Soak up summer on the patio
July 10, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.
BE GOOD TO YOUR BARTENDER AND THEY WILL BE GOOD TO YOU
It's been said that bartenders are like elephants: They never forget. Depending on how you've treated your area mixologist, that can be a good or bad thing.
At least once we've all found ourselves at a busy bar wondering whom we have to sleep with for some service. We've waved our money in the air or whistled at the bartender to get his or her attention, and we've all done some serious pouting - it's human nature.
Chances are we've all broken some cardinal rule of etiquette. But it's not too late.
After picking the brains of some of Victoria's finest, I've got the key to a successful relationship with your area bartender, and it all starts with a little common sense:
• Be courteous: Yes, it is the bartender's job to serve you a drink, but that does not give anyone the excuse to be rude. Don't bang on the bar. Don't whistle at the bartender. Don't wave your money in the air and don't yell. Those are surefire ways to be purposely ignored.
• Be aware: Don't wait until the bartender asks for your order to start thinking about what you want to drink. Be prepared. If you're new to the world of beer and alcohol or you just want to be adventurous, tell your bartender. But if you just don't know what you're in the mood for, step back and wait till you're ready.
• Be grateful: Tipping goes a long way. In fact, tipping goes all the way. If you are unsure of how much to tip, $1 per drink is a fair estimate. Also, if you're not going to tip, don't tell the bartender you'll get them next time - they've heard it all before.
• Be informed: Bartenders are not waiters. Don't call them that.
• Be cool: We all tend to think we're a lot cooler than we really are. But that does not mean we should assume the bartender would know who we are and what we normally drink. Also, it doesn't mean we should expect the bartender to make our drinks a little stronger than they need to be. If your bartender wants to hook you up, let them. But don't expect it. Your area bartender can be a huge asset - treat them right.
Patios - they're practically synonymous with summer.
Absurd, you say?
Well, before you go injecting logic into my statement, challenging it with protests of humidity and a mosquito epidemic, let me prove my point.
The concept of gathering outdoors to dine, drink and enjoy the relief of the night's breeze surely dates back to the prehistoric era. In the 1700s, Italians even coined a term for it. They called it al fresco.
We might not have a fancy word for it in Texas, but being a patio-goer is a way of life, and it's trending all over Victoria.
We're in the south - it's what we do.
While there are a variety of reasons that people chose to take the party outside, ranging from wanting to smoke or a break from the loudness, most simply crave the atmosphere.
You don't feel closed in," Rodney Anderson said from the patio of Drifters. "You feel like you're at home ... like you're sitting in someone's backyard."
Anderson said he and his party would typically sit on the patio till the bar closes.
Inside the bar, a lot of the patio enthusiasts said they feel closed off from other patrons.
Marc Szostak, Shooters' manager, said the difference from inside the bar to outside the bar is like night and day.
Outside, you don't have to deal with stiff, crowded rooms where everyone is bumping into you.
Steven McDonaugh, who was at Greeks 205, said the only place he sits is the patio.
"You can't communicate with the people at the other tables inside," he said. "It's like they bought that table for the night, and that's their space.
"Outside the vibe is more relaxed."
If you're looking to latch on to this national trend or you just want a change of pace, here is a list of our favorite patios in Victoria:
• Where: 700 Coleto Park Road
• Contact: 361-573-5751
• If you're looking for a little bit of Louisiana, you'll find it at the Lost Cajun. The uncovered outdoor patio is right in the middle of lush trees and near Coleto Creek Park. Nets and large rocks decorating the patio give it a swamp-like atmosphere.
• Where: 4102 N. Navarro St.
• Contact: 361-576-0177
• If you're not looking for it, you're not going to find it. Shooters is tucked behind a few buildings on North Navarro Street, giving it a hidden feeling and a break from the rushed sound of street traffic. The patio is well lit with colored lights and is kept cool by a few patio fans.
• Where: 205 E. Constitution St.
• Contact: 361-573-7800
• The patio at Greeks 205 is one of the largest in the area. It also is one of the liveliest. On the weekend, live music draws in big crowds. The patio is dark and relaxed with a few colored lights illuminating the area.
• Where: 2912 Houston Highway
• Contact: 361-572-0222
• If family-style drinking were a thing, Drifters would be the king of it. The small, open patio has only a few tables, but that lends to its charm. Wherever you chose to sit, it's easy to join in on the lively conversations of your neighbor.
The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar
• Where: 1201 W. Stayton Ave.
• Contact: 361-572-9800
• The three-tiered patio is situated right along the Guadalupe River and is all about the atmosphere. The patio typically has a family-friendly vibe, but things kick up Thursday through Saturday when live music is offered.