I stumbled across this blog entry the other day and it really tickled me. How to get a drink at a busy bar. It was written from a bartender’s perspective and it’s funny how much common sense, well, isn’t so common. The author narrows down the bar etiquette to five simple tips. As a bartender, I can’t help but be passionate about these subjects, so I added my own comments to each of the five tips.
1. Always, always, tip.
This is so true. I tend to treat everyone the same… or at least appear to treat everyone the same. But I didn’t forget that you barely left a dollar last round for the five pain in the ass drinks you ordered. *Frozen drinks are every bartenders worst nightmare… I hate you if you order one, let alone more than one.* I also didn’t forget what those drink were, asshat.
Tipping exactly 20% on that credit card slip for the hours you sat at my bar just isn’t appropriate. You’re at the bar, not a table. At least round-up to $10, Cheapy McCheapskate. DO take note of the free drink or shot, include the amount of that freebie in your tip. Just because I didn’t make a public announcement that I bought you a drink, doesn’t mean you didn’t get one… Asshat!
Another red flag for me is a large group of ‘friends’ meeting up and leaving a varying times. Don’t rely on the last friend at the bar to tip appropriately for your large pain in the ass group. He/She won’t. They’re almost always surprised at the tab given to them. As if I’m lying that ten people drank $80 worth. If you say “Don’t worry I have a tab!”, realize that this means you nominated yourself responsible. You also pretty much said, I’ll buy your drink. Even if you leave your idiot friend enough to cover your drink, someone else didn’t even leave a dollar towards theirs in your group. If you aren’t going to shake down your friends for enough cash, suck it up and pay for them appropriately. I can’t tell you how many groups didn’t even leave enough to cover their tab, let alone tip me.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t have the rare customers that tip a little low and I still treat them like gold. See number 5. Heartfelt praise goes a long way, but I can smell a scam. Telling me you’re a bartender or that you’ll take care of me well, usually means, “I definitely won’t tip well at all”. Bartenders show other bartenders that they are bartenders through action, not talk.
This all happens on a regular basis. In fact, multiple times during EVERY shift I’ve ever worked.
2. Know what you’re going to order before you start yelling for service.
Yes, the sign of a true amateur. You have no concept that I’m busy and that I said I will be right with you. You don’t care. You are the only person important in the entire restaurant and you will die of thirst if I don’t come to you right now. Oh, but you don’t know what you want!? I love standing idle while you think about it and the rest of the world is waiting for me. Including all the rest of the patrons that KNOW what they want! This is the worst torture. Acknowledge my anguish face and let me go back to working. Good bartenders are like sharks that can’t stop moving. We are busy.
As for the big groups, get it all together for a one shot order. Five Bud bottles, two Coronas, a Jack and Coke and a vodka tonic, house is fine. Specify your liquor, meaning brand. I always will ask you if you didn’t specify and it will annoy me when you don’t know. I will also seethe when you tell me this order one at a time. “Oh and another Bud…” “And another Corona…” Realize I’m thinking… “I will throw this drink right in your face!”
I understand indecision better than anyone. When I can’t decide what I want at a bar, I say, gimme a minute… or I suck it up and order the same drink I ALWAYS get. I know you have a regular drink, the one that you can get at any bar. If you don’t know that drink. Don’t go out until you find it.
3. Chief, Boss, Bro, Scout, Partner, Dude…
I call everyone sweetie and honey… but I’m the bartender. I wear a name tag and there’s a good chance that someone you are sitting next to at the bar knows my name. Just don’t abuse it and be aware that I will initially give you the eye if you know my name and I don’t know you. You can get my attention with “Excuse me” or “When you get a minute”. These are soothing and polite. Yelling anything at all across the bar to get my attention is rude. I will make a pass, and I will look at you every chance I get. Chill out.
If I’m sitting on my ass not doing a damn thing but ignoring you, I either suck at being a bartender or you are cut off. It’s probably best that you just leave.
4. Don’t stand at the server station.
I know, it’s the only place you could get to the bar. At least acknowledge that there are an awful lot of unattended drinks and empty glasses here. Hmmm, no seat… this is a temporary place. No leaning, no lingering… find someplace else to hang. Understand that I may be in the middle of making a large amount of orders here. Look before you interrupt. Tip: Look for little pieces of paper, aka tickets, with drink orders on them
While you are in the server station flap, do not snack from my garnish tray. Ask me for cherries, olives or for an extra lime and I’ll get it for you. One hand in everyone’s garnish is more than enough.
5. Be a regular.
Being a regular means a lot. I’ll remember your drink. If you are a welcomed regular, it will be ready before you find a seat. The drink will keep coming until you say to stop. I may even remember your name. Becoming a regular takes more than just showing up.
Don’t be offended if I don’t remember your name, be persistent, polite and well, regular… Know that not every bartender is into sports, so this may not be your winning conversation. Keep your conversations impersonal and mostly about you. This is not what most people tell you, but I’m a bartender and I’ll reveal my personal information about myself when I like you. You’ll know when it happens. Until then, I need to know something about you first.