Oh boy. Every now and again I see this list posted on the webternet or FaceSpace and it makes me sigh a heavy, sad sigh. The main search engine return comes from a "best of Craigslist" page from 2007, actually titled "FROM YOUR BArtender." Somebody furiously typed the title with the caps lock on but then hit it again without noticing.
I'll be the first to admit, bars are pretty awesome. A place where you can drive your car to, get all fucked up, and then get back in your car to drive home. Gobs of city cash comes from DUI revenue and at 2:00 am on nearly any night, collecting it is like shooting a whale in a barrel.
I don't spend a lot of time in bars, so I reckon my problem with this list is that it could apply to anybody in a job that deals with the public. In high school I worked at The Great American Cookie Company at the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. People treated me like shit because they were in a hurry and they wanted to get coffee and then go to Atlanta. I can't remember ever once thinking that I was the cookie king and those people should get fucked. I just figured that they were asshole people in a hurry, trying to get to Atlanta. We were in Cleveland; I understood.
I have a lot of friends who are bartenders. It doesn't seem like it's a terrible job. There isn't a lot of heavy lifting. Most bartenders don't have to wear a uniform. Unless you have the curled mustache and the vest, but that vest seems nifty. If you're working in a bar which caters to your lifestyle, the music and customers are probably to your liking. It's better than telemarketing, I'd bet.
I follow the proper social rules when ordering drinks and I'm a standard $1 per drink tipper. Though if somebody were to ask me what the most consistently unpleasant experiences I've had with purchasing something were, I'd say that they were at bars with bartenders.
Someone once pointed out to me the fact that there seems to be a micro-economy in the service industry. Restaurant workers take their tip money out to bars and clubs at night and give it to the bartenders, who promptly return it to the waiters and waitresses the next day at lunch. The cycle is almost self-sufficient and is mutually beneficial. Knowing the pain of waiting on customers, each group tips the other well and never raises a fuss. These people do not need to be educated. The rest of you do.
Oh yes, this is a good introduction. What a non-abrasive way to begin your point. I need to be educated. DO TELL.
Many of us have stood in a noisy, crowded bar and asked, "What's a guy got to do to get a drink around here?" Well, you're about to find out. Here are some Do's and Don'ts that will keep the relationship between the bartender and bar patron running smoothly.
I'm pretty sure I've never done this, but I'll give you the BOTD. I've certainly thought this at coffee shops, but there is a designated place to order there. Sometimes when I stand at the plastic mat at a bar I get yelled at, sometimes not. Sometimes I can stand at the side of a bar and get service without having to wait in the long line. Whatever is easiest for you, Jack!
DON'TS Fail to have your money ready
We're waiting on you. Everyone else is waiting on us. Therefore, by the Transitive Property of Equality, everyone is waiting on you. Rule #1: Have your shit together. Not only will following Rule #1 get you served quicker in a bar, it's a good general rule to adopt in life and is especially helpful in Central American border crossing scenarios.
Okay, this is a good one. I'll memorize your prices and be sure to have this amount ready WHEN I order to make everything go really fast. Oh, you took another drink order after I ordered mine? No sweat, I can wait. Eeeks, you have to run to a refrigerator to get some limes? Maybe you should have your limes ready! Talkin' to your bro about who's bringing the PA to your next show instead of doing your job? It's your world, boss.
This is an absolute No-No. You whistle at dogs and pretty ladies, not people.
Dogs are not people. Pretty ladies are not people. This is a good rule, you're smart!
Oh, you've got a dollar!! I'll be right over!! Hopefully I won't break an ankle in my fevered rush to get you your "curz lite." Well, at least you're not breaking the next rule.
Who gives a flying fuck what I'm drinking? I don't really drink beer but is that a beer that I shouldn't drink? Jesus, elitist internet bartender.
Yell out the bartender's first name
There's something deeply psychologically disturbing about hearing your name called out, turning around and seeing a complete stranger. That's one of the reasons strippers use stage names. Bartender's do too. Mine is Pixie.
You know what's slightly more deeply psychologically disturbing? Going to a public place, walking up to a plank of wood to order something to drink, being greeted with a grunt and non-eye contact, getting what is ordered without a word and being expected to give extra money for grunting and non-eye contact while realizing that the transaction would have gone more smoothly if I had tits.
Say "make it strong!" or "put a lot of liquor in it"
Oh, you're one of the rare drinkers that like their drink strong! When you say this, you're assuming I make weak drinks (which is insulting) and you're assuming that I'll stiffen this one up for my new best buddy, you. This is the best way to get a weak drink.
I'll go ahead and agree with this one. I've been to bars where the ratio of booze to mixer has varied wildly from drink to drink, but you're not a scientist. I can relate.
Give the ever-expanding drink order
You want a Bud. I go get it. I come back and now you want a Margarita. Okay, no prob. I come back, and (oh yeah!) now you want a shot of Tequila, too. You really could have told us this all at once. See Rule #1.
Okay, now you're just being a baby. Can you imagine that maybe those are drinks for other people? That's just three orders in one. It's like going to the grocery store and getting three things at once instead of going to the grocery store three separate times.
Pull the redirect (or the bait 'n' switch)
Usually used after the money wave or the whistle, this is when the gentlemen passes his turn to the lady behind him. Yeah, um, don't do that, okay? Chances are she's not ready, and your weak attempt at chivalry just cost you your turn. See you in 30 minutes.
Try the confused, lost look
This is usually accompanied by the question "What kind of beer y'all got?" while looking at all the beers we have. You did know you were in a bar, right? You didn't just appear here, did you? Refer to Rule #1.
HOLY SHIT. I'm not allowed to ask what kind of beer you have? This is like going into a restaurant, opening a menu, and having a server yell, "WE HAVE FOOD HERE, SHUT THAT FUCKING MENU." Dude, I'm at a place buying some shit, mellow out.
Order High Maintenance shooters
Example: "Lemme get an Alabama Slammer, a Red Snapper, two Kamikazes, a Buttery Nipple and a Lemon Drop." Usually followed by a small tip. People, these shooters are fine by themselves, but there are multiple steps involved with each one. Translation: Time Sink. You may get them this time, but you'll probably be waited on last the next time we see your face. Here's a clue as to whether or not you're high maintenance; if two bartenders are working and they see you, and they flip a coin and the loser comes over to take your order, pretty good chance you're high maintenance.
My guess with this one is that you probably shouldn't work at that bar. In fact, if you have read this list in the past and have been glad that somebody wrote it, you need an entirely new job altogether. Oh wait, the job market is terrible and you have a job but you're complaining about somebody ordering things with a lot of ingredients. Don't do me like that, Tom Petty.
Assume we know you're in the band
We know, we know, you're gonna be really famous, but you're not there yet, tiger. Tell us you're in the band and which band you're in. By the way, if you are in a band and get free/reduced drink prices, feel free to tip, as most bartenders are also in bands! It's not like we don't know how it is. Oh, and our bands will smoke your band.
Who's in a band? You know who I want to meet? Somebody who isn't in a band.
Assume we know you period
Unless you've followed the first "Do" rule below, we don't remember you. You are one of a thousand faces for us, and when you point at an empty glass or a beer bottle that's invariably facing away from us, your attempt at a shortcut backfires. Tell us what you want.
Hm, I'm close to getting confused here about what is making things easiest for everybody. If you're working at a place where people are pointing at bottles with the label facing away from you and you're thinking about that all night long, oh man, you're totally bummed. I'm getting the feeling that you're just waiting for this to happen so you can get totally mad at it.
Apologize for sucking
Don't apologize for not tipping. Acknowledging that you suck is not the same as not sucking. Oh, and don't say "I'll get ya next time." We know all about you.
I'll go ahead and agree with this one too.
Assume soft drinks are free
Are they free at McDonald's? Are they free at Wal-Mart? Are they free anywhere? I blame M.A.D.D. for this myth.
I've never assumed that soft drinks are free at bars, but I don't think I've ever been charged for one. There's a restaurant called Avanti's in Peoria, IL that has free soft drinks on Wednesdays when you buy a pizza. So, there's that. Oh, and M.A.D.D. is such a horrible organization, with their dead children and all.
Put pennies and nickels in the tip jar
We don't want that crap in our pockets any more than you do. We don't have anything smaller than quarters. Have you ever ordered a drink that cost $3.17?
I used to get a Charleston Chew and a Dr. Pepper from 7-11 that totaled $3.17. They had a tip jar on the counter. You have a tip jar on the counter at your bar? TIP JAR!
Be "The Microbrew Aficionado"
Usually a pseudo-hippy who can't tip a quarter but can't bring himself to drink "schwag," and who has to sample some new berry-wheat-harvest-ale that he heard about at Burning Man. "Do you have the new Vernal-Equinox Special Welcome-Fest?" "Does Anyone?" Here's your Newcastle. Go.
Okay, beer anti-snob. If you're carrying those beers and they bum you out, you need to find another place to work. Why are you so mad? What happened? I'm not even asking in a condescending way, I want to know so I won't make you more mad. If you don't want me to order certain things, just let me know. I won't order those things. If I'm not allowed to know what you carry before I order, I won't ask. Just make a list of things that I should do and I'll do them. Better yet, get a fucking machine to dispense drinks so everything is better for everybody.
Be "The Daddy Warbucks"
Dressed in classic day-trader wear, this loud, boisterous guy smokes cigars and orders Martinis and generally exudes an air of money. Until the tip. We hate you.
I'll go ahead and agree with this because I'm a bit of a classist, but WHOA, that person is putting money into the place that you work. You should probably be more mad at the fact that my bar is Safeway and I don't even come into your grumble palace.
Tip heavy right off the bat, and you're the first person we aim for every time you come up to the bar. Did you get that? Go back and read it again. The word will spread to the other bartenders and you'll be treated like a prince. It will pay off in better drinks and the occasional free one.
Tip heavy! How heavy is heavy? I have to give you a bunch of free money so you'll serve me again? And you'll tell everybody working so they will too? And occasionally you'll give me a free drink. Oh man, you're a slave to the dollar. Gobble gobble, Pac-Man.
All you really need to do to get waited on is make eye contact. We see you, and we'll get to you before the guy right next to you waving money and whistling. Remember, this isn't insulin we're passing out here. If you really need the drink that bad, you've got a problem to address, Jack. The meek shall inherit the bar.
I thought I had to give you a bunch of money to get waited on? If I just go to the bar and stare at you, I'll get service? Uh, probably not. I find that it's best to have cash in my hand in sight. If I just stand there and stare at you, I'm going to look like a fucking maniac.
Be an attractive female
As in life, this goes far.
This is a really good list! Thanks for writing it!
If this comes across as a little petty, remember: bartenders are a jaded lot.