Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

6 Ways Customers Gravely Insult Bartenders

by Melissa Allen Sep 11, 2019

Just because bartenders are here to help you have a great, relaxing time, it doesn’t mean you can make them jump through hoops and show them a lack of respect. Just like with any other job in the service industry, bartenders are happy to help, but they have their thresholds, and you should be careful not to cross them — or you’ll never get a decent cocktail out of them again.

1. Question our bar knowledge

Do bartenders make mistakes? Of course. Do bartenders know everything about cocktails, wine, beer, and spirits? Of course not. But the quickest way for a customer to offend a bartender is to question the bartender’s knowledge. If you order a cocktail we’ve never heard of, most bartenders will let you know and look up the recipe. Just don’t try to belittle the bartender just to show how smart you are.

2. Interrupt us with your drink order

If you need to signal for the check or another round, that’s fine. But if we have already greeted you and you can see we are busy making drinks, wait until we come over to order. We’re not ignoring you, we’re trying to do our job with a little bit of focus. Every time we’re interrupted, it throws us off just a little and slows down the whole process.

3. Tip a dollar a drink

Tipping one dollar per drink was customary 20 years ago, but times and rent prices have changed. A dollar a beer at a bar — fine. A dollar a drink at a custom cocktail bar with table service — not okay. When in doubt, 20 percent always works. It seems like a lot when cocktails cost $16 a pop, but you tip your barista a dollar for your daily drip, why not $2 for that mezcal sour with egg whites?

4. Second-guess us

If you have a request for something off-menu or want us to modify a drink order, by all means, ask. But if we say that we can’t, accept that. We want you to have what you want, but if we refuse a request, there is a reason behind it — we’re not just being petty.

5. Ask us personal questions

Bartending is our job, not our social life. We are not obligated to share our personal lives with customers unless we chose to. Even if you mean no harm, don’t be surprised if your bartender seems evasive when answering personal questions.

6. Mock the ambiance

If the lights are too low or the music is too loud, there is a polite way to request we modify the experience. And there is the rude way: “Are these lights always so bright?” and “Could this music be any louder?” If the lights or music aren’t at an ideal level, it may be because your bartender has been so busy making drinks and serving guests, they didn’t have time to notice. Just ask nicely.

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