We were often discouraged from becoming regulars at bars by our parents. Don't become a bar fly, they said. Low lifes hang out at bars. Do something useful with your time. At the moment it seemed to make sense, but that was many years ago. Having experienced the highs and lows that all human beings go through, I've found the bar to become quite a comfortable warm place to be, with therapeutic qualities.
Not all bars are great places though. They're probably a handful I go to on a semi-regular basis and I consider these to be "good" bars.
Probably the biggest reason for why I keep coming back. It's going to cost less in gas money and I'll be at lest risk of coppers if I go to a bar that is in a convenient location from my house.
A bar needs to be more than just convenient. Yeah, if there are tons of TV's and NASCAR promotions/ads on the wall, chances are, that's not going to be my place. If you the music selection is really bad and it's packed with local college kiddies, that probably won't be my place either. A decent mix is fine, more ladies is better, but that's not always going to be the case.
I don't drink anything but Beer and Ale really. There should be a nice selection of that at a bar. Drinking the higher quality stuff just goes down easier, makes me feel better, especially during the next day. Find a place offer the good shit.
Events, in a lot of cases can be nice. I really need to avoid all open mics and most cover bands because both the noise and the people they draw in are seriously tough to take. I've worked out a good thing with my local bar where my band plays twice a year. (We're not a cover band). Trivia nights can start out fun then become fucking annoying.
Usually after beers you get hungry. You don't need excellent food but you don't want shit either. Bar food can get old. Wings need to be top notch. I wish bars would serve Chinese take out. Somebody should do that (or do it more often). Another thing with bar food is that it can be overpriced.
You want bartenders that will serve you promptly and not get upset if you try to get their attention if you're not served promptly. You want a bartender who will listen and not judge and be smart enough to get your humor. It's okay if you can talk politics with your bartender, but you don't want them preaching at you. You want a conversation - if that's possible, depending on how busy the crowd is. That's hard for some people. Most bartenders should have some knowledge about sports.
A jukebox is always nice in the place. Lighting should turned down. It should feel warm. Strangely enough, the bar I go to most has grade school cafeteria style lighting and it doesn't bug me that much. You shouldn't feel uncomfortable in any bar, even if it's your first time. Hardwood floors are nice if you can do that. Unfortunately, more flat screen TV's are going up in what used be quite cozy bars. People are just too dumb to talk to each other anymore. WTF?
These are just a few things to consider, if you haven't when deciding about a bar. Some things you won't find out until after you put your time. It wouldn't hurt to bring the above things mentioned, in, to serve as a checklist though let it be known, you're first try at any bar might lead to some minor awkwardness, which will soon pass.