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[Photograph: Alice Gao]

A few weeks ago, I ducked out of work early to visit my favorite bar. As soon as I opened the door, I knew it was a good idea, calling it weekend at 4 p.m. instead of the regular 6:30 or 7. My favorite bartender was there (his regular Friday night assignment), and there were still seats since it was early. The place has a menu, but you can order whatever you feel like. "Something with Old Tom gin," I said.

It was a good drink, and my friend's drink, "something bitter with bourbon," was good too, though more to her taste than mine. And after pouring a beer and making some cocktails for a few other people, my bartender came back to us, leaning the back bar, and telling us about a competition he'd entered. Someone else won. But the drink he'd created sounded good. "I'll call it 'The Loser," he pronounced.

"I want to try it!" I said. And he agreed to make one—but stipulated, "I'll make it for you, but you'll like it better with a little more lime juice."

He was right. He made it that way for me and I loved it. But more, I loved that he knew how to adjust a drink to my particular taste. There are more good bars in New York City than a person can keep track of, but there's no replacing how special it is to have a bartender who knows you—not just your face or your name, but your preferences and which drinks you loved. To be honest, I'm not sure I need another bar in my life when I have this one.

Do you have a place where the bartender knows that you like IPA (or stout), or one who remembers which baseball team you follow or what's going on at your job? Are you a regular at your local joint or at a bar that makes your drink just how you like it? How did you find this place? Will you give away the name?


About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.

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