1. We short pour your drink unless you ask us to “make it strong.”
Your drink contains the standard amount of alcohol that is specific for the bar where you chose to order your drink. This amount is not up to your bartender but up to the owner of the bar and/or liquor laws that can vary from state to state. If you want a stronger drink, order a double. Asking for a “strong” drink is essentially asking for something for free.
2. We remember every single customer’s name.
This is far from true. We see many different faces and meet new people every time we work. Often, we’ll remember what your usual drink order is but we’re not sure if you’re named Matt, Jim, or Don. Sometimes it takes a while for “Jack & Coke guy” to become “Steve” when we see you walk through the door.
3. We all have been to bartending school.
I have 15 years of bartending experience under my belt and I have not once worked with someone who went to bartending school. Don’t waste your money; if you want to get into the field, apply somewhere that promotes their barbacks so you can get training for free and earn money while you learn the ropes. Experience behind a bar is always more desirable than a bartending school certificate.
4. We are being uptight a**holes when we cut you off.
We don’t want to have to say no to your money but when we decide you’ve had enough, it’s safe to say that you have definitely reached your limit. Nobody wants to clean up your puke or be held responsible when you are involved in an accident while inebriated. At the end of the day, we have your best interests in mind, so please don’t make a scene when we cut you off. Being dramatic only makes YOU look bad. Leave peacefully and come back for a hair-of-the-dog beverage in the morning!
5. We give great relationship advice.
We are all human beings and are just as lost as everyone else in this department. Also, we are always going to tell you what we think you want to hear because you are tipping us — especially if you are asking us for advice after your 4th glass of wine, with tears streaming down your face.
6. We like you.
While we don’t hate everyone sitting at our bar, chances are that we aren’t as excited as we are pretending to be when you walk in the door. Inquiring about your dog/baby/partner/new job is part of our game. Sometimes we truly are interested in your life, but the bottom line is that we ask you questions to keep you drinking and tipping. We have our own social life outside of the bar and we like to keep it separate from work. Don’t be offended when we aren’t accepting applications for new friends.
7. Our life is a non-stop, alcohol-fueled party.
When you spend 3-5 days a week working in a bar, hanging out in one on your days off is not your go-to social activity. I find myself saving such occasions for when a band I want to see is performing or when there’s a special celebration. Plus, hangovers are the worst when you are behind the bar — having to put on a happy front while trying not to let the smell of the alcohol you are pouring make you vomit.
8. Our job is easy and glamorous.
Yes, we are pretty much celebrities to our adoring audience of customers when we dispense liquid cheer from behind the bar. But, as soon as the night has come to an end and the lights are turned on, our gleaming mansion of a bar suddenly becomes a sticky, stained-up, trash-covered shack. Guess who is responsible for cleaning up the mess?
9. We know how to make every drink that ever existed.
No, we don’t. New recipes are constantly being created and some recipes are region-specific or seasonal, so don’t be surprised if your bartender in Minneapolis doesn’t know what was in the passion fruit margarita you had in Cabo. If you’re looking for something creative ask for the specialty cocktail menu. If they don’t have a special menu, happily order a simple cocktail and keep your mouth shut regarding anything passion fruit.
10. We are all brainless losers who can’t find a “real job.”
The major perks of bartending are the quick cash and the flexible schedule. Many of us choose this career because it allows us to travel, go to school, create art or music; others simply enjoy living their lives outside of the 9-5 rat race. We are an interesting breed of eclectically-talented individuals and you will find many college degrees among our ranks. For some of us, this job is a pit stop along the path, and for others, it’s a life-long career — in either case, don’t assume we are uneducated…that’s just ignorant of you.
11. We have a favorite drink to make.
A bottle of whiskey feels the same as a bottle vodka. Certain time-consuming drinks can become loathsome when the bar is filled with people waiting (think mojito or old fashioned), but if we aren’t in the weeds, we’ll happily bust out the muddler. Beware of bartender retaliation when we respond to your inane question with something that we are sure you’ll dislike — a shot of warm gin, for example.