Asking for “the usual, please” might actually be good for you.
Out of the scientific left field (okay, the department of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford) has come a study claiming that, barring hangovers or “did I really send that?” texts, regular face time at a bar isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good for your health.
The study, commissioned by the pub advocacy group Campaign for Real Ale, evaluated the drinking behaviors of 2,254 respondents throughout the U.K. The researchers found that, compared with people who check out different bars, folks who frequent the same local dives “have more close friends on whom they can depend for support, are more satisfied with their lives, and feel more embedded in their local communities,” wrote study author professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University.
Personal networks—like the kind that form among bar regulars—are “the single most important factor determining health, wellbeing, and survival,” he continues.
That sounds about right to Jeremy Hawn, a bartender in New York City. “Regulars use bars like their kitchen—they stop by for dinner after work, or on their way home,” he says. The ideal local is a place to unwind; you want a good rapport with the staff and the other patrons, and you want convenience, especially after a long day at the office. Which is why, Hawn adds, it’s pretty foolish to attempt to establish regular status at a bar too far outside your commute. “It’s all about the neighborhood bar.”
This study is by no means a battle cry for heavy boozing (which, of course, is a bad idea). The researchers discovered that people who frequent the same local bar tend to more successfully moderate their drinking (as in, drink only an average of 1.94 drinks per visit as opposed to the bar-hoppers’ 3.14), and are just happier people overall. We’d drink (a little) to that.