Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bartender Secrets (Part 1)

             You like to get drunk, right? You don’t have much cash? Or, if you’re a trust fund kid (god bless you), and you want to ensure that your parents hard earned money isn’t squandered on over priced drinks? Well, here we go.
            The bartender is always in charge. I don’t care WHO you are, we rule our beer-soaked lands. We will short change you if you’re a dick. We will cock-block you if you degrade us (by telling the girl you’re hitting on when you’re in the bathroom that we’ve ‘seen you around’, followed by the rolling of eyes. Trust me, girls believe their bartenders more than they believe your punk ass). We will always under pour your drinks if we so choose.
            Conversely, if you are a wonderfully sweet person, a great tipper, and somewhat of an interesting conversationalist (we get REAL bored back there sometimes), we can change the vibe of your night with a snap of a finger. We can get you laid. We can get you drunk. We can introduce you to our friends so you don’t have to sit lonely at the end of the bar staring into a candle.  
            Here’s some secrets of how not to anger/piss-off/infuriate your bartender so you can get all the perks a good wholesome drunk like yourself deserves.
            Twenty on the Bar.
            Now this is an old school thing. You roll in, after a hard day’s work, find a decent centered bar stool so you can scope the scene, saddle up, elbows down, and, after throwing a quick smile to the bartender, you break out a crisp, clean Andrew Jackson and slide it right on the bar and order a cocktail. You don’t even touch the money, the bartender will (if they know what the fuck they are doing).
            No one actually knows where this move was invented. But it states something very clear.
            I have money I want to spend here.
            No, I don’t give a shit about opening ‘tabs’.
            Yes, there is some of this twenty in it for you, Bar Keep, if everything goes smooth.
            This is a famed move of Italian Gangsters and anyone else who knows the bottom half of WWII.
            The bartender will continually take from this pool of money (always larger bills face up and on top), and respect the arrangement with a quiet sort of grace and respect.
            It’s got this feeling of class, like the patron doesn’t even have to handle the dirty business of the financials. It says street confidence and ‘no, I’m not going to run up a bill with you and drunkenly stiff you’. (Note: Ladies, it’s extra classy if y’all do it. In my career, I’ve seen only a handful of women pull this move, and I always lauded them with appropriate attention).

            “How Are You?”
            91% of the time, anyone in the food/beverage service industry is actually invisible to the customer. Seriously. We are all interchangeable faces that merely must shut up and provide a service a monkey could do if you trained him how to use a Church Key. When you are out to dinner, how many of you remember exactly what the waiter looked like? Or what the bartenders name was? Most of the time, the customer is coming off a long day and shuffles, tired into the bar.
Before them stands a mostly intelligent human being with hopes and dreams and feelings and, sometimes without even eye contact, the customer grunts:
            Now, nothing is more infuriating then one of these assholes.
            Hey, look, we don’t need to be best friends. We don’t need to talk about our feelings. But if you genuinely greet us with an honest “How are you?” it lifts us out of the nullifying abyss of obscurity and for a split second we actually feel like someone more than just a Robo Bartender (yes, they actually invented this, go here: ).
            Now, of course, we’re not going to tell you, actually, how we feel. You don’t want to know either. There’s just no time to discuss who knocked us up or how much coke we did last night, or how we can’t pay rent but still find the time to fuck 21 year old girls. But it’s your gesture that stands out in our bartending mind that you are the okay sort who will get their third drink bought back for them.

            Don’t Bring Up The Third Drink Rule!  
            This is an absolute imperative. Let me shout it from the mountains to be heard across every sea in the world.
            This will ensure that not only will you be ignored by the bartender, but you will be reviled and talked shit upon openly to other customers until you walk out in shame.
            Let me clear the air here. The Third Drink Rule is a loosely followed intuitive rule deeming that after the third drink bought (and tipped on) the bartender will buy the next one. This is not a hard and fast rule, and only decided by the bartender themselves.
            But somehow, as of late, I have heard customers (who obviously have never tended bar in their lives) bring this up with a bartender. Not only will you not get a free drink, but you will be hated for even daring to ask. It’s not funny. You’re not clever. You’re not ‘getting away’ with something, or proving anything to the bartender.
            You’re just proving that you’re a douche bag. Which wasn’t much in question to begin with.

            Stay tuned for Bartender Secrets (Part 2) 

Dont' treat us like this guy:


  1. I bartended for 15 years and YES! All of those things are SO true. Ha ha when I would get some douchebag who says" Don't I get my next drink for free?", I would always say, "Well, I WAS going to buy your next drink, but you fucked THAT one up. $12 please." Ha...I sure do miss it sometimes...

  2. I would like to comment as a customer. I’m the kind of person who meets the good customer criteria. I always greet the bartender with a smile and a how is it going before I order. I never refer to the bartender as chief, gov, cuz or boss because in my opinion it’s disrespectful and rude. I always tip and say take care now when I leave. But I have seen some of the dirty tricks played on customers. As an example I remember one bartender who just didn’t like me and made the mistake of telling one of my friends. He would do little things like tilt his head back as an indication he was ready to take my order rather than ask me what would you like to drink. I was always the last person he served and the change he gave me was always the ripped and torn bills from the register. At least he was honest about his feelings toward me by his mere, and not to subtle, actions. Another dirty trick that can come from bartenders that may actually have no dislike for you but are simply on the make is in the from of short changing customers and pocketing the money. As an older person that’s been around the block I’ve trained myself to pay attention to the change I receive after I’ve bought a drink. I never count change in front of the bartender and will wait till he can’t see what I’m doing. This may be sneaky but I do it because I don’t want the bartender to think I believe he is dishonest and I realize that bartenders do make honest mistakes. Here is an example of the above. I walk into a bar and find a friendly smiling girl bartender and order a rum and coke. I’ve been at this bar before so I know the price of drinks and food. However she does not know that and she charges me $4 for a $2.50 drink and $1 for a 50-cent bag of potato chips. When I gave her a twenty she gave me $15 dollars in change. It was one 10-dollar bill and five singles. I thought that’s odd even with the overcharge it should be one ten dollar bill and a five. So my thinking was that it’s easier to disguise a shortchange with a 10 dollar bill and five singles because you think that must be the right change when you see all that money with a ten dollar bill on top so you won’t count it. To be fair I thought well maybe she didn’t have a five to lay out with the ten-dollar bill and just miscounted with the singles. So I handed the ten back to her and said do you have two 5’s for this ten and she did. It’s interesting how a friendly smiling bartender can put you at ease and take your money from you and make you believe that they are the nicest person you ever met.