13+ Things Your Bartender Won’t Tell You

Bartenders share their secrets, tips and best etiquette advice.

from Reader's Digest
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    1. 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. Know what you want and have your money ready. Don't create a traffic jam.

    2. 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.

    3. You want a drink made 'strong?' Then order a double-for double the price.

    4. Liquor sales in bars and restaurants were down 2.2 percent last year. Even beer sales are slow. But people scrimp on food first, drinks second.

    5. A lot of bars have comp tabs, which allows me to give away drinks. It's smart business and helps build a base of regulars.

    6. 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.

    7. If your tipping guideline is still 'a buck a drink,' listen closely: That doesn't fly if you order a $12 cocktail. Tip at least 15 percent.

    8. At some bars, the sliced fruit garnishes sit out until they’re gone, sometimes for days. Munch accordingly.

    9. The smoothest guys compliment a woman, then walk away-it's very nonthreatening.

    10. I have the police on speed dial, and I never hesitate to call.

    11. Don't order a round of drinks after last call. Last call applies to everyone-even you.

    12. 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.

    13. 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!

If I cut you off, don’t argue.
 If anything, you should apologize if you’ve made a scene. 

Get a room.
 The more you make out with your date, the closer you are to being cut off. 

I've heard it all. 
One guy told me I had the worst smile he‘d ever seen. I found out that he thinks a girl won‘t remember him unless he puts her down. I guess it worked; I‘m telling you this story three weeks later.

Think tending bar isn’t a real career?
 You’re wrong. The craft of bartending is coming back, and some of us are even called “mixologists” now. 

 I love sharing what I know.
 If it’s not busy, ask me about the history of drink or the latest cocktail I’ve invented. You’ll learn something new. 

 I like a sophisticated palate.
You’ll win points with me if you request gin in your martini. 

 My knees hurt.
 Bar mats prevent slipping, but I really like them for the cushioning. I use sole inserts in my shoes, too. 

 I can tell if your date is going well or not.
 And I notice if you bring in a new date every week. 

 Everyone should bartend a few nights in his life.
You learn so much about people. 

 I'm not a piece of meat.
 If you’re going to hit on me all night, at least leave a big tip. 

 It happens every time.
 The songs you line up on the jukebox will play right as you’re leaving. 

 I do more than mix drinks.
 I love being your psychiatrist-matchmaker-entertainer-friend. Otherwise, I wouldn’t tend bar. 

 Please, take a cab.


    Sources: David Craver, president, National Bartenders Association, and anonymous bartenders in Boston, Kentucky, Florida, California, and Illinois. Interviews by Bridget Nelson Monroe.


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    Your Comments

    • Rochelle Comissiong

      These are always funny to me. I wish I could have it perfect at work too, but it’s not a perfect world. I have seen rude customers AND I have definitely seen some slow, rude bartenders. And I’m sorry, if you are over-charging me $48 for a vodka/pineapple, a non-micro brewery & a water on South Beach (I do realize the bartender does not set price… I was a bartender for a few years) … you are NOT getting a $7.20 tip

    • guest

      To all of the people on here bashing bartenders, saying it’s their job to serve you, you are correct. But they don’t have to put up with the a-hole customers. If you are being a jerk right off the bat. They sure as hell don’t want to see how big of a jerk you become once you’ve had a few. Bartenders don’t ask to be treated like royalty just with come common courtesy. That is what everyone wants at there job. I wouldn’t come you your place of business and treat you like a second class citizen no matter what you do. I don’t care if you dig ditches or work on Wall Street. Treat people with respect and you will get it in return.

    • Ana

      I have been a waitress in the UK for years and if there’s one thing I can’t stand is other hospitality workers to EXPECT A TIP. IT IS NOT THE COSTUMER’S JOB TO PAY FOR YOUR WAGES….IT’S YOUR BOSSE’S. If a costumer is paying $15 dollars for a drink and we have to pay 15% on top? WHAT A JOKE! AGAIN it’s the EMPLOYERS responsibility to pay the staff NOT the costumers who do that already indirectly ! F*ck tipping as an obligation! i like to be tipped on the good work I do!

    • Allan Howard

      If I’m giving you a buck a drink and you don’t like it give it back. I don’t care if the drink is 15 dollars a glass, a dollar a drink is quite good, especially if I’m drinking all night.

    • Patron

      13+ signs your bartender takes him or herself too seriously. #1…

    • 007

      Just shut up and make my drink

    • majormannfred .

      I use to bartend..believe me hot chicks with great bodies got my attention.

    • BeerDrinker

      Rubbish!! Ordering a super-premium spirit with a super-premium mixer takes no more time than the well junk. I always tip well but I’m am not tripling the tip because I asked them to reach twelve inches higher to grab a bottle.

    • Kris Noel

      slideshow isnt working. only thing the bartender needs to know-I have the money and can go to 100 other bars and spend it. I control your tip.

    • Chas

      I always “munch” the celery in a bloody mary.