Most people aren’t intentionally difficult — they’re simply unaware. And never is it more noticeable than at a bar, where a few drinks prevents anyone from thinking clearly. From never ordering a mojito in a busy bar to knowing that last call means the last call, here are six things bartenders always have to explain to civilians, even when we don’t want to.
1. Never order a mojito.
Unless you’re at a mojito bar or in Cuba. Mojitos take twice as long to make as an average cocktail, with the extra muddling and time it takes to carefully clean mint out of our shakers. Plus, they look delicious, so as soon as one person orders one, the whole bar suddenly wants Mojitos as well. If it’s a slow night, it’s not a problem, but if the bar is slammed, drinks like Mojitos slow down service. It might not seem like your problem as a customer, but it is one of the reasons it takes so long to get your drink on a Saturday night.
2. Keep your hands out of our garnish station.
And while you’re at it, don’t absentmindedly fondle straws meant for other guests. This seems so obvious from the perspective of both hygiene and common decency, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. Every bar should have a dart board and Jenga to distract the drinkers from mild acts of vandalism.
3. Give your bartender a two-minute grace period.
Shitty bartenders do exist, as do inattentive servers and condescending maitre d’s, but for the most part, service professionals are doing the best they can. When you walk into a bar and see that the bartender is busy, give them a minute or two to make their way over to you. They aren’t ignoring you, they’re usually doing five things at a time. Don’t reach behind the bar and grab what you think is a menu. Don’t shove dirty glasses out of the way before we’ve had a chance to clean. Don’t demand water from across the bar (unless it’s an emergency). Within two minutes, we will acknowledge and serve you. If we don’t, then speak up. But the quickest way to piss off a bartender is not giving them the time to do their job.
4. Ask for guidance, don’t ask for a mind reader.
Bartenders are happy to make you something off menu, but we need some parameters. If you want “bartender’s choice,” give us a spirit or a flavor profile to work from. Most bartenders love talking about booze and are excited to introduce curious clientele to new spirits. But it makes it much easier for us if we have a sense of what you’re looking for.
5. “Last call” really means “get out.”
Not immediately, but do drink with haste. Especially if the lights go up and the music goes down. This applies more for restaurants and cocktail bars that don’t have bouncers rounding up the stragglers. We will ask you to leave if we have to, but we’d prefer if you take the hint.
6. Bartending is a real job.
Bartending is a real career, with a specific skill set and a learning curve. Like most careers, there are different levels. A catering bartender is equivalent to little leagues and working an Irish pub. Managing a bar in a highly curated cocktail bar belongs to the major leagues. While much of the stigma of working in the service industry professionally has lifted, there are still moments when you have to assert the value of this profession.
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