I've always wanted to be a "regular" at a bar. I'd walk in to nods from the staff and other regulars, order "the usual", get hassled by a gruff but lovable bartender about my ever-increasing tab, all that stuff. In making plans, friends and I wouldn't need any clarification about where we’d meet, just "The Bar." If someone I didn't know was looking for me, people would say things like “Check The Bar. He practically lives in that place!”, like in the movies. I’d have a regular bar stool that out-of-towners would sometimes accidentally sit on, only to get drunkenly berated when I found my seat occupied. It’d be the whole Cheers-home away from home-situation and it would be glorious.
The problem, of course, is finding a place worthy of such a commitment. For a place to become The Bar you need, among other things: a menu diverse enough not to get bored but inexpensive enough not to break the bank, drinks that veer towards the cheap but a few dusty bottles of quality booze for special occasions, an in-for-the-long-run staff that you can develop that classic “lovable bar fly” rapport with, and a reputation that makes it accessible but not too accessible to the public. But, while important, all of that is actually secondary to a characteristic far more difficult to capture. The Bar needs to have the right vibe, that homey feeling that personally suits a person so well that it makes sense for them to spend large amount of time there. And that’s obviously different for everyone. For some, that’s a dingy dive bar to commiserate with like-minded souls about an ill-fated sports team. For others, that’s a classy upscale place where you can loosen your tie and order martinis. For me, it’s something like this:
Look at this place!!! Comfortable, warm, a nice open layout. An eclectic-cluttered design with books everywhere. A place to sit and have in-depth discussions and fiery important arguments but also a place to have too many drinks and give long-winded toasts and celebrate things!!
Honestly, the only thing I can think of wrong with this bar is the fact that its 6,206 miles away from Baltimore.
Yes, forgive the pun, but Borges y Álvarez in El Calafate has raised The Bar. This is the leading contender, the standard by which all future potential The Bar candidates will be judged. I will continue my search, wandering into bars around the world, looking for an open seat to call my own. But if in that long global exploration I find nothing as good as this? Well, then you'll know where to find me. I'll be arguing about my tab in Spanish with the bartender at Borges y Álvarez.