A friend posted a link on facebook: "100 Ways to Flirt With Guys". Number 92 says, "Flirt with someone at a bookstore by slapping the book out of their hands and whispering 'books are word prisons!' Then karate chop the air and saunter away." While I agreed with a couple other friends that this method would totally work on me, it's fairly clear that this is a joke post making fun of the teen girl how-to magazines (I hope so! "Bake him a salad" sounds like a joke, but there are a lot of idiots).
And then a friend (a girl) mentioned how at least these suggestions are better than the line, "can I buy you a drink?"
That line always bothered me too, though I never thought about why until today. And then I realized that it's because that statement is not a pick-up line. Not really.
It's an offer.
Here's how a lot of guys think it works: Guy sees girl at the bar, finds girl attractive. He walks over, asks "Can I buy you a drink?" If the girl says yes, she must be into him. If she says no, then no harm done, move along.
Let's look at it from a different perspective: Girl is seated at the bar, a random guy walks up out of the blue and asks "Can I buy you a drink?" Girl gets creeped out by a stranger trying to ply her with alcohol with the intention of getting her drunk enough to take home.
Guys, if "can I buy you a drink" is your opener, you got problems. Because in my experience, the girl you'd rather take home is the one who'd say "no" to an opener like that.
But like I said, "Can I buy you a drink" is an offer. And there is totally a correct time to use the line: after the two of you are already talking.
Here's the thing: lots of people, men and women, go to bars to meet people. So a strange man walking up to a girl is to be expected, that's how people meet (there are occasions, of course, where it should be perfectly obvious to anyone not blitzed out of their gourd that the girl just wants to be left alone). With a reasonable amount of charisma, confidence, and humor (some combination of at least two of the three) any guy can spark up a conversation with any girl at a bar (notice how I didn't mention how a guy or girl looks? That's because, at least initially, it doesn't matter). That's why the girl went to the bar. Drinking at home is cheaper, safer, and easier to avoid talking with strange men.
So get the girl talking. Have a conversation. Don't mention how she looked so hot that you just had to come over and talk to her. She already knows, because you came over and talked to her. If she is already drinking, wait for her to finish. If she isn't drinking and you are, wait until you finish.
Then, and only then, do you say some variation of, "let me get the next round."
The idea you are trying to present is that you would like to continue talking, over drinks. What you are offering her at that point, is the opportunity to assess you and determine whether she wants the conversation to continue.
That's what I mean when I say "can I buy you a drink" is an offer. It's a poor way to start a conversation, but it's a great way to keep the conversation going.
Girls know within 30 seconds whether or not they want to talk to you and they know within 5 minutes whether or not they might be game for the possibility of more than talking. Be patient, be confident, smile and laugh. Compliment her (or tease her if she's being self-deprecating) when she talks about herself and don't be afraid to brag a little when she asks about you.
If she's told you three things about herself and asked three things about you, she's probably going to let you buy her next round.