I could probably write a book just on this subject alone, but for purposes here, I am listing MY biggest pet peeves behind the bar. There’s no easy way to say this: A bad bartender can ruin an otherwise good night, especially if it's that one time you and your date, spouse, partner, or mistress decide to have a night out. Nobody wants to be faced with an inattentive, surly, or irresponsible bartender—it’s just no fun. I'm sure most of you can relate to having this experience.
To be fair, being a good bartender is a very hard job. You need to not only mix a fine and exquisite drink, pour a proper pint, or use your creativity, but also make small talk, engage in crowd control, monitor unruly guests and clean up all kinds of spills and messes. It’s a constant juggling act of different tasks not to mention all the shenanigans on a nightly basis.
While the number of competent bartenders across the country has grown exponentially over the last decade, sadly there are still many incompetent ones out there. So in order to help 'raise the bar', research and studies have been conducted observing bartender behavior. Nearly 400,000 Facebook fans described their worst bartender moments. Many of them are contained here along with my views. You just may be surprised by their responses. So the next time you are at a bar or wedding reception, take note - you've been warned!
Touch the rim of a glass
While we are usually concerned about what goes into a glass, many of us are bothered by bartenders touching the rim of a glass. The proper technique is, of course, to always handle a glass by the stem or base, unless you’re rubbing a citrus wedge on the rim to coat it with salt or other spices—and even then, only fruit, not fingers, should touch the rim. It drives me crazy when bartenders grab a glass over the top.
Use a cell phone
We’re all guilty of checking our phones from time to time when we shouldn’t, whether it be at work, in a movie, or at a family dinner. But as with any other job, bartenders shouldn’t be on their personal phones making calls, texting, or using Facebook during a busy shift. The one exception is, of course, looking up a recipe for an unfamiliar drink.
Say “I don’t know how to make that” or refuse to make something
Yes, drinkers sometimes ask for questionable drinks, complex cocktails and otherwise obscure recipes. But flat-out being denied does not go well. If a bar stocks the ingredients needed to make the drink, then an attempt must be made whether or not the bartender personally wants to or not. If the bar doesn’t have the right ingredients, then the bartender should recommend a similar drink or a drink with a similar flavor that the patron might enjoy.
Drink (excessively) on shift
While even the best bartenders in the world will occasionally have a shot or sip a drink during their shifts to make sure it is made right (use swizzle stick), a bartender should never get plastered while on duty. It’s hard enough to do your job while sober, let alone after too many shots of Tequila.
Constantly chat with other bartenders
There are plenty of times during the week when bars are quiet, and it’s understandable and perfectly reasonable for bartenders to chit-chat and catch up during those periods. But during happy hour and other peak times, the focus should be on the customers and making drinks. There are few things that guests hate more than trying to butt into a conversation between two bartenders or a bartender and server to order a drink.
Scoop ice with a glass
One thing you should never see your bartender do is use a glass to scoop ice out of the ice bin. It can easily break or chip, sending glass shards into the cubes of ice and the whole bin. Since glass and ice are both clear, it’s nearly impossible to remove the shards without emptying out the whole bin, which is very time-consuming and cause the guest to wait longer for their drink. If you do see this happening, it's probably better to order a beer or a glass of wine, tell a manager, and to pick another bar next time. Bartenders know better.
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