Becoming "one of the regulars" is an organic process. Sure, you could intentionally go to the same bar once a week or more, but it means nothing unless you really want to. When it comes to a lush's true regular watering holes, there's always something that keeps them coming back. More than that, they keep coming back against all reason. Me? I live in a city that's positively bristling with bars of every stripe. A lush could sit on a different stool every night and never run out. And yet I find myself going back to the same places time and again, finding comfort in some little thing that makes me blind to all the other bars around me. Maybe it's the bartenders who have engaging attitudes, maybe it's that I know they've got an uncommon bottle on the shelf I like. Maybe it's just because I have good memories there. Whatever the reason, I find myself back in those same bars time and again. That said, my thirst for variety is often as strong as my thirst for liquor. The balance, then, is having a small deck of regular spots, each one filling a certain role when one or the other doesn't suit my mood.
The Cocktail Lounge
For those who don't frequent this blog or have just forgotten, I make the distinction between drunk and lush based mostly around the concept of attention. This means attention to one's own habits, attention to the habits of others and attention to the nuances of different kinds of drink. The cocktail lounge is the best place to practice all these things. It's harder to get downright soused when the drinks are pricey and have complex flavors, but it's also easier to appreciate the uniqueness of alcohol as an experience. I have my regular lounge, as I'm sure most lushes do; a place for pure enjoyment of the craft, like a museum of potent drinks.
As much as I love cocktails, I recognize that sometimes a lush just needs a shot and a beer. The S'n'B bar isn't exactly the opposite of the cocktail lounge, but it does serve a completely different purpose. It's there for simplicity and for stress relief. It's there for alcohol as folk medicine. The S'n'B takes a man from sober to sauced at the right pace and without any pretension of class or craft. It is drinking with purpose. A good S'n'B bar is quiet, reasonably clean and relaxed. It allows a lush to sit in peace without the fussiness of lounges and party bars.
The Date Bar
Become a regular anywhere and you'll be slow to share the territory with new people. It's like inviting someone into your home, or at least into a dear friend's home. At the same time, no lush is happy to get romantically involved with someone who doesn't drink. It still happens from time to time, it just usually ends with one or both parties unhappy with the results. That's why the date bar exists. It's got the atmosphere and respectability necessary to make a good first impression but it's not special enough to drag the lush back on his or her own.
Spend enough time drinking and you'll eventually acquire friends and friends of friends who don't hold their liquor gracefully. That doesn't disqualify them from associating with a lush. In fact, a lush is the best friend a sloppy drunk could want. Who better to take care of a person who doesn't understand alcohol than someone who understands it intrinsically? Still, this means a prepared lush needs to have a bar he or she wouldn't mind never being welcome in again. For those times when tying one on with a sloppy seems right or even necessary, the smart lush goes to a good burner, a bar that isn't awful but also isn't worth missing. Life is messy, alcohol makes it messier and sometimes it's best to be prepared to say goodbye.