The first week of the New Year can be a frustrating time if your lightweight friends just want to stay home and curl up in the fetal position. That shouldn’t mean you have to follow suit and deny yourself the nightlife you so desire. You just have to be okay with going out alone.
This can be somewhat daunting, particularly for women, though smart phones have indeed made it a lot easier to avoid eye contact with undesirables (what the heck did women do before smart phones anyways?). Even so, there’s something rather satisfying about going out for a drink by yourself. Get it wrong and you’ll be a pathetic Eric Carmen-soundtracked cliche. But done right it’s purely indulgent.
Tips for the solo tippler
If you’re intending to sit at the bar, avoid rooms built around big square bars, which can make you feel like you’re out on display. Opt instead for rooms with straight-line bars where you’ll be face-to-face with the bartender, but not fellow patrons.
Hotel lounges are a good bet if you’re seeking an “alone together” vibe – they’re like flypaper for all the solo hotel guests who don’t want to hole up in their rooms all night.
It’s important, too, that you don’t go out drinking alone unless you’re comfortable with the idea of drinking alone. If you’re sitting at the bar you can expect any worthy bartender to engage in a bit of chitchat, but don’t expect them to be your surrogate companion. They’re at work, after all, and there are limes that need choppin’ and other tasks to complete before the end of the shift.
Most importantly, keep your head in the game and don’t overdo it when you’re out on your own, since you can’t rely on your friends to watch your back. Going out for cocktails on your own is for adults only, not those whose last night on the town ended with a lusty spewing of Sourpuss on the sidewalk.
With that in mind, here are some of the city’s premier spots for drinking alone:
The Oak Room at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel
This hotel lounge is one of the only places in town where you’ll find legitimate old-school style, the kind of lounge where Don Draper and his anachronistic ilk wouldn’t seem out of sorts. With plush seating, soft lighting and black-bowtie-attired servers, the Oak Room is made for dreamy contemplation over a classic old fashioned or a retro redux cocktail like the Moscow Mule, which carries the kick of fresh ginger puree.
133 9th Ave. S.W.
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro
A gin martini is an ideal drink for those flying solo and they make a damned fine one at this Stephen Avenue spot (I prefer ’em with a twist, but the olive ones here are nice too). The narrow, brick-walled room is warm and inviting and the bar’s placement is offset by the bustle from the nearby open kitchen. The downtown location also makes it a great spot to kill time before the start of an Epcor Centre play or concert.
113 8th Ave. S.W.
This 17th Avenue restaurant is a perennial favourite for those who go out to eat. But they also mix a great Manhattan at the bar, which is tucked over to the right of the main dining room. There’s a bit of an industry-insider vibe here, which suits the mindset of the solo sipper to a T.
723 17th Ave. S.W.
A cozy wine bar is a great place to go drinking alone. The best wine bartenders don’t just have an irrepressible passion for grapes, they also have an irrepressible desire to communicate that passion. If you’re on your own and display even the tiniest sliver of oeniphilic inclination there’s a good chance they’ll let you taste the latest greatest acquisition.
1131 Kensington Rd. N.W.
Ironwood Stage & Grill
This Inglewood institution presents live music pretty much every night of the week, though the crowd here tends to be less raucous and more inclined toward sitting and listening. If you’re on your own you’ll be more welcome than those who disturb the peace by chatting away with their friends. The cabaret tables get snapped up pretty quick, though there’s usually a spot or two available at the bar. Order a pint of something dark and then swivel around and lose yourself in the music.
1229 9th Ave. S.E.