1.) Open and close a bar.
Find one that opens its doors before noon. Stake out a comfortable seat and hunker down. Resist informing the bartender of your tremendous plan, as this will cause him to pour waves of pre-celebratory shots and you won’t survive happy hour. Pacing is everything. Watch the crowds come and go, watch bartenders rise, reign and fade while you remain like a cagey Methuselah. From that day forward, within the walls of that bar at least, your name will be legend.
2.) Go on a bender.
I don’t mean a weekend binge. I’m talking a full-bore, hooch-bent, screw-work hoolihan. Dangerous, yes, but so is getting out of bed in the morning. True benders have gone the way of the snap brim fedora, which makes them all the greater currency in the world of drunks. It won’t be easy. You must start drinking the moment you wake up and carry on until you go under. Then start over again. In your grandfather’s day you had to drink two weeks straight before you could officially declare yourself on a proper jag, but that’s when a mug of beer cost a nickel. These days four straight days and nights will give you all the bragging rights you need.
3.) Drink a fifth of hard liquor, by yourself, in one day.
For some this is a typical evening, the rest will have to try harder. Unplug the phone, don’t answer the door and get down with your bad self. Stock up on ice, gather mixers if you need them, crack the seal and, inch by inch, take that proud bottle down. Take your own sweet time. Near the bottom you will discover a rich inner landscape you thought a barren desert. Explore it.
4.) Dance like a fool in front of a large hooting crowd.
Cast aside your fear of public opinion, march to the center of the room’s attention and boogie down. You don’t need a partner, you don’t even need music, do a happy jig to the beat of your own drum. Of course, it helps to be really really drunk.
5.) Spend a night in the drunk tank.
While getting captured by the Man goes against the most primal of drunkard instincts, if you’re putting your time and liquor in, it’s going to happen. Make the most of the experience. Pretend you’re Cool Hand Luke. And don’t refrain from telling your friends: Among drunks, the real ones anyway, a night in the tank is a very large feather in the drinking cap.
6.) Get drunk on the grave of your hero.
Wait until the cemetery closes for the night, then slip over the fence with a bottle of something strong. Prop your back against the gravestone and tell your hero how much he inspired you, how he changed your life, revel in the fact that your inspiration is only six feet of hard-packed earth away. It’ll be the greatest one-sided conversation you’ll ever have. Then pass out. Let the groundskeeper be your alarm clock.
7.) Buy a crowded bar a round.
For no reason at all. Jump up on a barstool and shout it loud: “A round for the house! On me!” Make sure you have a good toast ready, because, for once, they’ll all be listening.
8.) Embark on an impromptu road trip.
Out of the blue, propose a trip to Las Vegas, New Orleans, Jack Kerouac’s grave or, for the love of God, the Two-Headed Cattle Museum. It doesn’t really matter where, the joy is in the journey. There’s nothing like a sudden burst of irresponsible freedom to shake up your worldview. It will be an adventure you’ll never forget or get tired of talking about.
9.) Get 86’d from a bar.
There are generally two types of drunkards in the world: Those that get 86’d a lot and those who never do. If you’re the latter, you’re missing out on a very special feeling. A man with any character at all must have enemies and places he is not welcome—in the end we are not only defined by our friends, but also those aligned against us. So choose the type of bar you loathe. Get remorselessly smashed on tequila. Let your lizard brain do your talking. Splash the kerosene, drop the match and watch the bridge burn. Few sentences in the English language bespeak a mysterious dark side than: “I’m not allowed in there. And, quite frankly, I don’t blame them.”
10.) Extravagantly overtip a bartender.
The next time a bartender is especially kind or proficient, lay a massive tip on her. I mean, massive. You must be relatively sober or they’ll discount the act as drunken foolishness. Say something smooth like, “You’re the best of your kind,” drop the bomb, and—this is important—walk out of the bar without another word. With this single act of unexpected generosity, you will restore a bartender’s faith in humanity and give your own self-image a healthy boost.
11.) Walk up to an attractive stranger way out of your league and buy him or her a drink.
You always wanted to do it. You’ve enviously watched your smooth friends do it. Now it’s your turn. The fear is nowhere proportionate to the risk to your ego (she’s out of your league, remember?), yet it still requires a certain amount of courage. It’s akin to sticking your hand down into the garbage disposal. The thing isn’t going to turn on by itself, but still...
12.) Conspire an afterhours at your favorite bar.
I’m not talking about them letting you have a quick one in the back while they’re cleaning up. I’m talking about drinking until the sun creeps through the shut blinds. It takes a lot of time and tips to earn the privilege, but there’s nothing quite like it.
13.) Make your best friend a perfect martini.
I mean perfect. Employ the proper utensils and the highest-end liquor you can afford. Follow an old-school recipe and take your time. You know how a handmade present from a child always warms the heart of a parent more than the most expensive gift? Same deal. Just a little something for all the times your pal bailed you out. And after your friend has enjoyed your sublime creation, make yourself one, you magnificent bastard.
14.) Buy, build or steal a home bar.
Put the well right in your home. Outfit it with many sparkling bottles, accruement and tools. Sit on your barstool with a grossly over-poured cocktail and think: “This is my bar. No one can cut me off, no one can kick me out, none but the floor can announce last call.” You’ve been a sharecropper long enough. Get your own plot of land.
15.) Get carried home by your drinking buddies.
In the company of friends you can trust, get fantastically loaded to the point you cannot stand, nevermind walk. Let them brace you from both sides and carry you homeward. Sing like an Irish uncle. Swear love and fealty to your human crutches. These are the bonds that never break.
16.) Get drunk with your father.
Getting loaded with the man who brought you into this world is one of the most deeply mystical experiences a human being can manage. If you can’t get your father to commit, find an elder you respect.
17.) Fight a good fight.
Samuel Johnson said “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Men who go to their graves without ever getting into a fistfight undoubtedly feel the same way. How many times have you gone home thinking, “Damn, I should have clocked that a-hole.” Next time, do it. Swing first, swing hard, and make sure you’re in the right. You may not win, but at least you were in there swinging. Fear of losing a fight never stopped Bukowski and neither should it stop you.
18.) Visit the source of your favorite beer, wine or liquor.
Make a pilgrimage to the headwaters. Follow the river that’s fed you joy to its source. Stand amongst the vats and barrels and absorb the knowledge that this is the spring from which the good times flow. Drink as many free samples as they’ll give you. It might mean a trip to Dublin or Tennessee, but from that moment on you can gaze into your glass and think, “Lad, I met your mother.”
19.) Drunkenly watch the sun come up with your best boozing buddies and a bottle.
You’ve spent plenty of time railing against the dying of the light, this time welcome its birth. With a shot.