I may sound like a rarity, but I actually waited until I turned 21 until having my first alcoholic drink. There has always been so much excitement and angst for that moment of ultimate freedom to enter places you have never had access to and the ability to be like Carrie Bradshaw and order that Cosmo you have been dying to try. Let’s face it, girl knew what she wanted and how she wanted it and I wanted nothing more than to be that woman knowing her drinks with confidence.
Not only was turning 21 a monumental moment I couldn’t wait for, but there came the time when I could finally enter a bar freely, embracing my adult self. Now while I felt anticipation for ordering my first drink and being amongst older adults, I soon learned that going to a bar is an experience in itself. Being the awkward person that I can be, I have realized that there are a lot of things needed to note when going to a bar and being in one.
- You will freak out when approaching the doorman.
Despite being legal, there’s always anxiety when going to the doorman and showing your ID. Unfortunately my license picture isn’t exactly the most flattering (Hello awkward 15 year-old permit picture), so showing it to the doorman was not only terrifying, but brought a jumble of thoughts in my mind.
Will he think this is a fake ID? Will he see that I’ve never done this before? Will he judge that haircut I thought was cool to have for my license picture, but is the worst decision I’ve made? Is the award for the first rejection to enter this place going to be rewarded to me? Can I even try to act natural and calm?
2. Know the dress code!
If you think that wearing jeans and a t-shirt when going to a bar downtown is appropriate, think again! As much as it can be embarrassing to admit, I was that awkward girl wearing my Target summer dress and sandals thinking everyone would be casual, but I had a rude awakening. Girls were either dressed in the skimpiest outfits they could find or trapped in tight fabric seeming to suffocate their bodies. I think it’s great to embrace feeling sexy and powerful, but maybe my casual attire wasn’t as appropriate as I thought it would be.
Rule of advice: When all else fails, wear something nicer than originally planned. Research the bar you’re planning on going to, because every bar is different and you need to know the vibe of the place. There can be the downtown bars (AKA: Channel your inner Beyonce and work it) and the dive bars (AKA: Feel free to wear those Target shopping spree clothes). Know your bar vibe to know what you choose from your closet.
3. Choosing Drinks can be a headache. Is there a cheat sheet?
I didn’t realize how clueless I was, until I was asked what I wanted to drink. Going in you have an idea of what you would want, but don’t actually know what the terminology is for any of it. Here are the awkward questions I was asked when trying to comprehend and hide the confusion I had:
“Is it going to be an open tab or closed tab?” Wait what?!
“Beer or liquor?” Aren’t they both alcohol?
“What type of liquor do you want?” The alcohol kind?
“Do you want your Margarita to have salt or no salt?” Wait, like french fries?
“What do you want it mixed with?” Umm with a spoon?
Why is the bartender looking at me like that? Do they know I have no idea? They seem to be in a rush, so I should just pick the first thing I can think of. What did they order on Gossip Girl?
Don’t only research your bar, but try researching different drinks that could taste like something you would seem to like. If you aren’t a fan of the alcoholic taste, I would suggest going with a Malibu Rum mixed with Sprite. It can be sweeter than other drinks and seems like the “I’m on a tropical island, enjoying my drink” vibe.
You begin learning your drinks and how you like them, but this all comes with time. Nothing google, your friends, family and Pinterest can’t help with!
4. Bring your paycheck.
Going to bar with a group of friends is fun, but after a while you begin to realize just how expensive it can be. It can be simple to just order another drink when you finish it, but at the end of the night, seeing that bill cost can cause you to be an emotional wreck.
The only advice I could give is to be cautious when ordering drinks and how many! If you just got paid and are ready to enjoy yourself, have at it! I will say to ask yourself if a hangover is worth being paid that much for.
If you’re a broke college student surviving on Drive-thru and Top Ramen, be weary. It also doesn’t hurt if someone offers to buy you a drink. Just remember that going out isn’t always as glamorous as it seems, because nothing is necessarily free.
5. Did you enter a real-life tinder app?
One thing I noticed about being in a bar, is the fact that everyone is scoping. There’s the people dancing on the dance floor, waiting for a hottie to approach and join them. There’s the people sitting at the bar hoping someone asks to buy them a drink. There’s the people standing off to the corner observing who’s taken, single, ready to mingle, or not interested. There’s the people simply there to have a good time with their friends.
What I’ve learned is that there’s always a purpose for going to bar. Some people want to just have fun, whereas some are wanting to find someone to have fun with. There’s no right or wrong reason for going to a bar, but it’s fun to observe and see the interactions happening around you.
Going to bar for the first time is an experience that can vary with every person. I’m not saying everyone has awkward experiences or can be as clueless as I was when I went, but I think the most important thing to note is to ensure you go with the right people, because that’s what makes the experience that much more fun. Until then, I’m going to go study my notes to make sure I’m not this again…