I was trying to brainstorm for a good topic to write about (bubbl.us is pretty impressive for webbing / brainstorming though), and while my original intent was to find something a bit more introspective, similar to my posts earlier this month, tonight's writing is more opinion than introspection, though it is a topic that is very familiar to me: what makes a good bar?
In college, my favorite bar was Christy's. Post-college, there was a slight gap, where I didn't really have a favorite bar. When I lived in Montana, Miller's Crossing was the go to spot. Here in Reno, the Lincoln Lounge is my go to bar. As a quick recap:
- Christy's - this was one of the more popular college bars for UC students. Big selling points for Christy's were the large biergarten and bocce courts out back. Decent beer selection. In the cooler months, there was a downstairs bar, which was cozy, but did contain a pool table and darts. Of course, this happened to be the bar of choice for most of my social circle. Oh, and I lived about a quarter-mile walk from the bar.
- Miller's Crossing - live music, Blackfoot beers, 3 pool tables, and again, this was the go to bar for our motley crew. They also sponsored My Drinking Team Has a Soccer Problem, and their staff was uber-friendly. I still look forward to seeing Eric whenever I'm in Helena. The fact that the walk from the backdoor of my apartment building to the bar was around 200 feet probably didn't hurt either.
- Lincoln Lounge - This bar is about 0.8 miles from where I live. Just to point out that this isn't the nearest bar to me, there is a rather high density of bars near where I live. I stopped in here with Greg when it was first getting started, and it had a good, low-key vibe to it. It's got the best bartender in Reno, a great beer selection, and the damn mug club hooked me for sure. Their patio is awesome as well. Having gotten to know the owners probably doesn't hurt either.
I know for some, one of the big draws for Miller's would have been the live music (which I hear has been on hiatus due to staffing reasons). I heart that Miller's was the bar where I got introduced to Ten Mile Tide, Mojo and the Groove (who unfortunately, have not released anything since their debut title, the Empty Growler Blues), the Clumsy Lovers, and others. I also really enjoyed anytime I did dance there (as rare as that may have been). All that being said, the live music wasn't one of the main draws for me.
So, key factors for me?
- Distance - Obviously, all three of the above were really close to places I've lived. Being able to walk or bike to the bar is a huge plus.
- Low-key vibe - All three of the above are bars where you can go and have a conversation, without having to worry about yelling over the music. They're also all places I don't feel the need to dress-to-impress, but don't think I'd be judged if I were dressed up for some reason or another. Also, all of the above were places I could go by myself on a quiet night, mull over my thoughts, and not have to talk to anyone.
- Beer selection - I <3 good beer, and variety is the spice of life.
- People - I like to become a regular at a bar. This way, on the occasions when I am feeling social and can't find anyone to go drink with, I can still go to the bar, and probably find someone to babble with. It usually helps if the crowd is somewhat like minded. Christy's was mainly students, Miller's was full of independent, liberal, outdoorsy types, and Lincoln is pretty eclectic.
- Pool table - as stated previously, Miller's is where I'd go at the end of my day, shoot a few racks This factor has definitely been a bit dependent on my social circle. In college, I played a bit of pool, but was never any good at it. While in Montana, I definitely got comfortable with my game (to the point that I feel comfortable challenging anyone for a table). Here in Reno, I don't know anyone who actually shoots, though I still like going down to Imperial to shoot a rack every now and then. Lincoln doesn't have a pool table, but it does have shuffleboard and darts, though I rarely play either.
Hmmm, I think that's it.