Green’s Dictionary of Slang

watering hole n.

also water hole
[SE water-hole, a pool or reservoir, esp. as used by animals for drinking]

1. a restaurant, a bar, anywhere where alcoholic refreshment is available.

[US]E. Dundy Dud Avocado (1960) 86: His own preferred watering-hole, the Select in Montparnasse.
[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 70: Stag – who had kept the lamps going all the night before in the watering-holes.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 205: This water-hole had extracted quite a few quid out of me in one way and another.
[US]J.D. Horan Blue Messiah 83: For Gus, who maintains the best watering hole in this lousy town.
[US]J. Charyn Marilyn The Wild (2003) 5: He knows all my resting places [...] Every water hole.
[US]Philadelphia Inquirer (PA) 6 Feb. 19/1: The Irish belters [...] who belly up at the watering hole [...] never thought they would see old Shoosh Novelli banging down a shot and a beer again.
[UK]T. Lewis GBH 15: You don’t go down to the nearest watering hole [etc].
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 71: I don’t just collect books of matches from the various watering holes I frequent around the world.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 61: The Dutch Treat, a nondescript neighborhood watering hole near the National Archives.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 85: So, it was only natural that the Sydney was one of the favourite watering hole for all sorts of entertainment types.
[Aus](con. 1945–6) P. Doyle Devil’s Jump (2008) 175: We were mostly hitting water holes where I wasn’t known.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 262: The opportunity came to open up my very own watering hole.
[Aus] A. Bergen ‘Dread Fellow Churls’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Next stop watering hole — Ziggy’s gin mill.
[US]T. Robinson ‘Last Call’ in Dirty Words [ebook] I spent the afternoon trying to find them at all the other watering holes.
Facebook 15 July 🌐 It was right next to the watering hole where old mate shit his daks when this daggy, yobbo bugger came at him with an axe.
[UK]‘Aidan Truhen’ Price You Pay 103: [J]oin me at a nearby watering hole and drink a refined cocktail sporting some sort of combination of fruit and umbrellas in celebration.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Shore Leave 26: Webb had the name of their last watering hole.

2. (gay) an area where one can wander in search of sexual partners, usu. a park or a bar.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.