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9 Things a Bartender Would Never Be Caught Dead Doing in a Bar

by Melissa Allen Oct 25, 2018

Doctors may make the worst patients, but bartenders, hands down, make the best bar guests. We know how it feels to serve guests for nights on end, so we do our best to be considerate, understanding, easy-going, and tip properly. Here are nine things a bartender would never do at a bar.

1. Leave a phone number for the bartender.

Not because we’re not tempted, but bartenders tend to not date other bartenders. We like to run the show and that can be a hard dynamic in a relationship. But, if we are going to ask you out, we’ll just ask if you want to grab a drink after your shift. A casual, yet straightforward approach is always best.

2. Ask the bartender, “What’s your favorite drink to make?”

Or any similar inane question about the drink list. Bartenders understand how challenging it is to walk an indecisive patron through the beverage options, especially when other guests are waiting for service. It’s just a drink, you aren’t buying a house — just pick something.

3. Try to split the check for one round on four different credit cards.

In fact, most bartenders will fight their friends to pick up the round. We prefer to take turns buying drinks for our friends. It makes you feel generous to pick up the check, and it all evens out in the end. We also usually carry cash, so splitting checks is easier when everyone can just throw in a $20 and call it a day.

4. Tip less than 20 percent.

Call it gratuity karma. No matter how dreadful the service, it is nearly impossible for bartenders not to tip 20 percent. Partly because we know what it’s like to work in the trenches, but also because we just feel such guilt if we don’t. Nothing annoys non-bartender friends more than our over-tipping.

5. Sit at a dirty bar before the bartender has a chance to clear it.

By all means, hover behind those bar stools to stake your claim, but other bartenders know how frustrating it is when bar guests start moving dirty glasses and demanding service before you’ve had a chance to clean the bar from the previous guests. There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, give the people working the space to do their jobs. It’s a sign of respect.

6. Order a fruity cocktail, unless they’re at a tiki bar or trying to be funny.

The more you develop your alcohol palate, the more you want to taste the alcohol in a drink. Most bartenders favor spirit-heavy cocktails, such as Manhattans and Negronis, or simple classics like margaritas and daiquiris. The one exception is the tiki bar. Bartenders love a fruity, tiki cocktail and no one can resist a colorful cocktail umbrella.

7. Ask for a chaser.

One of the first things you learn to do as a bartender is how to take a shot. It’s not that a pickleback isn’t delicious, but it’s a badge of honor to handle a mezcal shot straight.

8. Take up unnecessary bar space.

Using bar stools for coats and bags. Sitting at such an angle that you take up twice as much space as you need to. Some guests just seem generally clueless when it comes to bar etiquette. You can always count on bartenders to be self-aware when they’re bar patrons. They shift to accommodate others, they don’t loiter on busy nights, and they’re generally conscientious.

9. Carry on extended phone conversations at the bar.

If we have an important call to take, we step outside. That way, we have some privacy, and the rest of the bar has some peace.

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