It doesn't seem so sad when you bring a book
As someone who dines out alone often, I often have some sort of emergency reading material on hand in case things are boring. A small novel, or a magazine, or a book downloaded on my phone. But when I see people dining alone at tables with a book, it instinctively makes me feel sad. They might be totally fine with it, and just be enjoying themselves and I can piss off, but there is something that makes me want to go sit with them, and ask them questions about their childhood and if they’re going to finish their fries. But when you do the same thing at a bar, I feel no sadness. In some ways just having people in proximity to you, knowing that the energy surrounding you is there, and you COULD engage in a conversation if you wanted to, feels nice. It feels like your solitude is a choice, and not a sentence. Also, it’s easier to eat your fries.
Befriending the bartender makes your life forever great
I’ve saved the best perk of bar sitting for last. Making friends with a bartender is one of the most important life skills you can have, outside of learning CPR, and the Konami Code. You need to be friendly but not overtly eager and annoying (thus having the book on hand in case he's busy or actually kind of a dick). Show an interest in what he's doing. Ask questions about drinks he's making. Show yourself to be a good, self-deprecating, and learned person who wants to know things.
If you do this, and the bartender is a good person, he may just reward you with a free drink, or an appetizer, or a taste of a random Austrian gin that is somehow better neat than Scotch. He might tell you about an insider stock tip he heard from a guy named Todd who works in finance, or recall an amusing anecdote involving Jake Busey and Kel from Kenan and Kel. Either way, nurturing that brief fleeting friendship gives you the chance to make memories you’d never be able to create sitting at a stupid table. Plus, you can order that burger.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Kevin Alexander is Thrillist's national writer-at-large and is sitting at a bar right now. Please do not follow him @KAlexander03, as it only inflates his already massive ego.