Apparently, I care about money more than the average Madisonian. That is clearly not demonstrated in my career choices, but it is in my drinking habits. The first thing I always say when I enter a bar is, "Do you have any specials," a question a coworker of mine (and longtime bartender) finds odd. Nevertheless, he has since adopted the habit. But we could both do better. We are consumers, and we have the right to know what the cheapest possible way to get hammered is.
How often do you get your bill at the bar and feel strangely cheated? Your buddy was charged $2 for a Miller, and you ordered a Bud, assuming it's of comparable price, and are shocked when they charge you $4. If only you had known Miller was on special.
The difference between Bud and Miller isn't worth $2. If you're ordering either, chances are you just want to keep the bulge in your wallet and out of your belly. (That's right. I just want a light beer, and taste doesn't matter. And before Miller calls me "unmanly," I say honesty is the "manliest" quality possible.)
And yet, is it in poor taste to ask the bartender what the cheapest possible beer is? Why do I feel like a jerk when I ask waiters how much more it would cost to upgrade from rail Tequila to José Cuervo?
I wish things were like in the movies, when a guy goes into a bar and just asks for a Cold One. The bartender doesn't ask for brand specifications, he just slides something cold and alcoholic across the bar. That's also the way it works in France --if you order "une biere" the waiter brings you the cheapest thing in the house. In fact, they'll even do the same for wine. Wine snobbery, although widespread in France, is something you choose, not something that is forced upon you.
Going to a bar, especially a low-end one, should be like going to the gas station. If you want fancy schmancy service (premium gas, a car wash, brandy old fashioned), by all means, ask for it. But many of us just want a tank/pint of "regular."
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