Thinks Never To Say to a Bartender

Where to begin?  As a customer, your goal is to enjoy your outing at the local watering hole right? You’d like to be treated well, laugh, drink, eat maybe, and maybe be remembered as a good guy/gal upon your next visit aye?  With that in mind, let’s take a look at things say that will piss off your bartender and figure out how to avoid them to ensure you’re not mistreated by an enraged server.

  • I’m just waiting for someone…” as you proceed to occupy your stool, the adjoining stool for yet to arrive pseudo-date while you ask for water and the bar is 2 people deep. Your bartender does not give a crap that you’re waiting for Mr/Mrs XYZ or whomever.  There is zero need to throw this out there – ever.  It’s useless information.  Your server just cares that you order something and don’t take up valuable space.  
  • You should smile more” A-hole! You know what you just caused?  You just caused me not not smile until you’re gone.  Never, ever say this to anyone let alone a bartender.  It’s just plain stupid and unoriginal.  This is usually uttered by someone who is interested in undressing you.  You just blew any remote chance you may have had at all.  If you want someone’s not smiling, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re upset.  It may mean nothing at all.  No one I know of walks around with a perma-smile.  Perma mouth-agape, yes but not perma-smile.  If you want to get that barkeep to smile, how about you be courteous, charming, funny or witty?
  • It’s my birthday” or “It’s my friend’s birthday” Never, ever utter these words to the bartender. You’re not getting any free drinks period.
  • What should I order?” Internal answer: I have no fucking idea!!!  Externally, we may smile and hand offer you a “would you like to take a look at the drink menu?” or “do you like drinks which are dry, sweet, fruity, creamy, etc?” to try and narrow down the plethora of options or “our house specialties are…”  In reality, when the bar is really busy, this is absolutely troublesome and you’ve instantly made the bartender irate.  In clubs I’ve worked at, this type of behavior would result in you being ignored for a good long while.  In a bar/restaurant, that reaction often doesn’t fly.  I may tell you I’ll be right back while you ponder the display of booze on the back bar, the taps and the menu.  Consider also that a drink that one person likes, another my find disgusting.  Give us a ballpark idea of what you’d like, ask for a drink menu straight away, or study the beverages on display before you approach the barkeep. 
  • I’d like you to bear my children.  What time do you get off?” or “You’re hot! What’s your number?” or “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” or “Have you been tested for STD’s recently?” etc.  How about some foreplay first eh?  You get the picture.  You think these are jokes but we get various versions of these questions repeatedly.   Read my Macking with the Staff article.
  • What’s your number/email address?” Milder category of the preceding…
  • Facebook Friend Request.- In the beginning, God created…whoops – wrong blog! Um… in the beginning of FB, it was all about hooking up with random hotties.  Now that every Tom, Dick, Jane, your Grandma, and your Dad are on FB, an etiquette has evolved.  Most people are no longer random FB Friend Collectors (I hope).  If you’re a customer, regular or not, what business do you have sending a Friend Request where you’ve never hung out with this employee, you don’t have his/her number and otherwise have no relationship other than the fact that you’re a patron??? All this proves in most cases is that you’ve gone through the trouble of finding out the barkeep’s last name, have stalked them online a bit and that equals creepy! Ewwww!
  • I’d like that with little/no ice” Umm…. no.  Don’t be surprised if you get a half-filled high-ball or rocks glass.  Quit the bullshit.  This is a common tactic of a certain class of individual who shall remain nameless and is always trying to get something for free.  This person is simply trying to get over on newbie bartenders who are clueless.  The reason they keep doing it is because it works in many places and there is an endless stream of said newbie bartenders who will give away the house because they’re inexperienced and clueless.   My standard response to this type of request is to offer a shot and a chaser separately to avoid any drama which is sure to come from just about everyone ordering in this fashion.  Or, as mentioned, I’ll provide a half-filled glass.  When/if the customer complains, I’ll ask if they’d like a double which almost always shuts them up.
  • Make it strong!”  Errr…. if you’ve read my other articles, you’ll know how I feel about this one.  This request goes hand in hand with the little/no ice request.  These are mouthed by cheapskates and freeloaders and handled in a similar fashion.  As a customer, if you mouth this phrase, you’ve instantly painted yourself into a corner of the bartender’s brain and not a good one.  It’s a placed reserved for the worst customers imaginable outside of non-tipping Eurotrash – the ghetto crowd.  I speak of “ghetto” as a mindset and pattern of behavior not where you live nor your skin color.  “Ghetto” folks come from all over unfortunately.  They often want something for nothing or feel they’re entitled to special treatment.   Anyway, I will typically respond “yes, abolutely sir/maam!” and make the drink exactly as I would otherwise and tell them it’s nice and strong.  Otherwise, I may use extra ice and fill the drink a bit less than I normally would resulting in a higher concentration of booze.  Another trick if you can get away with it is to pour a slight of amount of booze directly down the straw to appease the guest with the first sip.  If not, the asking for a double or extra shot dialogue is in order.
  • I’m friends with the owner” Argh!!! This is always bullshit and almost always another case of someone trying to get over.  You will be identified and treated as such. If you were the owner’s brother, sister, cousin twice removed, lawyer, etc, you would never drop names and have grand expectations.  You would shut the hell up and show up with said owner(s), have their numbers, and generally go about your business unobtrusively.  
  • Do you guys do buybacks?” or “Is that one free?” Ugh! Previously covered but worth mentioning again about a thousand times.  This is the mother of all bar faux-pas.
  • Can I have a coffee?”  This may seem innocuous to you but in the evening while the bar is busy, this is a massive annoyance as the bartender sometimes has to run around for a while to obtain a setup, sugar caddy, cream, spoon, and maybe not so fresh coffee all for the grand sum of a dollar or two for the house and perhaps $.50 cents to a dollar tip.  Furthermore, you’re occupying space that could legitimately be used by our favorite type of clientele, the alcoholic – preferably a Suit with a corporate AMEX and a dozen of his buddies.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with ordering coffee – I exaggerate a tad.  The daytime lends itself to juch java consumption as does a cooling off period after several rounds of drinks.  But when it’s busy at night, this is a major PITA.
  • I’d like a milkshake”  This falls into the same domain as the coffee but worse.  This is probably the most annoying order you can give to a bartender.  It’s messy, non-alcoholic [read: bars like people who drink booze], and most importantly takes a LONG time to make which equals loss of income.
  • Are there any seats anywhere?” or “We’d like to have some drinks but can’t find any seats”  This is beyond aggravating.  The bar is 3 deep.  We have 3 orders for 8 people in our heads, menus in arms, cash in fists, and are carrying on 2 other conversations.  Bar stools/seating are the customers’ domain.  You must fend for yourself.  If you’re exceptionally hot, we’ll drop everything you’re doing, kick out the old dude eating dessert at the far end of the bar and kindly seat you ourselves.  
  • Can you ask that chick over there if she has a boyfriend or would like a drink?” Yikes.  Creep.  No self esteem.  Get your pathetic ass up, put the iPhone down and go talk to her.
  • Can I get a glass of water?” as you run into the bathroom fresh off your skateboard, fully jacketed, huffing and puffing, on your wat out the door with zero intention of actually buying anything or ordering anything else.  
  • My friend is gonna pay for these drinks.  He’s coming in a few minutes.”  Umm… NO!  You will pay or  drop a credit card to hold the tab.  Chicks pull this one regularly.
  • We’re just waiting for a table” As you and your party of 7 occupy 1/3 of the bar ordering nothing.  If it’s not busy, fine – no problem.  The restaurant is happy to have you.  But as soon as the bar fills up, you’re costing everyone money.  Please wait in the waiting area or order something for all or most of your party while you await a table.
  • Can we transfer our check to a table?” Jesus no! In most restaurant-bars I’ve worked in, the bar is extremely busy.  As a result, it’s damned near impossible to track down parties that have moved to a table.  Furthermore, the barkeep looks at the situation as a complete loss of gratuity.  Again if it’s slow and the tab is relatively small, fine.  We’re here to accommodate.

  • “Have you seen the movie ‘Cocktail’ with Tom Cruise?” Holy shit! You douchebag.  Do you honestly think that (1) I haven’t (2) that I care and (3) that you’re the first moron to bring up that retarded reference?  I don’t care about a fictional flair bartender who used nothing but props.  Think of something more interesting and original to talk about, if you’re even capable of delving deep enough in your douchebag intelligista arsenal to do so.  

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