Bartenders share their secrets, tips and best etiquette advice.
Know what you want.
And have your money ready. Yell, whistle, or wave money and I’m going to make you wait. Make eye contact and smile, and I’ll come over as soon as I can. Don’t create a traffic jam.
Start a tab.
If I swipe your card five times this evening, that’s five times as much paperwork I have to do at 4 a.m.
You want a drink made strong?
Then order a double—for double the price.
Even beer sales are slow.
Liquor sales in bars and restaurants were down 2.2 percent last year. But people scrimp on food first, drinks second.
A lot of bars have comp tabs.
This allows me to give away drinks. It’s smart business and helps build a base of regulars.
You get what you pay for.
Bars that don’t have regulars (in hotels, airports) have started using wireless gadgets that measure how much is poured and automatically ring up each shot. They’re meant to prevent overpouring and to cut losses, but I don’t like them—neither do customers.
Tip at least 15 percent.
If your tipping guideline is still “a buck a drink,” listen closely: That doesn’t fly if you order a $12 cocktail.
Nibble at your own risk.
At some bars, the sliced fruit garnishes sit out until they’re gone, sometimes for days. Munch accordingly.
Play it cool.
The smoothest guys compliment a woman, then walk away. It’s very nonthreatening.
I have the police on speed dial.
And I never hesitate to call.
Don't order a round of drinks after last call.
Last call applies to everyone—even you.
We'll call you a cab.
Some of us get a cut from the cab company when we call a taxi for a tipsy patron.” ] Not that I’ve ever done that, of course.
We're bartenders, not referees.
Last week, a couple had a little too much and got into a dumb argument, then asked me to choose the “winner” of the fight. There isn’t a tip big enough to get me involved in that situation!
Sources: David Craver, president, National Bartenders Association, and anonymous bartenders in Boston, Kentucky, Florida, California, and Illinois. Interviews by Bridget Nelson Monroe