How to Navigate the Bar Scene After College

First off—congratulations! You’re (finally) done with college. The days of pulling all-nighters to finish final papers are gone! In fact, the days of pulling all-nighters period are gone.

Super seniors, beware—this might not be the most pleasant reading for you. The second you got that diploma, the keggers at frat houses, 3 am Call of Duty Marathons, and spur of the moment trips to Vegas are all in the past now. Actually, check that—there may be one or two spontaneous Vegas trips still in the tank.

You’re hopefully out of mom and dad’s basement, and are getting started with that 9 to 5 grind. The point is, you’re an adult now. Not a young adult, not an emerging adult—whatever that is—but a real bona fide grown-up. It’s time to start acting—and drinking—like one.

Now, we get it—as a new college grad, you might not be able to order top shelf whiskey, but you should try and class up your bar scene. We’re called 5am.ers for a reason: we’re up and at ‘em and ready to hustle at the break of dawn. So from now on, plan your nights accordingly.

As you venture out into this brave new world, you might need a few tips. The following is some useful advice from folks that have navigated these waters before—and come out more successful and fulfilled on the other side.

Avoid the College Bars

You know the ones—you probably have frequented them more than your fair share of times. But that was during your college days. As a graduate, you shouldn’t be waiting in long lines full of oddly dressed barely-legals. You should find a place full of people you want to be like—successful professionals.

Find a quieter, classier place where gentlemen go to drink. An added bonus—this can open up new doors. Your drinking buddy used to be Freddy, the Sociology major who liked to get naked after two shots, but now it could be the executive of the tech company in the high-rise up the road. Don’t waste opportunities to get ahead by drinking with the undergrads.

Class Up Your Drink of Choice

The days of party rocking and Jägermeister were fun, without a doubt. But if you’re trying to replicate those times as a college graduate? That’s just sad. Sit down with a friend and enjoy a whiskey on the rocks, or sample a local IPA—be a gentleman. Be a 5am.er.

In fact, we think you might be surprised. Once you’ve ditched your jello shots and Jack and Coke, you’ll find that there’s a whole world of fantastic drinks that have just been right around the corner. Literally—the bar around the corner is making those drinks at this very moment.

Learn to enjoy a Quiet Night In

You may not feel it coming yet, but you’re getting kind of old. You’re already a fossil to this year’s incoming freshmen, and pretty soon, you might notice that you just don’t have the desire to make every night a party; in fact, you might not even have the energy anymore.

That’s fine! It’s preferable, actually. There’s something liberating about knowing that, if you don’t go out some nights, you won’t be a loser. Quite the opposite—a college grad wasting away time and money trying to relive the glory days is the picture of lame-ness.

The fact is, your glory days are now. You have a job that pays the bills, you have a place to call your own, and that place you call your own should include a liquor cabinet. Use it. Enjoy a nightcap, have some close friends over to play poker, bring home a date—but do it from the comfort of your home.

Call a Cab

Something that shouldn’t need to be said, but, unfortunately, is a real problem. As an adult—and as a 5am.er—you should not only know how to handle your liquor, but also know when you’ve had enough.

Hopefully, you’ve been a responsible drinker since the first drop of booze hit your lips, but if not, now’s the time to start. Odds are, your bar of choice isn’t within walking distance of your dorm anymore, so you should plan accordingly.

More than anything being a 5am.er is about maximizing your life. But part of that is looking out for others. Give yourself a good name, and be a responsible drinker. Know when it’s time to step away, and know when you’re better off calling a cab to get home.

Enjoy Yourself

There’s a myth out there that your college years are the best of your life. The truth is, your post-college life should bring you much more joy and fulfillment. You get to grow more than you ever have before. You have more independence, more money, more time, and more class (and, best of all, no classes).

The way you drink should reflect this. How you drink reflects who you are. People will take note of your habits, and treat you accordingly. If you drink like an adult, people will treat you like an adult. If you drink like an undergrad, that’s how you’ll be treated.

There’s more life to live after college, and it can be much more rewarding and enjoyable—we can vouch for that. So when the end of the work day comes and you loosen your tie, make sure to steer clear of the college bars and go somewhere you, as a 5am.er, will feel more comfortable. We can drink to that.