Jul 09, 2020

A bartender’s guide to bar behavior

I took up bartending when I went back to school so that I could pay my bills while I got my education. I decided to take the job in the service industry because I figured if I made good tips, I wouldn’t have to work a full 40 hours a week to make ends meet.

Since then, I have discovered two things. First, it doesn’t always matter how great you are at what you do or how great your service is. Most of the time, people have already made up their minds whether they are going to tip you or not. In this case, you can have a great tip night or a horrible tip night, and it really isn’t decided by how great your were to the customer, what you were wearing, etc. It’s almost like it’s predetermined before you even walk in the door how well you are going to do that night.

Secondly, liquor brings out the absolute worst in people. If you weren’t already a big whiny baby before you walked in the door, the chance of you becoming one practically triples once you have a few shots in you.

The following are suggestions that will not only allow the customer to have a better time, but to prevent the bartenders from talking mad smack about you when you aren’t in earshot:


“To Ensure Prompt Service,” tip your bartender. If you don’t tip your bartender, the chances of getting anything extra automatically decreases to next to none. If you want to complain that your drink is not strong enough, maybe you should have tipped, or tipped better. Most bartenders depend on their tips to survive. Therefore, a tipper will almost always be served before a non-tipper. At our bar, we have a saying: “You take care of us, and we’ll take care of you.”

Also, don’t use the excuse “the economy is bad” for the reason you can’t tip. If you can’t afford to tip, you shouldn’t be going out spending $3 or more per drink. If you were really that broke, you’d be at home in front of your TV with a couple of 32s like the rest of the broke folks.


Bring them! We do not sit around and think of ways to ruin your night. It is California state law that you are required to have your ID on you if you are present in a bar. It doesn’t matter how many times you have been there or which bartender knows your name and the name of your dog. This doesn’t change the law, and no matter how great a customer you are, you are not worth the business losing its liquor license.


Pretty or not, you do not have the right to make inappropriate comments to your bartender. Furthermore, it is NEVER OK to make inappropriate physical contact.

If you want to ask your bartender out on a date, be prepared to be rejected. It’s nothing against you personally.

And no, it doesn’t matter how much you tip. If I went out with every person who hit on me, I would certainly have some sort of disease by now. Gross, right?

Don’t get mad if you have to wait. If it’s busy, the bartender, no matter how skilled, can only do so many things at once. It doesn’t matter how frantically you wave your money at them or how loudly you yell ‘EXCUSE ME!’

There are other people who are waiting for their drinks too, and everyone needs to wait their turn. Remember, nothing tragic is going to happen to you if you have to wait five more minutes for your next drink.

Don’t order the same drink from two different bartenders. If you tell one bartender what your order is, they are going to make it. Even if you have to wait a few minutes, don’t tell another bartender what your order is as well.
You will get two drinks, and you should be charged for both of them.


Don’t forget that everyone goes out so they can relax or have a good time. No one wants to see you pound someone in the face because they accidentally looked at your girlfriend the wrong way or spilled a few drops of beer on your shoes. Trust me. This will make you look REALLY dumb. If you can’t handle your liquor, don’t go out. Or at the very least, take it outside like they did in the good old days so you don’t ruin anyone else’s time or get someone hurt who wasn’t even involved.


Don’t be upset if your bartender does not want to drink with you. Remember when the bartender is behind the bar, they are there to work. You may be out to have a good time, and you are probably having way more fun than the person who has to stand for eight hours and answer to your every need. Bartenders are there to make money. Although it can be fun to have a shot or two with the customer, remember that some work five or more days a week, and furthermore, some actually do care about the health of their liver. Most of us don’t feel like getting hammered every single night of the week.

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