The best way to avoid a line outside of a crowded bar is to not wait in it in the first place. But, if you’re itching to check out the new hotspot, there are a few strategies you can employ to snag a seat.

The first, and easiest, way to avoid a line is to go on an off night. Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays are typically the slowest nights for bars, and that means you’re more likely to get in. Holiday weekends are also a good bet, unless you live in a vacation hotspot. When people flee the city for Memorial Day or another three-day weekend, you’re much more likely to walk on in without a wait.

Another great strategy is to show up early — happy hour exists for a reason. Sure, you might feel like your grandparents, but snagging the early bird special will ensure that you’ll be on the inside looking out as the line starts to form. And as long as you continue to order and tip well, you can stay as long as you like. Just don’t be surprised if you’re asked to leave if you’re just nursing one drink.

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My third strategy involves employing one of the above first, and then being a killer guest. Tip well, make friends with the staff, and go back often, always on slower nights or at an earlier time. Basically, become a regular. Then, when you have those friends or family in town who are dying to try this cool bar, all you have to do is shoot an email or text over to a staff member you know, and chances are they’ll hold you a few seats. Even packed, trendy bars would always rather have regulars in their seats whom they know tip and treat the staff well, than a guest who is there simply to check their venue off a hit list.