The first year of marriage was so easy. One of us have a tough day at work? We’d hit happy hour for a few beers. Saturday night and we needed a place to meet another couple? Hey, didn’t 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 I—I mean we—realize 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 a living.)
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 world’s greatest drinking cities—we 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 we’d have to figure a few things out to make this work. Now almost seven months in, we’ve both become experts on what it’s 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 you’re 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 O’Doul’s and Buckler suck, but it’s long been rumored the “alkoholfrei” beer of Europe is actually pretty good. It’s not—just a bunch of fizzy barley-water best befitting an actor pretending to get lit onstage. The world’s “mocktails” aren’t 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 that’ll run you $12. At worst you’ll get a little soda water gunned with a splash of Ocean Spray.
Bar food isn’t any better
Living in New York, we’re 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 don’t you dare dip them in that poisonous ramekin of bleu cheese. That juicy cheeseburger everyone else is ordering??? Well, unless it’s well-done you’re looking at some free condiments named E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Camplobacter, and holy fuck. And at this point you’re 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 didn’t 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, it’s actually damn hard to belly up to the bar when you have another person growing inside said belly. Now we’re stuck at some crummy booth back near the bathroom.
Bars are actually boring
For the drinker, there’s no more exciting place to plop your ass than at the bar. It’s 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 you’re pregnant and not drinking, it’s none of those things—it’s 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 can’t 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 it’s flat out impossible to do so. You’re 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 it’s flat out too tiring as well. Best to just stay home, get drunk (if you’re the man), take a few non-judgemental sips (if you’re the woman), and binge-watch something on Netflix. Don’t worry, though, there’s 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.