The 19 best people at every bar

worst people at a bar
All photos by Anthony Humphreys
All photos by Anthony Humphreys

We tend to spend a lot of time dwelling on the crappy people we run into at bars... mainly because there are tons of them. But they're not the reason we spend our nights and our paychecks in dark, loud places: they're also populated with amazing characters you want to be around. Folks who buy you drinks. Folks with amazing stories. Folks who know kung fu! Here are 19 of the best, with special thanks to New York bar Sláinte for giving them a place to call home. If you're not drinking with at least one, you need to find a new haunt.


The Guy Who Knows Aikido
The minute a bar fight starts to break out, he diffuses the situation by using the aggressor's kinetic energy to subdue him. He then buys both parties a drink to calm them down, and by the end of the night they're all friends. He owns On Deadly Ground on Blu-ray and gives incredible back rubs.

The Liquor/Beer Rep
This dude's entire career is based on going from bar to bar and making sure people are drinking his brand. Which means he's about to ring up a $500 tab, even if there are only three people in the bar. He's staying with you until the bar closes and loading you up with T-shirts... but he only has XLs and baby Ts.

The Off-Duty Stripper
She's still super hot, but now her name is Kim, not Cinnamon. And she can't turn off the whole flirting thing, which means you still think she likes you even though she doesn't. But your chances of going home with her just went up exponentially, provided she doesn't have to study for a med school exam all day tomorrow.

Birthday boy

The Guy Alone On His Birthday
None of his friends are in town, but dammit he's going to throw down on his birthday. He might look sad at first, but he's a ticking time bomb of awesome. Before you know it... shots for everyone!  Also, you are his new best friend. You guys should go into the photo booth, and then do a birthday cake shot.

The Bartender You Know
You guys go way back, and that's evident in the fact that your whiskey Coke is about 1% Coke. He knows exactly when to cut you off -- which is about four drinks after most people cut you off -- and has a habit of miscalculating your tab to your benefit.

The Secret-Drink Buyer
You go to get your tab, and it's already been paid for. But by whom? Some person who already left, presumably to either go to another bar to secretly treat somebody, or to watch Pay It Forward again and wonder when somebody will return the karmic favor.


The Guy Who Knows the Heimlich
He's been waiting to use his CPR knowledge forever, and, the minute he hears somebody choking, he springs into action. He is here to save your life from a rogue peanut. He gets a lot of Christmas cards.

The Guy Whose Order Was Wrong
He didn't want the spicy wings, but he doesn't want to put the bartender out, so he hands them off to you while he waits for the mild ones. He doesn't want you to buy him a drink to say thanks, but when you insist he gets a cheap tallboy. Because he doesn't want you to be put out either.

The Jukebox Hero
Sure, he played six Skynyrd songs in a row. But he also put a $20 in the machine so other people could run the show for a while. That makes three "Free Bird" live cuts in a row forgivable.

The Guy With Every Taxi Service In His Phone
The minute you say you need to call a cab, he materializes through the haze with a list of cab companies on his phone, which he's volunteered to let you use. He has the cabs ranked in order of cleanliness and speed.

Tinder chick

The Chick Prowling Tinder
Eventually she's going to get to you, and then it's on! She might be crazy, but she's also got beer goggles and is dead set on not going home alone tonight. THIS IS FINALLY YOUR TIME!

The Shot-Ski Group in Need of Another Person
Three people do not a shot-ski team make. They need a fourth, and they're buying. Things will be going figuratively downhill from here.

The Woman Celebrating Her Promotion
She just got a pay raise, and damned if she isn't going to spend it all buying rounds for the bar while she makes the rounds hugging every single person and telling them how far she's come.

Order is wrong

The Girl Who Doesn't Like Her Drink
She understands that it's her bad that she wanted something light, but ordered a Manhattan. Do you like Manhattans? Because she'd hate for this to go to waste.

The Non-Smoker Who Just Bought a Pack
He only smokes when he drinks, and doesn't like to smoke by himself. You are now his smoking buddy, and he's giving you the pack when he's done.

The Owner Who Bought the Place Because He Likes to Party
Drinks on him (for three months until he's broke and the place closes, but still)!

Beer goggles

The Chick with Beer Goggles
When you have beer goggles, you wake up next to somebody who looks like Carol Channing. When this chick has beer goggles, she wakes up next to you. (We are assuming this isn't Carol Channing.)

The Old British Guy With a Ton of Stories to Tell
He has been in every major world conflict since "The Great War", once seduced a French woman in the bathroom of the Louvre, played Hamlet in Central Park, won an eating contest, got in a fist fight with Robert Redford, called Strom Thurmond a p*ssy -- TO HIS BLOODY FACE -- and will tell you how to make Beef Wellington by memory. He has probably consumed at least a liter of Scotch tonight, and has no plans of stopping. He is now your spirit animal.

Man, we could hang with that dude all night.

Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's national food and drink team. He doesn't know aikido, but he does own Hard to Kill and Out for Justice on VHS. Follow him to broken bones via @apkryza.