I’m not sure in my younger years that I knew how to properly treat service industry personnel, because I had never worked in the business and hadn’t been told. To all those wonderful people who I may have stiffed or offended, I am so sorry! I certainly know better these days and would like to help you not be the asshole that your bartender is cussing all the way home. Pissing off your bartender is never a good idea. Never. It will get you nowhere. It will get you crap service and under poured drinks. Bartenders can and will screw with your night if you don’t behave properly, so I recommend you heed my suggestions for your best night possible.
1. Don’t Tip
This is the most obvious way to piss off your bartender.
If you cannot afford to tip, then you cannot afford to go out. Period. There are zero exceptions to this rule.
There is no justification for not leaving a tip. If a bartender made your drink and served you, then they deserve something. I’ve heard the countless excuses people use to not leave a tip. Often I’ve heard, “The wait was forever.” Ok, well take a look around. Is the bar four lines deep? Is the bartender clearly moving as fast as possible and doing the best he or she can? Then what are you punishing her for, because you came to a busy bar on a Saturday night with every Tom, Dick and Harry? Tip your bartender twenty percent. They work their asses of and they deserve it.
2. Tell them to pour it heavy
First of all, in most bars, inventory is taken regularly and bartenders will be punished, possibly fired, for over pouring drinks. If you want to ask for a double and pay for it, that is fine. But why are you asking this complete stranger to do you a favor and give you something for free? Why do you deserve something free? Are you a regular at this bar? Have you shown yourself to be an above twenty percent tipper? Don’t piss off your bartender by asking for something free right off the bat. Nine times out of ten, those people who ask for free booze don’t leave a tip.
3. Say you can’t taste the alcohol
They are sorry that you’re an alcoholic. That’s not the bartenders problem or fault. When I can’t taste the alcohol, I ask for another shot, which I pay for. If a bartender is pouring your drink light it either means that a) they may already be considering cutting your drunk ass off or b) management has told them to watch their pours. One instance is your fault and the other is management. Don’t complain to the bartender.
4. Don’t have your payment method ready
If the bar isn’t busy and you’re the only customer, then fine. Take your sweet ass time. But when there are other people waiting for drinks and the bartender is moving as quickly as possible to service everyone in a timely manner, why are you the person who makes her stand there and wait for you to rummage through your purse and find your wallet? You know you’re going to have to pay. Be ready to pay.
You being inconsiderate of the bartender’s time is now causing other people to wait who will now blame him and possibly complain to management or write a poor review. Be considerate. You’re not the only person who needs to be serviced.
5. Say you know the owner
Well the owner doesn’t know you, so nobody cares. Your bartender REALLY doesn’t care. You aren’t going to get better service or free drinks. You’re the same as every other customer, except now you’ve pissed the bartender off by trying to drop names. You want your bartender to care about the owner. Come in with the owner. Otherwise, shut the hell up with your name-dropping.
6. Ask them what they like to make
Money. That’s what they like to make. They don’t care what you drink, except possibly wanting to stab you when you order a handmade bloody mary on a slammed night. Asking them what they like to make is like asking an accountant what document they like to prepare. Any of them. All of them. It doesn’t matter. Pick something.
7. Ask, “What’s good?”
They don’t know you. They’ve never seen you before in their lives. How do they know what you would like or not like? Also, most bars carry an array liquors, liqueurs, wine and beer. You want to narrow that down a little? How about you say, “I like a really fruity mixed drink. Is there something special you have that you can recommend?” And they will be happy to accommodate you.
8. Point to drink and ask if it’s yours
Once a drink hits the bar, it is now your responsibility. You can’t leave your drink to go smoke, or go to the bathroom or socialize and expect the bartender to keep up with it. You may or may not have noticed, but there are lots of people and lots of drinks and it’s not the bartender’s job to keep up with yours.
9. Tell them to watch your drink
This follows the same principle as above. Hey, if it’s slow and you need to run to the bathroom, sure. Tell the bartender where you are going and put a napkin on your drink. Asking the bartender to be in charge of your drink while you go do whatever is asinine, especially on a busy night. It’s just not feasible.
10. Ask where so and so is
Why are you asking the bartender where another bartender is? They don’t know. They don’t have their schedule. A more appropriate question would be, “Do you know if Amanda is working tonight?”
11. When they say it’s time to go argue that it’s not 2 am yet
The bartenders have the booze, and they make the rules. You don’t make the rules. This isn’t your job on the line. First, you shouldn’t argue with the bartender. Never a good idea. Secondly, they have liquor laws that they follow. They aren’t up for negotiation. And serving you is not worth losing their job over.
Be gracious and thankful and follow the simple rules. You want to come back, right?
12. Begging for more drinks after last call
This is similar to the one stated above. Last call is a privilege, not a right. They don’t have to do last call. They can just pull your drinks and say that the bar is closed now. Last call is an opportunity for you to get one more round. Usually you have about ten minutes to get to the bar and place that order. The bar is not on your time. You are on theirs. You can get to the bar for last call, like everyone else, or you cannot have a last drink. Your choice. But don’t hassle the bartender because you decided that last call doesn’t apply to you. Trust me, it does. And offering them “x” amount of dollars to do this for you is dumb. If they got fired for pouring you that drink, would your $10 be worth it?
13. Getting their attention and then not being ready
Why are you flagging someone down to get service, only to tell him or her that you aren’t sure what you want? Then why did you flag someone down? If you are with a group and are going to order for everyone, get the groups order and then ask for assistance. Not being ready to place your order once you have asked for the bartender’s time is again selfish and ignorant of the fact that they have other patrons to assist.
14. Ordering the same drinks in different orders
You need to recognize that it is much more time consuming and efficient for a bartender to make three vodka/tonics at once and bring them over at once, rather than you order one, and they make it and bring it to you. Then you order that same drink again, and they make it and bring it to you again. And again. Place your entire order at once. If you placed an order and then forgot one, fine. It happens. But don’t make it a regular occurrence, and when it does happen, be apologetic!
15. Watching the bartender all night and continually asking them what is in the drink they just made
This isn’t Bartending School. Your bartender is busy making drinks, running a bar, tending to customers and trying to give wonderful customer service. Explaining to you the ingredients in every drink they make is not in the job description. It’s distracting. Let them do their job.
16. Asking you bartender to list the beers they carry and then ordering a Coors Light (or any standard domestic beer)
Don’t make your bartender rattle off twenty-five beers by memory and then ask for something they most likely carry. Be specific. “I’m looking for a Mexican beer. What do you have?” Or, “Can I get a Bud Light?” also works great. You know you don’t drink craft beer so why the hell are you asking about it?
17. Asking your bartender what they carry (which they rattle off) and then asking for something not listed.
You: “What domestic beers do you have?”
Bartender: “Coors light, bud light and bud.”
You: “Do you have Miller Lite?”
Bartender: Answers politely, but in their head they are saying, “Did I say Miller Lite???”
18. Making a mess
Yes, it is the bartenders job to clean up after you. But leaving a ridiculous mess for them is just rude. If you feel like you need to tear your cocktail napkin into 150 pieces, which you’ve strewn on the bar and the floor, fine. But pick that shit up.
19. Putting gum in your glass
Your glass is not the appropriate receptacle for your gum. This isn’t kindergarten and you know where it goes, which is in the trash or at the very least, wrapped up in a napkin. You know who has to touch your disgusting gum that came out of your mouth and pull it out of that glass? The bartender does. And maybe you haven’t noticed, but gum tends to adhere to things. Don’t be a douche. Put your gum in an appropriate place. Other things that don’t belong in glasses: chewing tobacco, snot rags and pumpkin seed shells.
I’m sure many of you are guilty of these habits. Consider yourself informed! Being a good customer will go a long way with your bartender. They will take extra care of you and probably throw you a few free drinks here and there. Be kind. If he or she wasn’t as polite as you wanted them to be, consider the possibility that maybe they were having an off day. Maybe their dog died. Maybe their car was stolen. But they are trying to make a living just like the rest of the world.
We are all human beings doing the best we can do. Be nice!
Photo credit: Daniel Hoherd