You May Serve Our Drinks, But You Ain't God: Ten Etiquette Tips for Bartenders

Categories: Bar Beat

1897_Saloon_Blackhawk.jpg
Photo from the U.S. National Archives
Tip #1: Dress like a dapper gentleman.
Last week, I gave you a list of 10 etiquette tips for patrons of a bar.

This week, in fairness, I'm turning the tables.

Sure, there are some really annoying customers out there, but sometimes bartenders need a little reminder about how to behave as well. Yes, you work hard for your money (I know -- I've bartended before), but so do we, and unless we're drinking with Gordon Ramsay, we expect to be treated fairly. Some bartenders just don't get it, and perhaps those select few are in the wrong industry. It's time to shape up or ship out.

And because I know many of you will get your panties in a bind about the thankless job of bartending, feel free to give me a piece of your mind in the comments. Just don't give me a piece of lime that's been sitting out all day. Thanks.

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Photo by Ben Lucier.
10. Don't openly judge the drink I just ordered.
Some nights I just want a vodka and club soda. I know, I know, vodka is largely reviled in the bartending industry. You think it's flavorless and therefore useless. I get that. It's not great. But every now and then, I want something simple and low-cal that tastes like I'm drinking booze. I want it to burn on the way down, and I want to feel shitty the next morning. So don't make a face when I order a vodka and club soda or a michelada or something from the well. Don't tell me that what I ordered is nasty or not high quality. Just make it for me and accept my generous tip for stooping so low.

9. Don't make a scene of giving free drinks to friends
When I was bartending, I loved to have friends come see me on slow nights. It can be fun to show off for them or just have someone to chat with to kill time. But if there are other people at the bar within earshot, don't loudly proclaim that your friend is getting her drinks on the house. No one wants to feel that someone else is getting preferential treatment. It's totally fine to give a buddy a drink, but do it with subtlety. Same goes for that hot customer who you've been flirting with all night. If you want to buy him a drink, then by all means, do so! There's just no need to be showy about it.

8. Clean the freaking bar
I know you're busy. I know that it's more important to keep the wait short than to immediately wash every dirty glass that comes back to the bar. But for God's sake, don't let the used glasses, cocktail napkins, straws and squeezed lime carcasses pile up where customers can see them. Dirty dishes need to be cleared as soon as possible. They don't need to be washed the second they're returned (unless you're running out of glasses, duh), but they should never be allowed to sit on tables or on the bar. If you can't keep up with the used glasses, maybe it's time to hire a barback.


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23 comments
hsteele
hsteele

I paid for two college degrees bartending and ended up owning a restaurant as a fun side biz.   I absolutely do not understand any attitude at the bar.   Regulars pay the rent.   Your job is to get more regulars.  I think this article is spot on.  Well done.

_sid.
_sid.

Charge my cell phone!!

* and dont assume that everyone I know is on my tab, ask me.

And just kidding about the cell phone, but a "XXXX liquor company charging station" seems to be a good promotion idea.

Viula Tremblay Torgerson
Viula Tremblay Torgerson

Oh please #5 so many times. I have had this experience too many times recently and it leaves a worst taste in my mouth than even #s 2-3. It's not even a bartender rule. It's common courtesy,

beaudog
beaudog

I work/worked at one of those places and I agree with these. Sometimes I've been guilty of being selective, but largely it's refusing to make an order of 10 shots in a classy bar. Not because I can't (I can) or don't want to directly, but rather, because the juices are hand-squeezed (and have a relatively steep up charge), and the shots will end up costing $12 per (where other bars I work at would charge $7). Not to mention, we don't keep many of the liqueurs to make said shots.

It's not that I want to be snooty, it's that we don't keep cheap shit, and you're gonna end up ordering a $14 Washington apple, and you're gonna hate my guts when I'm just charging a fair price with margin in mind.

Purpose83
Purpose83

You were wayyyyy harsher on the patrons of bars than you were on the bartenders. Here is one of my pet peeves: I order a drink and when you make it and bring it to me you don't tell me the price and just stand there.

Is that a rule or something, that I should know the price of my drink automatically, every place I go?

gailmindy
gailmindy

A smile goes down well with any drink. Surly and bartender don't make for a happy customer.

Sabrina Sutherland
Sabrina Sutherland

I love the number one tip, I fucking cringe when I see a " bartender " shaking a manhattan . I wanna say hey do you make your cosmos with just vodka and cranberry cause they probably do

wordlover
wordlover

Another one, if you're a guy bartender and you're hot, or think you're hot, keep it to yourself, we  don't care.  Really.

Katie Ertel
Katie Ertel

I was a bartender for a while, seemed pretty basic stuff to me. Except that any job has a learning curve!

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

a Boody Mary. Oh yeah, I want one. I'll take a Booty Mary too, if it comes to it.

Kelley Dellafave
Kelley Dellafave

Considering the scene here, I don't doubt that this will. Trash can lids make great shields. lol

bouche
bouche

sorry, but speaking as an industry professional with nearly 20 years of experience, vodka is not "reviled' by bartenders. you make that uninformed assumption because the punk who started the mixology craze in this town doesn't stock or serve vodka in his dump.

Nate
Nate

"3. Have a good attitude"  This.  A thousand times this.

barleyvine
barleyvine

Just a note that bar does serve Vodka, just not 14 diferent fruit infused varieties.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@bouche I used to be an alcohol writer, and every bartender who I interviewed (which I did on a bi-weekly basis) had something nasty to say about vodka. No, not EVERY bartender agrees with that, but not every bartender likes wine either. It's just an example.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@bouche That bar and owner never called it mixology.

beaudog
beaudog

You seriously have no idea what you're talking about.

beaudog
beaudog

You didn't, you're right. But "that punk" introduced something that Houston was behind the curve on to begin with, and if you want vodka, then take ten steps in any direction and go to a bar where vodka is served. Problem solved.

PS: THAT bar and many of their derivatives have vodka. They might have only one bottle, but it's a solid brand.

-a bartender at one of those places

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