In praise of the working drink
I've often wondered if anybody actually does work in bars. The answer, it seems, is yes. From Midnight Sun guest poster Matthew Smith:
In the late 19th century, John D. Rockefeller carved out a monopoly for Standard Oil in part by ruthlessly underselling smaller, less durable companies.
Over the last couple decades, a certain mermaid-emblazoned coffee company has accomplished a similar (though more legal) end through various means. Among which I would number underselling not coffee, but time.
One of the pleasures of visiting a café is staying a while. Unfortunately for local places, a table occupied is a dollar lost, especially when there’s somewhere else to go.
Just check out the sign at Carma's Café in Charles Village (3120 Saint Paul Street). Thus can a corporation named after a Melville character gain an edge on locals simply by not hassling the lingerers ...
And, damn it, that’s crucial. Particularly if you’re a writer, like this writer. When you’ve got a deadline (or a whim) it’s nice to be able to go somewhere free from the duties and distractions of home.The natural choice is a coffee house, what with the constantly snapping beatniks and so forth. But lately it’s gotten hard to buy a cup and hunker down anywhere but that green-and-white place. Which, yeah, I do. But if you’re a determined locabeve, then try taking your work to a bar.
Sure, there are a lot of obvious reasons why that’s a bad idea. Among them alcohol. Plus, it’s noisy in bars, and people think you’re a melvin when you bust out the laptop between pints. (Disclosure: I have in fact been called a melvin. By a former student.)
So, the working drink is not a method for every project, or for every night (read: during Terp games). And it’s not much use to bring your tablet and stylus along if you’re just gonna get slammed.
But I’ve shared some pleasant and productive nights with a few beers and a writing buddy to help me stay on track. Granted, I’m half deaf, so the noise doesn’t faze me. And I’m Irish, so beer is like mother’s milk, if mother’s milk were something I drank all the time and didn’t feel weird about.
That said, I honestly enjoy writing in bars, and it’s not a bad way to practice moderation on a couple of fronts. Because your bar friends won’t make you do shots if you’re busy typing something serious, and you won’t take your prose so seriously if someone in the next booth is singing passionately along to “Don’t Stop Believing”.
But remember, not all bars will suit the working drink. Booths are good. So are slash-grilles.
My pick, for service, atmosphere, and tolerance, is the Charles Village Pub (3107 Saint Paul Street). It’s where I’m writing this.
(Photo by Sam Sessa)