Food & Drink

9 Signs a Bar Is Good for Drinking Alone

Mark Yocca / Supercall

Drinking alone is a completely acceptable activity. And if you do it at the right place in the right way, it can be an incredibly relaxing and fun grown-up use of your time. We’ve already covered the etiquette of drinking alone, so now it’s time to talk about location. While you can drink alone wherever you darn well please, some bars are better suited for it than others. Here are nine signs to look out for the next time you’re looking to pull up a solo bar stool.

There are open bar stools.

If you can’t immediately slide onto a bar stool, then the bar you’re looking at is much too crowded. Drinking alone is nothing to be ashamed of, but you still don’t want to draw attention to yourself by standing around awkwardly waiting for a spot to sit.

You could read if you wanted to.

Even if you aren’t planning on reading, the brightness of a bar gives you good insight into the type of bar it is. And the best solo bars are lit well enough so that you are able to read. If it’s too dark, you’re at a date bar. If it’s weirdly glowy, you’re at a party bar. If it’s lit with pink neon lights, you are just plain risking your vision.

You can’t hear the music from outside.

This is a good indication that the volume inside the bar is reasonable and you won’t have to endure other bar-goers yelling conversations the next stool over. Also, even if the bar is fairly empty, if it’s very loud it won’t be empty for long. Loud bars attract a certain crowd of shot-takers who will interrupt your alone time.

It looks genuinely well worn and at least a few years old.

Drinking alone is best done at cozy, comfortable neighborhood bars. Avoid anything heavily chromed or suspiciously clean.

There are other solo drinkers.

If a bar is already serving lone patrons, it’s a pretty good sign that they’ll be able to competently meet your bar-stool-for-one needs.

There’s a real jukebox with zero top 40 tunes on it.

We’re not talking about those newfangled Pandora jukeboxes with screens that connect to the internet. We’re talking about real jukeboxes with records—or, at least, CDs. Look for artists like Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Carly Simon. Essentially, if your dad would listen to the music on this jukebox, you’re safe.

Every geo-tagged Instagram post is of an actual drink or at least something drink-adjacent.

If you do a brief Instagram search of the spot and all you see are mini-dresses and selfies, keep walking. If you see pictures of cocktails or pints of beer or glasses of wine or whiskey bottles or anything that actually tells you that people enjoy drinking at this establishment, that’s a good sign.

There are windows.

If you can’t see into the bar from outside, don’t risk it. At best all you’ll get is a terribly lit cave of a bar.

It’s in an airport.

Airport bars are hands down the best bars for drinking alone. They’re practically designed for solo drinkers. Really, it’s hard to go wrong with a me-time Bloody Mary at an airport bar.