Dwinky time


David Whitley stands up for the start early, finish early school of alcoholism




A consistent line found in guide books is that nightlife in a particular city or country “doesn’t get going until” a particular time – often about 10pm. 


The implication there is that it’s largely pointless heading out for drinks before then – everywhere will be pretty dead. Head out later in the evening, the theory goes, and you’ll have a much better time. Well, that kinda depends on where you are and what you want from a good session at a bar or two. 


If the intention is to dance and possibly stumble across some romance then, sure, later is probably going to be better. I, however, have always been a bit of an old man when it comes to this sort of thing. My primary considerations when picking a bar have always been A) finding a seat and B) being able to hold a conversation above the music. 


There are few things worse than arriving at an already heaving bar, where you have to shout down people’s ears to be heard, when you’re completely sober. Starting early is massively underrated. OK, you may be home before midnight, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (particularly if you want to do things the next day). The key advantage to starting early, however, is that it’s brilliant for talking to people. It’s strange but true that the fewer people there are in a bar, the more likely you’ll end up talking to one of them.  


And people who start drinking early have a tendency to be, ahem, interesting if nothing else. The other key thing to bear in mind is office workers. When I worked in an office, almost all of the best nights were the ones that started immediately after work. We piled out of the office at five or five-thirty, and often the idea of an after work drink and a cheap pub feed would win out over going home and cooking. 


I think it would be fair to say that this happens in many offices in many cities across the world. That five or six o’clock window is a brilliant time to have a drink or two, eavesdropping on office politics conversations and often ending up as part of them. This approach means you look for a different type of bar, however. You’re not necessarily looking for the one with the best beer or wine selection or the best ambience. 


You’re not really looking for the one that goes off later on or the one with entertainment provided. You’re looking for one near the offices that has a happy hour. Choosing where to go amongst workmates is all about compromise.  The group will rarely end up at a bar that’s the favourite of any one group member. Usually convenience and cost will win out – and the slightly divey joint around the corner that does cheap beers between 5pm and 7pm will usually do the job just fine. 


Discover where those bars are, and there’s a high chance that you’ll end up hearing all the good stories. And the bonus is that it won’t cost you nearly as much as hanging out with the posers in the hip, upmarket joint at 11pm.