An anonymous bartender spills… 10 tips to get better service

Pointers for endearing yourself to your barman and getting your drinks refilled with stunning regularity.
By Anonymous

Cute dudes and cocktails go hand in hand, so we were thrilled when a hot bartender agreed to guest star in a post. It turns out, we can be just as annoying to a publican as your male drunken louts, what with our indecision/occasional reliance on our patented Sexy Bar Lean to get service (hint: tips work much better).

Below, check out our Anonymous Bartender’s 10 pointers for endearing yourself to your barman and getting your drinks refilled with stunning regularity.

1) Tip

Bartending can be fun, sure, but we don’t do it for fun. We don’t have a salary, a 401(k), or a generous freelance hourly rate. We don’t get benefits, bonuses or expense accounts. What we have is our hands, our wits and you. We rely on your tips for a living, and you rely on us for … relief. Bartending is a unique, symbiotic relationship. It’s group therapy, without all the self-loathing. So tip, and tip well. If you’re at an event with an open or cash bar, don’t wait until the end — tip $20 on your first drink, and I guarantee the guy on the other side will remember your name and have your drink of choice waiting when you approach, no matter how crowded it gets. A happy bartender will have your next drink before you even ask and will bump you up past the line. He will make you look good.

2) Be cool

Bartenders notice the little things, even when we’re three deep. It’s easy to be nice to the bartender when the place is dead, but when it’s crowded and the music is loud and people are loose, you’re not as anonymous as you think. Be polite. Buy your friends a drink. Buy the old-timer at the end of the bar a drink. Be generous. You’re out to have a good time, not to pinch your pennies. Show some class, even if those around you don’t.

3) Be specific

Don’t complain after you get your drink about something that you could have told me before I poured it. If you’re anal about how much ice is in your drink, say something BEFORE I make it, not after. We’re not mind readers. If you don’t like the pour, get a double next time — or switch bars.

4) Be patient

Don’t ask for a buyback. If you’re a good customer and it’s a good bar, you will eventually get a buy back. If you have to ask for a buy back, you ain’t gettin’ one.

5) Be realistic

Of course I like shooting the breeze with patrons, male and female. But with obvious exceptions, your bartender is not flirting with you and your girlfriends because he wants to make personalized love to each one of you. He’s flirting with you because he wants your money. Know this. If you’re that interested (and he just might be too …) give him your number and leave it at that. Flirting excessively in such a way that keeps him from getting his work done will annoy him, whether he’s interested or not.

6) Be decisive

Don’t ever ask a bartender to “surprise you.” You’re wasting your time. You want what you want, not what we want.

7) Be social

If you’re sitting at the bar and we’re not slammed, by all means, be friendly. Talk to us. Ask us how our night is going. Bartenders spend countless hours listening to other people’s troubles. They’ll love you for not being so self-absorbed. You’ll get a free drink out of it, maybe two. Trust me.

8) Don’t try too hard

Be careful trying to impress crowds / your bartender — ordering expensive Scotch neat, doing Jager Bombs as a nightcap or yammering about craft beer. Sure, bar owners love when you order a bunch of expensive drinks, but if you really don’t know what you’re talking about or it’s past 2 a.m., all your bartender thinks is that you’re probably faced and being kind of obnoxious. Plus, if you ARE extra-drunk, you’re just wasting your own money.

9) Learn your drink

“Straight” doesn’t mean anything. “Up” and “Neat” do. I can’t make a Long Island strong because it can’t get any stronger. Don’t ask for a martini “extra, extra, extra, dry.” Just say “no vermouth.” In fact, don’t even ask for a martini. Ask for a gin, up, with an olive. Or a twist. Be specific.

10) Be loud and clear

Bars are loud. If it’s really crowded, make eye contact, indicate in some way that you are waiting for a drink and not just leaning on the bar. Some bartenders don’t like cash getting flashed, some do — err on the side of caution and be direct.

In the end, it’s your night. Make it worth something, and accept that a lot of it is just part of the ritual — the sacred ritual of unwinding after a long week, or a tough day. We understand, really we do.

For a humorous take on bar etiquette, check out Bar etiquette: the ultimate guide to ordering drinks.