Here's a great reason to find a local watering hole.

By F&W Editors
Updated May 24, 2017
Best Gastropubs in the U.S.: The Dandelion
Credit: Photo © Starr Restaurants

If you’ve always wanted to become a regular at the bar, chatting away with the proprietor and raising glasses with your buddies, here’s some incentive to make it happen. A recent study found that consistent visits to a nearby cozy pub are beneficial to peoples’ social lives and overall health.

This research was funded by the Campaign for Real Ale, so let's take it with a grain of salt, but its author has legitimate credentials: Professor Robin Dunbar is an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist at Oxford. (You may have heard of his theory that humans can maintain only 150 stable relationships.) Dunbar writes that people who frequent a local bar on a regular basis have more close friends than people who don’t—especially if the bar is small and intimate. You can’t just go and drink alone, though. For a bar to qualify as your “local pub,” Dunbar says you need to know a few other customers and the landlord (or owner or bartender) personally.

You might guess that you'd achieve the same positive effects at the coffee shop, but the study argues that moderate alcohol intake plays an important role. Researchers assert that a limited amount of alcohol helps improve social skills and general wellbeing, which means chitchat and camaraderie come easier.

Don't have a local watering hole? Here are the 27 best gastropubs in the country.