Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hit Me Baby One More Time

Bars in New York are great places.

I'm used to regulated drinking hours in London. After many years of practice my body is perfectly tuned to the booze stopping at 11pm. New York's bars are typically open until 4am. On a school night. This has already led to a few errors of judgement regarding intake.

Beer costs about the same as London, and cocktails are about half price. You also have to factor in the dollar-per-drink tipping culture. It's coming a lot more naturally to me now, and they make it much easier for you by giving your $10 change as $5 and five $1 bills. Easy.

There is also the almost industry standard acceptance of the "tab". It's so much more civilised to pay for your evening's entertainment at the end of the night without having to leave a credit card as security. It leads to a much more social experience - that extra level of trust making you feel more welcome, perhaps.

We popped into the bar at a local restaurant last night on the way home from dinner. We had a glass of champagne and a few oysters, followed by a cocktail. Just as we were thinking about getting the bill the barman presented us with a round of drinks "on the house". We hadn't been there that long, and we certainly hadn't spent that much money.

Whilst not exactly commonplace, it seems to happen reasonably regularly. If you invest in a place, the tips seem to come back as free drinks. And it's precisely that kind of relationship with an establishment that makes you leave feeling that you had a great time, and already planning your next trip back.

I could get used to this.

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