If you’re a regular patron of the kind of drinking establishments where the bartender doesn’t ask what brand of whiskey you’d prefer when you order a shot, you’ve likely seen some of your fellow customers tap their glass on the bar before throwing it back.
There’s a good chance you do the exact same thing—much like there’s a good chance you don’t really know why. In the same way you probably instinctively cross your fingers or knock on wood for good luck, knocking your shot glass on the wooden expanse at a drinking hole is one of those things a lot of people sort of just…do.
Why? Well, we did some digging to try to figure out an answer. It turns out there’s not a consensus when it comes to the origins of this tradition, but we’ll let you peruse this list of possible theories and let you pick the one you want to deploy to impress your fellow drinkers after slamming back a round.
Why Do People Tap Their Shot Glass On The Bar Before Drinking It?
- There are some who say you tap your glass on the bar to pay your respects to friends who couldn’t make it out or fallen friends who can’t enjoy a shot of Jameson. It was apparently the Middle Ages version of pouring one for your dead homies.
- In ancient Ireland, drinkers at the pub thought their whiskey might have evil spirits that could be harmful if consumed, but tapping the glass scared away the demons.
- There is the legend of Aldwyn, a 5th-century Saxon peasant who was said to be the first person to tap his glass upon a rough-hewn bar to ward off evil spirits.
- There is a belief that you give cheers by clinking glasses with friends to welcome the future, but you tap the bar to remember the past.
- When someone taps their shot glass on the bar, it is to show respect to the bar or tavern that you are in as well as the employees of the establishment, especially the bartender. It is said that clinking glasses is to toast one another, but tapping the bar is to toast the house.
- If you have a beer, tapping your mug is said to cause the head to settle. This is especially handy if you are competing in a drinking contest.
- If you were in a drinking contest, the sound of your cup hitting the table would allow the judges to hear that all of the contestants started at the same time.
Whatever your reason for tapping the bar, savor the shot, but most importantly cherish the company of good friends.