10 tips to survive [and thrive] in the post-grad bar scene.

…from both the male and female point of view.

It is safe to say that my girl friends and I have had our fair share of nights out at the bar both in college and long after graduation. To give you some background: we all went to school in Worcester, Massachusetts where we had our healthy pick of college bars downtown. I was legal drinking age for the last two years of my academic career, so I felt plenty prepared moving to Boston and going out in that city, which happens to be the city where I met my fiancé. Even better, I met him while we were both out at…you guessed it… a bar.

I think we can all agree that the experiences of going out to bars or clubs are very different for men vs. women. And when I started writing this blog post, my fiancé, Chris, had some interesting perspectives to bring into the topics I’m about to discuss. So we decided to do something fun: after every tip I share in this post, Chris has added his own tidbits of “advice” for the male gender in a little segment we like to call “Chris’s Cliff Notes.” Enjoy!

[Sidenote: I know the bar scene in every city can be different, so for the sake of this blog post, we’re going to share what we’ve personally learned living in ours]

1. Always have cash on you.

In Worcester, my girls and I had the luxury of bar hopping up and down the main street without ever having to pay a cover charge at the door. In fact, I honestly don’t think I even knew what a “cover” was before I moved to Boston. And for those of you who are still unfamiliar, it’s basically a set dollar amount you have to pay to get into the place you’re going for the night, usually $10 in cash at the door. In Boston, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bar that DOESN’T charge a cover on a Friday or Saturday night, so make sure you always have cash in your wallet before you go out!

And cash comes in handy for so many other things on your nights out too. For example, $1 bills are perfect for quickly tipping bartenders. Or maybe the place you’re going offers a coat check inside (which in my opinion are the only bars you should be going to if you participate in New England winters), and those are usually $2, $3, or $5 per coat and definitely cash only.

Chris’s Cliff Note: Always be THAT GUY who brings cash for street meat* when your drunk friends don’t have any. That guy is the real hero.

*“street meat”– the sausage cart across from the bar that stays open until 2 AM when all the hungry drunkies come stumbling out looking for food

2. Save some extra money on your night out by:

a. researching ladies nights: Most bars will have a “ladies night” at least once a weekend, where girls can get in for free. Sometimes it’s no cover before a certain time, or if you’re lucky, there’s no cover at all for the girls. This always helped us decide which bar we were going to go to that night since we could put that money towards an extra drink while we were there.

b. get there before the cover starts (which also helps you avoid waiting in line outside): If you don’t mind going to the bar early, there are a lot of benefits to doing so. You can usually beat the cover if the charge at the door doesn’t start until say 10:30, and that also means you’ll get in right away and don’t have to stand in line outside and waste precious drinking/dancing hours. For me and my friends, we never minded going early because it also meant we could stake our claim at the best spot by the bar or on the dance floor.

c. ask for ride share gift cards from family members for birthdays or Christmas: This one I discovered way too late into the game, but was a huge money saver once I finally did. I would just plug those gift cards right into a ride share app like Uber or Lyft, and would get a few solid trips out of them before I had to start paying my own way again.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: For the guys, just get drunk with your friends at home until 11:30 so you have to buy fewer drinks at the bar, it’s a lot cheaper. You can also use those Uber gift cards as Uber Eats for breakfast when you’re hungover the next morning.

3. Be careful what you post to your social media story while you are drunk.

This may seem like common sense, but trust me, you’re going to get drunk and have no control over your actions or what gets posted to social media for the whole world to see. And the worst part is, you won’t realize it until the next morning when you rewatch your Instagram or Snapchat story and discover that you flashed your tits at the camera–OH, and your roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s dad watched and called it out to her as a casual FYI. True story…but “at least they looked nice.”

*Chris’s Cliff Note: Don’t just “be careful” of what you post–also remember that absolutely no one wants to watch you screaming Mr. Brightside at the top of your lungs while drunk at 2 AM.

4. Don’t trust guys in the dark (or in hats) while you have beer goggles on.

We all know about the adverse effects of beer goggles. They are real and they are dangerous. When we’re drunk, those wires in our brain that tell us if we’re attracted to someone or not are completely tangled, so while under the influence of alcohol, we are not to be trusted in choosing our suitors for the night. First you’re making out with a guy because he has lips and you’re feeling slutty, and the next thing you know the lights come on, or the hat comes off, and you realize he’s freaking Sloth from the Goonies. Except it wasn’t him or the hat that was deceiving you, your brain was, and now you’re forced to give him a fake phone number and enter into the witness protection program for all of eternity.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: And for men: don’t trust girls who tell you it’s her birthday and wants shots for her and all her friends…it’s probably not her birthday.

5. Always put your phone in the same, safe place.

I cannot tell you how many times I have left my phone in the bathroom at a bar. Even worse when I went pee with it in my back pocket and it dropped into the toilet one time. It got so bad that Chris would take my phone away from me when I wasn’t paying attention and he would hold onto it himself for the night. Which was great in theory except he wouldn’t tell me he was doing it so I would spend 20 minutes in the bathroom searching for it. So please, keep your phone in your purse or give it to someone more responsible and slightly more sober, because taking a trip to the Verizon or AT&T store the next morning is the least fun place to be when you’re hungover.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: And always keep your phone charged in case you need an Uber home. Nothing’s worse than your phone dying right after calling the Uber, so you have to go around to all the drivers asking if they are looking for “Chris”.

“…which is also just very unsafe.” -Nicole

6. Let the alcohol kick in, don’t just keep drinking until you feel it.

Listen to me very carefully: shots at the bar will be the death of you. Or if you’re like me and hate shots, then maybe your kryptonite is a good Long Island Iced Tea. No matter what you’re drinking, the worst thing you can do is pile em’ back without any water or pause in between. Because one minute you’ve got the perfect light buzz going, and then the next you’re sitting on the toilet in the restroom and the stall starts spinning, and THAT’S when you finally realize you’re wasted.

And if you think you’re drunk then, just wait until you get into the back of a moving vehicle. Because as soon as you do, the nausea will completely take over, and then suddenly you’re throwing up in a puke bag from the back of the passenger’s seat (shout out to those MVP Uber drivers) while your friend is recording the entire thing on her phone. Just consider yourself lucky that you made it to your actual bed at the end of the night instead of passing out in a bush in front of your apartment. You’ll never live that one down, trust me.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: Switching to the aluminum bottle bud lights towards the end of the night is a pro move. Oh, and drink a glass of water before you fall asleep, your body will thank you.

7. If you’re new to a city and trying to make friends, visit the girl’s bathroom.

I’m not really sure what it is about the girl’s bathroom at bars, but I’ve met some of the nicest females in there. Granted we’re all usually pretty drunk, but it’s the place to be if you’re looking for a compliment on your outfit, need a confidence boost about your body, or really just want someone to tell you not to drunk text your ex-boyfriend who you did you dirty.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: Guys, if someone tries to talk to you at the urinal, just put your head down and keep walking. They’re nothing but trouble.

8. Make friends with the bartender.

Kind of obvious, but the easier/faster you get served, the more time you spend drinking with your friends than waiting for him/her to “call on you”. And trust me, order of arrival is NOT a thing at bars; there are too many people for anyone to keep track or give a shit about how long you’ve personally been waiting, or that “Big Tits Brittany” got served before you did.

And when it comes to male bartenders, ladies please remember that he gets paid to be nice to you. No matter how flirty he seems, he’s most likely not interested in dating you and just wants the tips. Even if he says he’s single and wants to take you out after his shift is over so you give him your number and wait for him to text you…he won’t end up texting you because he actually has a long-term girlfriend of 4 years waiting for him back home named Kiki Winters.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: For the guys, have fun just trying to make eye contact. Good luck, and remember to tip.

9. If you start a tab, don’t forget to close out at the end of the night!

Most of the time now, bars will let you have your credit card back after opening a tab, and they just ask for your last name when you order a drink. Other times, they keep your credit card until you close out completely, which means if you forget to do so, you have to go retrieve it when the place opens the next day. Lucky for you.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: There’s no shame if you do, it happens to the best of us. Just don’t be the asshole who loses his entire wallet instead of just his credit card.

Bonus Tip for my fellow cold weather warriors

10. Call ahead to see if there is a coat check and wear the damn coat!

I promise that it doesn’t “ruin your outfit” because you’re only going to wear it from the car to the door of the bar and then you check it before you do anything else. In the winter, my friends and I would always call ahead to see if the place we were going had a coat check and how much it was. And depending on how cold it was going to be that night, we would sometimes not even go there if the answer was no. Thank you, next…because hypothermia doesn’t go with anything in my closet either.

*Chris’s Cliff Note: Guys, if you need a coat, you didn’t pregame hard enough.


I hope these help! Even if most of them just seemed like unrealistic anecdotes from my life that would never happen to you, it’s always good to have an example of what not to do, right? Good luck, and…

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