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There are two great relationships in a man’s life; the connection he shares with his chosen sports franchise, and the kinship he feels with his favorite bar. Like cheering for a specific team, a go-to bar cannot simply be grabbed onto without any sort of intimacy or chemistry, but instead requires a great measure of compatibility. It is not so much a choice as it is a melding of the spirits of man and structure, a union rooted in ethereal sameness. It can take years to discover one’s saloon of destiny, but once the bond is formed, it is impossible to dissolve.
My favorite bar found me. I had just turned 21 and I was enjoying my first week of drinking in the notoriously strict-on-IDs area of my college town. I stumbled down the strip, flashing my driver’s license at any bouncer who dared block my path into their bar, enjoying the freedom with which I hopped between the purveyors of spirits that dotted the area. As I left one particularly grungy establishment, I spied a sign for three dollar Jack sitting in front of a bar a little further down the sidewalk. Jack Daniel’s was my favorite whiskey, so I strode up to the bar’s guardian and handed him my newly-minted government-endorsed alcohol badge.
I entered to find the establishment lightly country themed, with a long L-shaped bar in front of two pool tables and a few pinball machines. Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” played in the background as I saddled up to the bar and ordered a drink, praying the bartender didn’t see through my facade of sobriety and decide not to serve me. As I sat there, I was overcome with a feeling of warmth I’m pretty sure wasn’t just a result of acid reflux caused by the alcohol churning in my gut. I knew that bar was where I belonged. I was home.
I have returned to that bar many times since that day, each time further solidifying my connection to it. I can’t quite pinpoint why, but something about that place speaks to me. It’s where I start my evenings, and it’s where I end them too. The bartenders know me on a first name basis, and I have a specific cue I look for before I suck it up on the billiards tables. It’s my favorite bar, and I’m happy to wear its colors.
A guy’s bar of choice is his rock in trying times, his guiding light on stormy seas. It’s where he feels at peace no matter what amount of fucked up shit his life is currently throwing at him. It’s where memories are made that will transcend the brief years of university attendance and serve as monuments to the finer moments of his college career. Those are the things that make the marriage between bar and man great. Those are the reasons favorite bars endure forever.
A beloved bar is more than a treasured place to melt brain cells; it can be a hallmark of a drinking legacy. Everyone should have a fall back; a place to drown sorrows when the grades come in at a D- average. That’s what a favorite bar is; a beacon of hope in a night that has hit the skids. So the next time you walk into a bar and feel the pride that can only come with familiarity, understand that shit is special, because there is nothing more valuable than a prized watering hole..