The first year of marriage was so easy. One of us have a tough day at work? Wed hit happy hour for a few beers. Saturday night and we needed a place to meet another couple? Hey, didnt a new cocktail bar just open in the East Village. Sunday with nothing do? Make it a funday and just belly-up at the local brewpub for flight after flight after ceaseless flight.
And then my wife got pregnant.
Only then did II mean werealize just how crucial not only drinking, but the bar life was to our married life. (I should also probably mention I frequently write about drinking for aliving.)
We spent this Christmas vacation in Munich, Berlin, and Prague. Did we hit museums, art galleries, historical sites? Get real! Those are some of the worlds greatest drinking citieswe bar hopped! Unfortunately, my wife was already three months pregnant at that point. It was a total disaster of smoke-filled bars, pushy Europeans, and inconsiderate service.
We immediately realized wed have to figure a few things out to make this work. Now almost seven months in, weve both become experts on what its like to bar hop when one of the drinking buddies is pregnant.
Non-alcoholic liquid is disgusting
Of course we all know getting drunk is awesome and the best reason for drinking adult beverages, but only when youre pregnant will you learn that fermented and distilled liquids also taste a helluva lot better than their 0% ABV counterparts. Every red-blooded American realizes that NA beer like ODouls and Buckler suck, but its long been rumored the alkoholfrei beer of Europe is actually pretty good. Its notjust a bunch of fizzy barley-water best befitting an actor pretending to get lit onstage. The worlds mocktails arent much tastier either. At best you find a highly-skilled and compassionate bartender who loves nothing more than whipping up a 1500-calorie pregnant lady smoothie thatll run you $12. At worst youll get a little soda water gunned with a splash of Ocean Spray.
Bar food isnt any better
Living in New York, were fortunate to have access to so many great cuisines. French and Italian, Thai and Vietnamese, Cuban and Mexican and Greek and even Israeli. Still, our favorite cuisine has always been bar food. Unfortunately, whether a low-brow sports tavern or high-end gastropub, the food served in bars nowadays may be unquestionably delicious, but also unquestionably not fit for one with baby. Those $1 happy hour oysters? Bacteria on the half-shell. That delectable charcuterie platter? A cesspool of toxoplasmosis. The turkey wrap? Listeria. Buffalo wings? Maybe, but dont you dare dip them in that poisonous ramekin of bleu cheese. That juicy cheeseburger everyone else is ordering??? Well, unless its well-done youre looking at some free condiments named E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Camplobacter, and holy fuck. And at this point youre thinking, Hmmmm, I wonder how the vegetarian nachos pair with my mocktail?
Bar seats suck
My wife and I have also always been the kind of people who didnt even have to think where we wanted to sit in any establishment. Whether trashy dive or swanky saloon, brewpub or restaurant, we have long known that the absolutely best place to sit is right at the bar. Right by the taps and bottles of booze, a neck lift away from the high-def TVs, face-to-face with the men and women who can so quickly fetch us another fresh drink or basket of nachos. Unfortunately, the pregnant body is not designed to sit on barstools, those rickety, clunky, oft-immovable adult high-chairs. Whether swiveling or set, wooden or metal, backless or hard-backed, the barstool is actually a straight throne of pain and bad posture promotion. Even worse, its actually damn hard to belly up to the bar when you have another person growing inside said belly. Now were stuck at some crummy booth back near the bathroom.
Bars are actually boring
For the drinker, theres no more exciting place to plop your ass than at the bar. Its a place for romance, intrigue, for gathering with friends and colleagues, having an impromptu meeting, rooting on your teams, grabbing a quick bite, wiling away the day, and dreaming about the future. And, if youre pregnant and not drinking, its none of those thingsits instead the most boring place in the entire damn world. The other customers are too loud and obnoxious, the menu offers nothing you can put in your face, the music is annoying, the interior too dark, and the bathroom too filthy and far away. And if your buzzed husband oohs and ahhhs over that IPA you cant drink one more time, you may just have to murder him!
Bar hopping is impossible
Ultimately, though, this pregnant ladies guide to bar hopping is designed to inform you that its flat out impossible to do so. Youre previous drinking life is officially on hold now. Hitting one bar so your husband can quickly pound a pint like a frat boy? Maybe. But crawling an entire neighborhood and popping into a dozen different establishment in an afternoon like you used to? Not a chance. Too much walking, too much angling for seats, too many bad barstools and worthless menus, and its flat out too tiring as well. Best to just stay home, get drunk (if youre the man), take a few non-judgemental sips (if youre the woman), and binge-watch something on Netflix. Dont worry, though, theres surely a few good bars directly across from the hospital. We can hit them up in, oh, 55 days or so.
I hope they allow strollers.