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5 Things You Should Never Do at a Bar: A Bartender’s Pet Peeves

Think of this as a public service reminder from your friendly, neighborhood bartender.

He wants you to be aware of some of the basic rules that apply at a bar.  He would like to tell you himself when he sees you breaking the rules at his bar, but he would probably get in trouble if he did.

These rules may seem like common sense, but that is often a commodity in short supply in a bar room.

If you’ve ever worked in a bar, you know there are some wonderful, generous customers who are patient and understanding and realize you are working at this job to make a living.  Then, there are the rest of the folks who don’t know, don’t care, or, are just too thirsty to wait in line!

You may not even realize you are in that second category. Here, courtesy of Natali Rivers from Uptown Magazine Online, are some ground rules from a mixologist on basic bar etiquette 101. Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section below.

A bartender’s top pet peeves…

1. Walk up at a crowded bar, work to get our attention, and then don’t know what you want.

Listen, bartending is not always easy or fun. Time management is key because you really don’t have a second to waste. So when you’re waving your money around at me for a minute and I’m able to get to you, please don’t waste my time with “Um, not quite sure what I want…what do you make that’s good?” Get out of my face.

Or, related, ask me how much everything behind the bar is before you can make a decision. If you don’t have money to get what you want, don’t come to the bar.

2. Ask for no ice thinking this will get you more liquor.

Let me let you in on a little secret. You listening? Ahem, ICE HAS NO BEARING ON HOW MUCH LIQUOR GOES INTO YOUR DRINK! Any competent bartender has a count that tells them how much liquor goes into a drink. On average, there’s about 1.5 -2 oz of liquor in any given drink—on the rocks or not. Therefore, when you say you want a Long Island Iced Tea with no ice, all you’re getting is the same Long Island you would’ve had, except now it’s hot. Congratulations.

3. Tell us to “make it strong” or request more (free) liquor in your drink.

First off, this is a bar where we make you the standard drink as it is supposed to be made. So it is likely not to be a strong as the drinks you make yourself in the red solo cups at parties. Just accept that or stay home. Also, if you’ve been drinking already, chances are your perception of strong is a bit skewed, because drinks seem weaker as you get progressively drunker. Plus, if you walk out of our bar and get hurt in any way shape or form, we are liable for your injury no matter what.

Now of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Regular, well-tipping customers will likely get a little extra ‘love’ in their drinks because we know we’ll get taken care of later.

4. Tell us that you deserve a free drink.

Do ya now? Maybe you deserve an entire bottle while you’re at it? Buy backs at the bar are a privilege. They are earned, not given. Only we have the measuring stick to decide when and if you get a free drink. You may think that coming up to the bar twice and tipping us a dollar each time is a qualifier—it is not. Or even if you do tip relatively well, asking for a free drink immediately after completely takes away any desire I might have had to give you anything. Free drinks are given to people who tip excessively and aren’t a–holes. People who are genuinely cool and nice and tip $2-3 each time are more likely to get something than the jerk who snaps at you and tips you $5. Which brings me to the most aggravating annoyance…

5. Don’t tip us.

If you have someone who is polite and gives you your drink in as short a time as possible, TIP THAT PERSON! We get paid under minimum wage in the anticipation that people will tip for our services. Don’t be that guy/girl. It will only lead to lackluster drinks and a longer wait at a crowded bar. Trust me, we will remember your face. Conversely, we remember the faces of those who tip well and always look to help them first in a crowd. Tipping is your friend as much as it is ours!



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