15 Bar Etiquette Rules Your Bartender Wishes You'd Follow
Have you ever wondered why your bartender seems annoyed? It's because, more often than not, you or another fellow bar patron (or both) have done something to deserve it. We deal with more attitude and disrespect on a daily basis than you know.
First, people assume we aren't on their level. But on the contrary, we bartenders are incredibly smart individuals. Some of us hold multiple degrees, or are students pursuing our passions when we aren't behind the bar. Some of us are career bartenders, passionate and highly knowledgeable of spirits or wines. Some of us are artists who couldn't possibly sit behind a desk and watch our dreams disappear while we age into a profession that was never what life intended for us.
For this reason, most of us enjoy chatting with new people, helping you decide on the best drink, and showing you and your friends a good time. But here's the truth: We have the booze, which means we also have the power. You will not get drunk without us. So please, for the love of all things good and pure, do not make our jobs harder.
I spoke to 10 fellow bartenders in Brooklyn, Manhattan, LA, and Boston to find out the most things that we all want you to know about being a good patron. Here are our suggestions for 15 rules every bar patrons should follow.
1. Don't Be Afraid To Admit Your Ignorance
I'm glad and deeply impressed that you can order a classic cocktail off the menu. What I'm not impressed with is having to ask you what brand of whiskey you want in your drink after you've been staring at a spirit list for several minutes. What I'm also not impressed by is you finally telling me "Smirnoff vodka is fine." So, wait, you don't want a Manhattan? You want a Martini? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?
Do not be intimidated. If there is a cocktail you've heard about and you want to know what's in it, just ask us. We're here to help.
2. That Cocktail Napkin Is For Your Drink, Not Your iPhone
I understand that your phone is your everything — it's my everything too. Unfortunately, the bar is not the best place for your 500-dollar phone.
All bartenders splash occasionally, but customers spill their drinks constantly. When the napkin is placed in front of you, it's very tempting to put your prized gem on it. But guess what? Since the bar is basically a haven for spilled liquor, that napkin is actually for protecting the wood from becoming damaged from your drink. Keep your phone in your pocket, and the drink on the napkin.
3. It's Not Our Job To Charge Your Phone
Speaking of your precious phone, please come to the bar with it charged, or at least carrying a charger. Do not get mad because your bartender has an Android and you can't charge your iPhone. The bar is usually not equipped with hundreds of outlets for patrons, and sometimes, we already have two phones charging behind the bar, and there is no room for yours.
Don't be rude because you lost your charge. If you need to call a cab, I will definitely help you out with my fully-charged Android.
4. Please Drink Responsibly
When I check your ID, I expect that your legal age means you can drink responsibly. Of course, I am constantly proven wrong. Most bartenders will not serve someone seven dirty martinis, because we know that no one should drink seven martinis!
If you want to have an unsafe drinking experience, you should go to your home where you are at least safe and don't need to worry about traveling home or acting like a complete lunatic in public. We reserve the right to cut you off at anytime, but please do not make us do that.
5. Do Not Beg Us For More If We Cut You Off
Please, don't beg. Being cut off doesn't mean we want you to immediately leave the bar. Personally, I would rather give you a bunch of water, maybe some coffee, and a snack to help sober you up before you leave.
6. Remember: A Bar Is Not A Playground
Even if it's in a restaurant, most states do not allow children to sit at the bar. Please find another place for your child while you wait for your table, and do not sass us about it. We have to follow the law, just like everyone else.
And if you are an adult drinking at the bar? Please act like one. Read the room; if no one else is dancing on the bar, neither should you.
7. Do Not Ask Us How Much Your Tab Is Every Time You Order Another Round
I have enough parenting to do at my job. I have to make sure that no one is thirsty, that no one is completely wasted, and that everyone pays — all while cleaning and keeping my bar stocked. If I ask you if you want another drink and you make constantly me go back to the computer to tell you how much your tab is, it inconveniences me for the sake of something that you should be keeping track of in the first place.
I definitely want you to be able to pay your tab, but I also need you to keep track of your budget for the evening. Ask me once? Fine. Ask me twice? I grow increasingly annoyed.
8. If We Wanted A Shot, We Would Pour Ourselves One
Although it can be very sweet when a patron offers to buy me a drink or a shot, it's usually unnecessary. If you haven't seen me pour myself a drink or a shot, that's probably because the establishment I work for does not want me drinking on the job.
If your bartender politely declines, do not beg and tell them they are no fun. At the end of the night, when you go home and pass out, imagine us having to get people out after last call, clean up an entire bar, count money, and set alarms. If I want to keep my job, I need to be sober to do all that.
9. Know That We Are Not Licensed Therapists
It may seem like we are the doctor of booze, but don't get it twisted; we are humans just like you. Countless times, people ask me for dating advice, and I literally am no help. I AM A STRANGER. I do not know anything about you besides what you are drinking.
I'm happy to listen to your gripes and carry on with light banter, but I also have a full bar of costumers who also want attention. I can't be there for you the entire duration of your time at my bar. Please don't take it personally.
10. Please Don't Ask Us To "Make It Strong"
I know what I'm doing, and so does my bar manager who creates the drinks. When a patron says "Make it strong" before they've even tasted the drink, I always ask, "Do you want to make it a double?" If you aren't willing to pay for the extra two-ounce pour, please don't ask for it. Chances are the drink is strong enough.
11. I'm Being Nice To Your Date Because I Have To Be Nice To Everyone
Ladies and Gents, we are not flirting with your date. Being nice to them doesn't mean that we are trying to take them home with us or steal them from you. It simply means that we are working for tips.
12. Do Not Touch The Merchandise ...
If you want an olive, a lemon, or any garnish from our caddies, just ask us! We are more than happy to give you extra garnishes, but please don't put your grubby paws on them. I'm sure the other patrons at the bar would appreciate that as well.
13. ... And That Includes Your Bartender
While we're on the topic, do not grab me across the bar and try to hold my hand. And if you see me from behind the bar, don't grab me to tell me your drink order. I may be your bartender, but your 20 percent tip does not mean that you now own me. Keep your hands to yourself, or you likely won't be welcome back.
14. If You Know A Place That Makes A Better Drink, Go There
If you order a daiquiri that isn't even on the menu and your bartender is nice enough to make it for you, please don't tell them that "Applebee's makes a better daiquiri". A simple "Thank you" would be nice — even just saying, "You know what? I'm not in love with this cocktail, would you mind making me something else?" would be fine.
On that note, restaurants (particularly chains) have their signature cocktails (read: mixes), and chances are that if you aren't at that restaurant, another bar may have a hard time recreating it.
15. For The Love Of God, Tip Your Bartender
I may have "just" poured a glass of wine or merely opened a bottle of beer for you, but you still need to tip me. If you don't tip, have fun trying to get that second round, because we are likely to pay more attention to our patrons who are actually paying us.
In some states, we only make roughly $3 dollars per hour as tipped employees. Which means that if people don't tip us, we are not even making regular minimum wage. Do not assume that we are racking in millions of dollars a year because you see a full bar. Always, always tip your bartender.
Image: Georgie Pauwels/Flickr; Giphy