So, you’re about to turn the legal drinking age in your country, yes? Or maybe you’re already of age? If you’re not of age, get the fuck out of here and come back later—young’uns won’t get served, anyway.
We got an ask (since eaten by tumblr) about general bar etiquette, how to tip, how to get the bartender’s attention to order, etc. And I, as an Adult Who Drinks, have decided that this would be an awesome post, because everyone should know this.
First thing’s first: ALWAYS bring your state/federal-issued photo ID with you if you go anywhere and are expecting to order a drink. Why? Because places of business usually need a liquor license to operate, and just any other license, if they break the rules associated with said license (like serving minors), it gets taken away—meaning they can no longer sell or serve alcohol. So if you think you can get by without a real ID, you may want to think again. Losing your business that night is a lot less of a loss for the bar/restaurant/club than losing a license to serve the rest of their patrons.
So, you’ve wisely brought your ID proving that you are also Able to Consume Alcohol, and now you want to order. Great! Here are a few tips for ordering your drink from the bar…
Have your money ready. I have confirmed with my roommate and other bartenders I know that one of the most annoying things—especially on busy nights—is when a customer asks for a single drink and then pays for it with a credit/debit card. Unless you have the intention of opening up a tab ordering more than one drink, pay in cash. Try to have a variety of bills, because breaking a Benjamin (or whatever your country’s equivalent is) on a couple of cheap drinks makes you an ass. And keep smaller bills on you for tipping.
Get to the bar to order. This should be self-explanatory, but you can’t just shout a drink order form across the room all Thor-style. You need to get up to the bar. If it’s crowded, I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to get a hand on the bar top, then get the rest of you to stand in front of the bar, parallel (or square) to it. You might have to use a few “excuse me’s” to get around/through people. If you’re facing the bar sideways, it can look like you’re there to socialize with the other people standing around, and the bartender may ignore you.
Get the bartender’s attention. Even if the bar is crowded, never yell for the bartender or wave your money around. This will most-likely get you ignored, because not only do you look like a moron, but you’re being a rude asshole, too. The best way is to face forward toward the bar and look at the bartender. You know how you can feel someone’s eyes on you? The bartender can feel that too, or they’ll see you out of the corner of their eye, and take it as a signal that you want to order a drink.
On another note, if there is more than one bartender, try to stand in-between them on your side of the bar. Why? Because your money is up for dibs! When there are multiple bartenders, they usually establish “territory” areas around the bar to get customers. So if you haven’t ordered at all yet, you can sort of compete for a bartender by standing in the middle-ground.
Ordering a drink. Once you have your bartender’s attention, state your order clearly and quickly. If it’s crowded and loud, be prepared to shout a bit. Watch them make your drink—this is not only for safety (watch for strange things being put in), but also so you know when your drink’s ready, and the bartender doesn’t have to get your attention to give you your drink.
Want to try something new? If it’s a slow night, and the bartender isn’t rushing around, this is a pretty good environment to ask for a recommendation. I usually just mention what kind of flavors or taste I usually go for or enjoy, and the bartender will make some suggestions. These may or may not end up being drinks you enjoy, but it can be worth the risk!
Paying. While your bartender’s making your drink, have your money out and ready. If you’re planning on opening a tab, have your debit/credit card ready—and don’t forget to tell them you plan on opening a tab!
Tipping. A lot of people have different opinions on how and what to tip your bartender. This is how I do it: your largest tip will be for the first drink. Especially if I plan on ordering a few drinks, I tip around $3-5 for the first, depending on how expensive/difficult the drink is. If you’re asking for fancy flaming, rainbow, sugared, or whipped shit, make it $5 for sure. Then, each additional drink gets a $1-2 tip (about 20% for most stuff I order). Why the big first tip? Because it means that I am more likely to be served than the asshole next to me, who didn’t tip, or tipped less. Doesn’t matter how long you stood at the bar waiting—bartenders choose who’s order they take next, and you just gave him/her $$ incentive to choose yours.
You can also go by the 20% rule: tip them 20% of what the drink costs. So if your drink costs $5, tip $1. This changes a bit when there’s a DRINK SPECIAL. Let’s say that on Thursdays at this bar, all domestic beers and vodka-based mixers are $1. Do you tip 20 cents? NO, you fucking moron. Normally the drink is $3-5, so you tip at least $1. A lot of people who are there for the special may not tip at all, so this is a really good way to get on the bartender’s good side so you get your next drinks faster.
Bathroom Attendants and Tipping. Sometimes fancy bars or clubs will have bathroom attendants. These are nice people who hang out in the bathroom and hear your bowel movements, but also provide nice toiletries, like body spray/perfume, gum, ibuprofen, makeup remover, tampons, condoms, etc. It’s expected that if you use any of these things, to tip the attendant a buck or two. They’re usually the ones who buy and bring this shit for your convenience, so be nice and thank them, too.
Know Your Limits. You can’t handle your alcohol, so don’t get shit-faced in a bar. Why? Because there’s nothing bartenders and bouncers hate more than dealing with drunk people. But then why else am I going to the bar? I fucking know—you’re going to drink and have fun—but since when is being blacked-out drunk fun? You don’t want to be kicked out of a place for being too drunk, too belligerent, or for vomiting everywhere. Not only is it embarrassing, but if the employees remember you the next time you go in, you may have a tough time getting an order in. If there’s bouncers, you may not even get through the door.
Also, know your money limits. I used to frequent this shitty bar/club that had the $1 drink specials mentioned above on Thursday nights. I would spend $2 a drink—$1 tip for a $1 drink—so I would keep getting served. I figured out my alcohol limit at the time, and only brought enough dollar bills to cover that many drinks. It was beneficial for a couple reasons: 1) I never spent more money than I planned—sometimes less—and 2) I never got shit-faced wasted so I could dance, have fun, and remember it.
Get Home Safe. Please, if you’re going out to drink, you better fucking know how you’re getting home. There’s shit like public transportation (train, subway, bus), taxis, and designated drivers. If you live within walking distance, you could even go by fucking foot. If you’re the designated driver, don’t touch any fucking alcohol—your friends are relying on you to get them home safe. If you and your pals plan on taking a taxi home make sure you saved enough fucking money to pay the cab driver. Don’t be that person who had to run into their apartment or stop at an ATM to get money to pay their cabbie. Also, alcohol and soda dehydrate you, so drink some water before you go to bed.
So have a good time, and remember to tip the people making your drinks!
-The Sudden Adult