The search for a good local bar is not so different from the pursuit of a good healthy relationship. In both of these elusive quests you hope you'll find something that makes you feel welcome and comfortable, where you can be yourself and have fun, and if you are ever so lucky, there will also be music and flattering lighting.
Finding the perfect watering hole, just like with finding that perfect partner, means never hating yourself in the morning. I'm no winner when it comes to relationships; my luck ran out around the same time people started hating Eddie McGuire, but in my search for the perfect TGIF bar I am just lousy with luck.
My visit to Bacchus Wine Bar in Henley Square on Friday night felt a lot like I was walking onto a trendier, beachside version of 'Cheers'. I had to stop myself from yelling "NORM!" as I entered.
It's such a friendly environment where everyone feels like a new friend, and by the end of the night most of them are. Bacchus is a huge supporter of live music and the acoustic duo performing were a big hit. Nothing says 'let's party everyone, it's freaking Friday!' like a bar full of people leaning on friends, strangers or even just the bar while belting "I will walk 500 miles" in cheerful harmony.
I know that we all prefer different elements in our evening habitats. Some people like clubs with sticky floors, limited clothing on their patrons and music so loud that small talk is impossible. Some people like the classy joints with smooth jazz, lots of bowler hats and $50 cocktails.
Some people like pool tables, beer gardens, angry rock music and a subtle air of hostility. Me, I like a place that is not pretentious but definitely not dingy. I like a nice view and attractive bartenders. I like the age group to range from 18 to 80 so that you feel both youthful and world-weary all at the same time. But most of all I like a place that isn't content to just be a place to drink booze.
Bacchus always has something exciting on; later this month you can head on down for Latin-Bachata by the beach which includes free lessons from 3pm onwards. In November they're repeating their Jazz and Shiraz night which sounds like bliss to me. At the very least there'll be live music, delicious food and a great atmosphere.
I suggest heading down before summer really hits. Henley is mayhem during the hot season, best to form your alliances now so that come November you've got a chance of getting a table. If not, maybe I'll let you join mine. At Bacchus we're all friends and we're always glad you came. Don't you want to be where everybody knows your name?