The Just In Time For Last Orders Pint

by Steve

Couple sat at window of pub

Following on from the Missed Train Pint and The Pint With Your Fish and Chips On A Friday, I thought I’d return to the subject of my favourite drinking scenarios, which brings me to the joy of the Just In Time For Last Orders Pint.

This isn’t just the last drink of the night. They are rarely the best drinks, as the drinker is usually a little woozy, a little tired and no longer in the best frame of mind to truly enjoy the drink. This pint is the drink you manage to snatch at the end of the evening, when it looked like you’d never make it to the pub in time.

Perhaps you have spent the last few hours returning from watching your football team lose terribly. Maybe you have been stuck in work until really late. You might even be a particularly civic-minded person and have spent the evening in a boring, yet incredibly important and earnest, committee meeting.

You have spent the evening watching the clock. This is not necessarily just with a pub visit in mind. More, that you have seen the minutes slip by that you would have rather spent doing something fun, or at least something of your choice.

And then a miracle happens. You find yourself free, and near a pub. And the pub isn’t closed yet. There is still time to salvage something from the evening. Here is your reward.

You need a good pub in this scenario. It is no good finding somewhere that is more than willing to take your cash at 10.59pm, but wants you out of the building at 11pm. The less said about the establishments that start closing sections of the pub from 10.30pm the better. You need a solid, proper pub. A place that understands it is a refuge, a home from home, a place of welcome more than commerce. A place that once you have had your drink will ease you back into the real world, not bark at you to get out.

You also don’t really want a popular pub. This is your first pint of the night. You are out of sync with the night’s other drinkers. A fight to the bar is the last thing you need. Better to find the quiet pub, although not too quiet. Or the pub that everyone goes to before moving on, so by the time you enter there is more space, yet not the oddness of a pub nobody ever goes to.

So, we reach the bar. This isn’t the time to start doubling up on pints. Buy just the one. Don’t look greedy, or weird. It almost doesn’t matter what the drink is, although this probably isn’t the time for the Russian Imperial Stout that deserves your attention over an hour or so. The beer should be quaffable, even if you don’t feel like quaffing.

If you do quaff your beer, good for you, and you might then sneak in another drink before the bell goes. This is a small victory, one to savour, but one that you should not aim for, just let it happen. There is a game of timing here, but it needs to be implicit, unconscious. Either drink quickly enough for a second, or slow enough that you can enjoy your drink over the drinking-up time. You have good boozing instincts. Use them.

Now is the time to look around the bar. Take a deep breath. You got there. You’ve earned this drink. This is your time to debrief on the day. To take stock.

Then the barman mentions a lock-in…

Image from Andy Matthews, via Flickr