How To Tell A Bar Sucks Without Even Entering It


So many bars, so little time to waste at one that sucks. The upside to accidentally finding yourself in a terrible bar, though, is that you’ll know what to avoid next time. Eventually you can discern whether a bar is awful before you’ve ever stepped foot inside. As a veteran bar-goer, here are few quick tips I’ve learned.

The Name

What’s in a name? Not much, you’d think. Sure, if it starts with an “O’,” it’s probably an Irish bar, and everybody likes those. And if it has a bawdy pun for a name (like “The Cockpit” or “The Manhole”), it’s probably a gay bar. But if the sign just has a single, random, vague word — “Plum,” “Blue,” “Butter,” etc. — I’ve found it’s usually pretentious, expensive…and almost always sucks.

Blacked-Out Windows

Bars are supposed to be dark, but when one has actually painted its windows, making it impossible for you to tell what’s actually going on inside? That’s yet another way you can tell that a bar is horrible. You wouldn’t dare enter a stranger’s van with windows like that, so why enter this club?

A Cover

Sorry, but places that charge covers — unless live music is being played — invariably suck. Bars have licenses to print money, what with all their overpriced food and drink options. If you need to assure that every person who enters is deprived of a few measly bucks at the door, that’s probably because nobody wants to stick around for a second drink.

Bouncers Who Look Like The Expendables

Of course a bar should employ someone to keep the underaged out and deal with problematic drunks, but some bars nowadays think it’s necessary to have a SWAT team guarding the front door. Why does that Herculean bouncer have his cargo pants tucked into combat boots? And why does this sports bar need White House-level security?!


There’s nothing wrong with a bar trying to lure you in by advertising their specials on a¬†sandwich board; it’s only a concern when those specials aren’t special (“Buckets of High Life — $45!”). Just ask yourself what most things cost inside if that’s their idea of a deal.

There’s A Line

Human beings can’t help but want to follow the crowd. If there’s a bunch of people waiting, then what they’re waiting for must be outstanding, right? Wrong. There are too many decent bars in this world to stand in a long line for one in particular. Especially because everyone in line is almost certainly going to be a fellow dude.

Photo via quickmeme

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Aaron Goldfarb (@aarongoldfarb) is the author of ‘How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide’.