Captain’s Take: Bar Etiquette 101

Captain’s Take: Bar Etiquette 101

Writer: Brett Porter

Have you watched our podcasts? Have you talked to me for more than five minutes? If you answered no to both of those, this may be your first time hearing that I’m a bartender. As a member of the service industry, I think I speak for the whole group when I say some people don’t practice proper manners when in a bar or restaurant. Today, I am going to highlight certain behaviors in the bar setting that tick me off. HOWEVER, I will also provide better alternatives for each instance.

I’m not saying there isn’t bad bartenders, because there definitely is. Hell, I still have sympathy to anyone who came to Peter’s Pub when I started getting my own shifts. What I will say though, is that way more people could use this lesson than one might think.

These are the things I personally find irritating. We all have things that personally bother us that may not bother someone else. It’s totally fine if you don’t like my list. Life would be boring if we all shared the same values. If anything, treat this as another bite-sized way of getting to know me. Since that’s out of the way, let’s get started.

DON’T: Wave Your Money to Get the Bartender’s Attention.
DO: Wait Your Turn With Your Payment Method Ready
Contrary to popular belief, waving cash while waiting for a drink doesn’t bump you to the front of the line. Especially on busy nights, you should assume you’re gonna have to wait for your next drink. In the meantime, be patient, have your cash or card ready, and wait your turn.

DON’T: Ask For Drinks After Last Call
DO: Respect the Fact the Bar is Closing
At the end of the day, bartending is a job. Although hours aren’t set in stone, we generally like cleaning and closing up as fast as possible. We want to go home too, and you staring at me and begging for one more drink doesn’t get me any closer to that.

DON’T: Hit on the Bartender
DO: Respect Personal and Professional Boundaries
I’m fortunate enough to be writing this as a man. I couldn’t begin to imagine how many strange creatures shoot their shot with female bartenders. It’s only happened to me a couple of times, but dude, don’t make me feel like a piece of meat. I’m here to work. You’re here to drink. Let’s keep it that way.

DON’T: Threaten Us With Bad Tips
DO: Tip When You Get Good Service
Me personally, I tip above average because I get how grueling of a job it is. I think it’s fair to tip accordingly when you didn’t get good service. I draw the line when customers threaten to tip me less when I don’t placate whatever thing it is bothering them. Tips are a huge part of our world and I’ll never dismiss that. What keeps the lights on, and therefore creates opportunities to get tipped, is people spending money. You gotta be grateful in this industry because no money is ever guaranteed. As a customer though, find a more professional way to address unfavorable service. You don’t need to make it a public affair.

DON’T: Play Music the Bartender Hates
DO: Play Better Music
This last one’s personal if you didn’t gather. I feel myself being dragged through the layers of Hell when people play a handful of songs. Some of them I hate outright. Some of them I get sick of hearing ten times a night. I could go the rest of my life without ever hearing Crazy Bitch, Here I Go Again, or any Jelly Roll song ever again and it would still be too soon. Mix it up every now and then, at least for my sanity’s sake.

If you learned something from this, then I did what I wanted to do. Sometimes people don’t know what they’re doing is irritating. Sometimes they just don’t care. It’s a grab bag. At the end of the day, bartenders are still human, so a little decency goes a long way in getting on our good side.

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