I’ve been trying to make some changes recently.
Getting up early, eating less meat, doing more exercise… you know, “good habits”. I guess the pressure of turning the big three-oh next year has got me thinking: Are there a few things that I need to do first?
Of course the answer is yes. That’s why I’m sitting, drinking alone in a city that I have never and probably will never live in contemplating how I will tell my boss that I’d like to quit my job in Mexico, move back to the UK and start travelling the world to visit different bars.
I’ve been a brand ambassador for four years now, the first three for a blended Scotch whisky in Mexico and Texas, and the last year back to Mexico to represent an artesenal mezcal. My job involves working between marketing and sales on a national level blah blah blah… Basically I get to meet a lot of really interesting people with loads of stories that not enough people get to listen to. The most interesting people that I’ve come across recently are definitely the bartenders. Why? Hopefully, with time, this blog will be able to help you understand that. Let’s get back to the current situation.
One of my new “good habits” is trying not to be late… Therefore I’m about two hours early. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m meeting my friend when they get off work in Southampton. Not knowing much about this city, I just Googled “hotel bars” – hotel bars are kind of my safe option when I don’t know where to go to drink. They’re always open on Sundays, they always have a variety of people and I like to hope that they usually know a thing or two about a good cocktail compared to your average English pub.
“Is there a seat at the bar? Thank you.” I asked, walking into a large restaurant and bar space overlooking the harbour. I’m instantly greeted by a friendly face and an accent… Italian I guess. I look at the menu but ask if I could order a Negroni. “For you, of course.” comes the answer from his younger colleague. They have a little conversation, confirming in my head that they are both Italian. I’ve never been served a bad drink by an Italian as of yet, and the way he dances his barspoon around the beautiful Old Fashioned to cool it, hints that again I won’t be disappointed. I choose The Botanist Gin as my friend has just started working with them and I had yet to try it – there isn’t such a large selection of spirits in Mexico as in England so I try to take advantage. My Negroni arrives and I whip out my phone to take a picture. Younger bartender looks disappointed, I know, it’s annoying when people take Instagram shots of every plate/drink/coffee/outfit before enjoying themselves, but still tells me that I might get a better shot from the balcony. He wasn’t wrong!
I come back and we start talking over my delicious Negroni and a couple of mezcales. I find out that his name is Oscar, he’s 22 (I’m surprised, he’s very mature, I mean, comparing to myself at 22), he’s been in Southampton for about a month with his colleague, he misses Italy and Italian food (mamma mia!) and finds English people undirect. And then this conversation happens.
Oscar: “You’re not a normal English person.”
Me: “Well… I’m only half English. And I live in Mexico.”
Oscar: “That must explain it.”
Oscar: “Normal English people don’t sit at the bar alone.”
And you know what? He’s right.
So that’s it. I’ve decided I’m going to start this “shedrinksalone” blog, documenting experiences I have in bars, with drinks, on my own or with others. For some reason there’s a huge stigma about drinking alone – that’s it’s for depressed or alcoholic people.. But it’s really not. Don’t be scared to walk into a bar alone and sit in front of a bartender, take a few minutes to relax, let the drinks flow and the conversation even more so.
Alla tua salute!
-HarBAR on 6th, Southampton, UK