The very word pisses us off. It’s partly from an economic standpoint — it takes the same amount of time and effort to muddle up a $4 virgin mojito as a $12 regular mojito, which means a third of the money landing in our pocket for the same work. But it’s also a matter of principle. A cocktail is about the alcohol. When you say mocktail, what you are really asking for is a fancy soda.
Invite us out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but please do not invite a professional bartender to brunch. Most of us have PTSD from Bloody Mary-filled shifts of our own. It’s hard for us to relax when surrounded by mimosas and eggs benedicts.
3. Rookie cocktail orders
There are the obvious choices — Long Island iced teas, Amaretto sours, Appletinis — the sweet, strong drinks that mean “I just turned 21, I don’t have the palate for alcohol, but I still want to get wasted.” Then there are the over-ordered drinks: old-fashioneds, Aperol spritzes, and rosé by the gallon. Drinks that are perfectly respectable, but represent a lack of imagination.
4. Amaro selection
When we are at a bar and we ask for a Fernet, Cynar, or Ramazzotti and the only option is Fireball, expect us to turn up our noses.
Martini drinkers tend to know how they like their martinis. They can seem overly specific about it to non-Martini drinkers, but, as bartenders, we appreciate someone who knows exactly what they want. There’s nothing worse than guests who have no clue how they like their drink. You can’t just order a Martini. We need to know: Vodka or gin? Up or on the rocks? olive or twist? Let us know if you prefer your Martini shaken or stirred, wet or dry, with or without a Vermouth rinse and we’ll love you forever.
6. Wine and liquor trends
Bartenders tend to know about wine and liquor trends before everyone else. Think you are cool for ordering a whiskey? We’ve already moved on to aged rum. Want tequila shots? We shoot mescal. Sometimes we can be judgey when we are out and about and the drink list feels outdated. But just hold on to that bottle of Grey Goose — everything comes back around eventually!
7. Shitty service
Are we always going to tip at least 20% no matter how awful the service? Yes. Unless you spit in my drink in front of me, in which case, I’ll still leave 15%. It’s called tipping karma and we are a superstitious lot. But bartenders, in general, are easy customers — we’re knowledgeable, understanding, undemanding- — so if you piss us off by ignoring our table, never refilling our water glasses, or being unnecessarily rude, we will definitely never be back.
8. When our friends pick the bar or restaurant.
When bartenders go out for dinner or drinks, it is usually for one of two reasons. First, professional development — we want to try out new spots or well-loved institutions, so we can further our own knowledge of the industry. Second, we want to chill with our friends at our neighborhood haunt. Anything in between and we’d rather just have invited friends over and ordered a pizza.
9. Waiting in line for a bar or club.
When your workday is spent in a crowded bar, the last place you want to be on your day off is a crowded bar. And on those times when our friends talk us into going out, if there is a line at the door and a cover charge, we make a beeline to the dive bar across the street. Cheap beer and pool tables are much more our element than trendy clubs.