10 Things You Should Never Do At a Bar, by Your Bartender

Bars and pubs are the schoolyard recesses of the adult world. They’re where everyone goes to hang out, where friends are made, and where, every once in a while, your sissy friend goes home crying. As the pinnacles of our social worlds, it’s important to remember our manners, just as we would at any social establishment. And none of those manners matter more than those directed towards the gatekeeper of the nightworld: the bartender.

10. Don’t ever ask for free drinks

Oh there was a buy one get one free deal at the Safeway you just came from? Great bro, but let’s keep it that way. While many an experienced patron, with the right combination of frequency and tits tips has gotten a round on the house, these are not favors that should ever be instigated. The bartender is not running the local alcohol donation center, and there’s no quicker way to get on his bad side than to be that guy asking to be “hooked up” after your third drink.

9. Tip appropriately

By far the most important rule on this list. Due to some unfair laws and country norms, most people in the service industry make a base pay of far below the standard minimum wage (we’re talking 3.00 an hour in some states). Which means that without your tips, the bartender is going to have a bad time paying rent this month. No one’s asking you to be the Bill and Melinda Gates of the after hours crowd, but if you were imbibed on time, and if the bartender wasn’t the spawn of the satan, please remember to take care of them. That means one dollar a beer, and 20% on a tab.

8. Bartenders are people (sometimes even smart people)

While people tend to remember to treat people in the service industry like people, it seems to be forgotten all too quickly with a third shot of Jameson and a trove of drunken blondes. Your bartender is a person, and for all you know he’s paying his way through college, med-school, or just supporting his family through honest work. Don’t snap your fingers at him, don’t wave money in his face, and don’t talk down to him. We’re all on different walks in life, so never assume anything about why someone is in his particular profession.

7. Know What You Want

This rule seems to be violated most by the thirty-something crowd, out for a girls night out after watching Eat, Pray, Love, who want to just have have something “fun,” without doing any research. But for any of those of you bros out there who have ever said “Surprise me” or “What do you recommend?”, please stop. Not only is it taxing (and time consuming) for a bartender to brainstorm drinks for you, but it also almost always results in a less satisfied customer (i.e. less tips). Get to know a few drinks, try them out, and know what you want like a proper gentleman. And if you are really in the mood to try something new, make sure it’s a slow night , and start off by first telling the bartender what base liquor you’re in the mood for. Oh, and tip well.

6. One Tab Per Night Please

Admittedly, I have to confess to violating this one a few times myself actually. In these days, carrying cold hard cash seems more foreign than texting money to China and having Bitcoins appear in the tip jar. But alas, while great strides have been made in smart phones and tablets, the process for opening and closing a tab at a bar is still as cumbersome as it was in the pre-internet era. And while no one’s asking you not to use your credit card (well, actually some bars do this), please keep the plastic to a minimum. This means keep your tab open until you’re absolutely sure you’re done, and then close it all it once, and promptly. In large groups, figure out who’s paying and work the rest out between yourselves. It’s not a restaurant, and the bartender does not want to use five credit cards to close out a $30 tab.

5. Your Drink is Strong Enough

A common and annoying faux pas, do not tell your bartender that you drink doesn’t taste strong enough. Mixing drinks is above all else about ratios, and chances are the bartender knows much more about proper portions than you do. If it tastes weak, it’s likely that the drink was either made well, or the establishment has pre-specified liquor amounts to use on particular drinks, which may well mean your gin and tonic only has one shot in it. But the bartender cares about their job more than your quest for a hangover, so please don’t try the “Hey man, you want to take it easy on the ice on this one?”

4. Know the Venue, Order Appropriately

Would you order jagerbombs at a wine bar? How about craft beer at a cocktail bar? No? Then don’t expect to get a glass of the 2008 Gavi de Gavi at your local dive bar either. Everyone is entitled to ordering whatever alcohol helps wash away the week, but that is also why God invented different bar venues. Take a look around the bar you’re at; the liquors out aren’t just for easy access for the bartender. They also serve as a guide to what you should order. If you want to order Irish car bombs until you’ve gotten your daily nutritional intake of calcium, first double check that the name of the bar you’re at begins with the letter “O” and that it hasn’t been reupholstered in years. Then make sure you know where the bathroom is.

3. Don’t Hit on the Bartender

Unless you’re a bombshell of a blonde, or a pickup master, don’t hit on the bartender. It’s alluring, and it always seems just a hair away from possible, but remember that these are paid professionals who for the most part try and be friendly with their customers. But they’re on the job, and there is nothing more annoying than someone trying to make small talk when there are 10 drink orders on deck (except of course, you are exception #1. In which case, please continue).

2. Don’t Get Too Drunk

Now clearly there is some gray area on this one. We all try and control ourselves, but admittedly, the line gets a little blurry between the seventh and the eighth shot. But while life as a fake ID-wielding bar newbie meant getting blacked out and passing out in the back booth, things should start to change by the time you’re out of college.

There are exceptions: we all reserve the right to annihilate our brain cells on our birthdays, and our boys’ birthdays, but be careful about where and how you do this. ¬†There is no quicker way to get banned from your local bar then drunkenly reaching into the tip jar ala George Costanza to make sure the bartender saw you tip. He’s not gonna hear your excuses between the slurring and the cursing of the bouncer dragging you out.

1. Don’t Try and Cut The Line

If it’s crowded like a Chinese subway up at the bar, then it’s because it’s a Friday night and you’ve discovered the bar where all the hot chicks hide out. It’s not because all of those other people are unimportant, have no money, or haven’t already ordered a drink from the bartender and are now his BFF because they know his name. The polite procedure for ordering a drink goes as follows: make sure to make yourself visible, make eye contact once to signal you’re ready to order, and then wait patiently like a civilized human being. Cutting the line is a commodity that is hard earned, and so unless you’re childhood friends with the man behind the counter, or if you’re known to tip like T-Pain at a strip club, don’t expect to get that special treatment.

[Photo: StockLite/Shutterstock]