Tabs

This is New York City.  Even if it weren't, you're patronizing someone else's establishment.  What does that mean?  You need to be mindful of the house rules fool!  Rules can be written but most or not.  In other words, follow instruction.  If your bartender asks you if you'd like to start a tab, that means he/she needs a credit card to keep the alcohol or even just food and non-alcoholic drinks flowing.  


You may be "old" and feel insulted.  You may say to yourself "ugh! What an ass! How rude! He doesn't trust me? This is a restaurant dammit [in a restaurant bar case]" or whatever.  The bottom line is that in most establishments, if a customer doesn't pay for their bill, the bartender or waiter does!  How do you think that might work out if you or just a single one of the dozens/hundreds of customers this employee is serving a night walk out intentionally or get a tipsy and just "forget" to pay?  What if that service industry employee is counting on just a couple of hundred dollar night to pay rent and that gets wiped out by one person's neglect, inebriation or malice?  Hmm….


It's not an insult.  It's just standard practice at most bars in NYC and other busy hubs.  Don't be a prick.  Give up the plastic or pay cash.  You can always pay cash when you're ready to leave and get your card back.  No, 99.999% of the time, your bartender is not out to screw you with swiping your card info nor is he/she going to lose your card.  It happens but it's extremely rare – like  a plane crash on your way to Disney.  Can you imagine at a busy, busy bar where a bartender has 10, 15 or even 20 checks open simultaneously?  It would be nearly impossible to keep track of everyone without.  


In the day when it may be less busy depending on which bar you frequent, where people may be eating more and drinking less booze, it's easier for your barman to keep on top of folks and ensure everyone is served, having a good time and paying their tabs.  In this case, you may not even be asked for plastic.  Again, don't be insulted if this is not the case come nightfall for reasons stated above.


Various bars have a system of keeping track of open tabs.  That may be a check placed in front of where your party sits, memory if not overwhelming, etc.  I've seen the occasional customer highly insulted for being "presented" a check when he/she wasn't asking for one.  Chill man.  It''s just a way for the barman to keep track of who's check belongs to whom.  That's all.  


On to the customer side of things… You want to try to establish a relationship with one bartender if possible.  Try to order from the same person.  That doesn't mean insulting the next one that may see your drink nearly empty and being mean.  The relationship means building trust and being cool and mostly, making sure the bartender knows you'll be tipping and tipping big.  That does not mean telling him/her that you work at Restaurant Chez George or Dempsey's Bar and Grill.  It means not being an insulting demanding toolish person complaining nastily about everything from the fans being on, to the candle's making you sick, to not being able to taste the alcohol in your drink, to generally having a nasty attitude.  


Bartenders (and waiters/waitresses) deal with some really scummy situations and are shat upon regularly.  You can easily score brownie points and subsequent free drinks, digits, dates, valuable information, saved seats, free food, tickets, whatever if you establish yourself as the nice guy/girl who tips big and makes their visit an event to look forward to for the service employee.  That said, in a new bar, pay cash and pay up front. Have the cash on the bar before the drinks and food are ever laid in front of you.  Tip immediately and go about your business without hassling the barman.  Push the cash towards the trough so that your intentions are unmistakably clear. Do not hand people cash or insist they take it.  Let them do their thing in their own time. Again, chill and make the bartender aware through your actions that you will be the exception to the annoying, demanding, problematic cheap-ass drunk.  If you follow these guidelines regularly, I assure you that you will be the beneficiary in short order.  Furthermore, you will wind up spending much less money in the long run.


If you do have a tab, with or without a credit card, when it comes time to pay, here is your opportunity to make sure you are the beneficiary of everything I spoke of above.  In addition, you have an opportunity again to be shining star of a standout customer that the bartender wants to see again.  If your bill is $20, you don't want to to tip $3 and call a day.  No one will remember you.  Give up $10 or more.  If your bill is $100 I have news for you %20 is not memorable.  Tipping $30, $40, $50 or more will get you a big fat smile and most likely free drinks when you return I assure you.  Near-term investment, long-term savings and benefits.  You make the call.

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