Bars bring the best and, unfortunately, the worst out of people. While most nights are fun and entertaining for both patrons and staff, we have all seen different kinds of bad behavior over the years—from the rude and obnoxious to just plain scary.
So in an effort to help make everybody’s experience a little bit better, I’ve put together a cheat sheet of common things you should never do in a bar. (Not that you would ever dream of doing any of these things.) We hope it helps!
Don’t be a bad tipper.
Sure, it’s not always easy figuring out how much of a tip to leave for drinks. But that doesn’t mean you should be stingy. In fact, leaving at least 20 percent or more if you get special service is appreciated. So, if you’re racking up a hefty tab or plan to become a regular at the place, be sure to tip well. You will be remembered. That’s a unique skill that all great bartenders possess.
Don’t wave money to get a bartender’s attention.
Why not? It’s rude, not to mention that it won’t convince a bartender to serve you first. Instead, make eye contact and be patient. You just may get your drinks faster!
Don’t order cocktails in a beer bar (or beer in a cocktail bar).
Surprised that your Martini doesn’t taste right? Well, you may be in the wrong type of bar. Generally, I’ve found it best to order cocktails in a cocktail bar and beer in a beer bar. While there are, of course, exceptions to this rule (and many places offer great mixed drinks and brews), it holds up in most establishments.
Don’t make the bartender pick your drink.
These days, cocktail menus can be quite long, with dozens of options. So no one would blame you for enlisting the bartender’s help to make a decision. But ultimately, the decision has to be yours. If you don’t like the drink, you will subconsciously put the blame on the bartender and not tip well. The more info about your likes, dislikes and taste profile (sweet vs. dry, rocks vs. up, fruity vs. boozy) you give the bartender, the better he or she can guide you.
Don’t leave a huge mess in the bar.
This sounds pretty obvious, but bartenders have a lot to do during and after their shift. I think you’ll agree that bartending definitely qualifies for Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. If you do have a spill (or something worse), you should at least offer to help clean it up. It would be helpful to place your wet cocktail napkin, swizzle stick, and garnish skewer in the glass to discard or food scraps on your plate.
Don’t ask for a free round.
Let’s get one thing straight: A free drink is not a right even if you’re dating the bartender’s sister. Whether a bartender buys you a round is up to him or her, no matter how many drinks you’ve ordered. I guarantee that demanding one isn’t going to help the situation. So if you’re lucky enough to get a freebie, enjoy it—and, of course, tip well.
Don’t insult the bartender’s choice of profession.
When chatting with your bartender, we suggest not asking questions like “what do you want to do when you grow up?” or “what’s your real job?” These types of questions are not only patronizing but presume that bartending is not a real profession or a suitable career, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a serious job that requires excellent customer service and people skills, sales techniques, multi-tasking, rigorous training and study of mixology and hospitality.
Don’t request off-the-wall drinks another bartender made for you.
“So the other night, this dude at another bar made me this awesome drink that was blue and it had vodka in it and some kind of juice…” No matter how talented the bartender is, this is not going to end well. It’s pretty tough to recreate a drink for you based on a vague description, and that’s not to mention that the bar may not have poured the right ingredients in the first place. We, bartenders, will make every attempt to decipher the code by asking questions, but it is nearly impossible to replicate that drink. Unless you can produce a full recipe, complete with measurements, it’s best to try something else.