A Love Letter to Drinking in Bars
<A Love Letter to Drinking in Bars>
For many of us, when we talk about bars we’re talking about our fathers. That’s just a fact. Beneath the polished worktop of our memories, beneath the well-oiled stories and the grain of the wood, you’ll find the face of a man you scarcely knew, and you can picture him there in the bars where he sought his freedom. My father was a solitary drinker, but our house was busy with children and resentment, so he would venture out and find places where they fill your glass and ask no questions. Sometimes he wouldn’t come home for months. I grew up thinking bars were black holes, smoky, mysterious places through which troubled men might pass to another dimension.
If you’re in a lovely bar and someone tries to go to bed, keep them awake with a wild conversational gambit, a kiss or a kir royale. Going out isn’t automatically more romantic than staying in, but sometimes, even once a year, you should go to a wonderful bar and stay there until they throw you out. Blow the rent money on two perfect martinis side by side, or fly to that little bar in Tangier, where it’s always quarter to 3 and the barman has a degree in Frank Sinatra. Ignore the health warnings, the sage advice, the calorie counters, the sleep addicts: Every great bar is a breath of paradise, and the best ones know, in their gleaming surfaces, what Proust meant when he said that the true paradises are the paradises we have lost.
From “A Love Letter to Drinking in Bars” by Andrew O’Hagan for the New York Times Magazine, 2016; Photo of a Passion Royale and Champagne Dream at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel (@thecarlylehotel) in New York by Brooke Holm (@brookeholm)
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