No doubt, the title of this post makes this sound much more grand than it actually is. I apologize if you’ve been misled into thinking this was going to be a deep dive into the ancient cultures of some far away land. Alas, it’s really just about going to different bars. In the search for places to go and things to see, I have taken up collecting drink chips.
Here’s something I’ve learned. A goodly portion of you out there might ask yourself “What’s a drink chip?” Being from Wisconsin, I find it nearly impossible that people don’t know about drink chips, but this is what I’ve learned. Many people don’t know what drink chips are.
Drink Chips are little poker chips or some other token that a bartender will give a patron. The chip can be redeemed for a drink at some point in the future. Now you’ll probably say “Oh… my bartender just puts a shot glass down in front of me to signal that I have a free drink coming.” Yes… I’ve seen that too. But:
- You don’t really collect those shot glasses
- They’re for “immediate use” only
Drink Chips (as I know them) are something I collect. I’ve only started collecting them recently. In general, drink chips have the name of the bar on them and are a pretty sturdy thing… like I said… a poker chip that you’d get from a casino. But I’ve also collected “wooden nickels” and other forms of “chips”.
Drink chips can also represent different things. Some drink chips are “good for one free drink” where the free drink is a rail cocktail or a domestic beer. Other chips are only good during happy hour. Some chips are literally “good for anything” including top-shelf cocktails. Some drink chips represent actual money. For example you might get a drink chip for $4 off anything. If you order a $5 beer, you just pay the difference.
During my recent trip to (and through) Michigan, I went on a search for drink chips. Many places I went to didn’t have them, but I was able to find come. I’ve also had a few trips into Illinois recently. Again. some places yes, some places no. Contrast this with the places I frequent here in Wisconsin and nearly every place has drink chips. Now I realize there are probably some statutory things that differ from state to state, but still… I’m kind of surprised by the difference in cultures.
It makes me wonder what things bars to in other states that we don’t do here in Wisconsin. I guess I’ll just have to travel more to find out!