Food & Drink

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Bartender (According to a Former Bartender)

Peter Clark / 12 Mile Limit Bar / Flickr

Bartenders have to have a lot of patience to do their job well. Dealing with customers until the wee hours of the morning requires grace, tact and yes, some eye rolling when their backs are turned. But a bartender’s ultimate goal is to make customers happy while they’re at the bar, so that departing drinkers will want to come back again and again. If you’re interested in being a regular at a bar, you will show your bartender the same patience and respect. On the other hand, if you want to live dangerously and test the limits of your bartender’s temper, you can say one of these phrases to them instead—take it from me, a former bartender.

Hey You! Over Here! *Waves Arms Frantically*

First, I have a name and it’s not “You” or “Mr. Bartender.” Second, there is order to what you perceive as the chaos of the bar. I know exactly who came to the bar and when, and I will serve them in that order. You screaming over the crowd like a wild baboon won’t get you your drink any faster. In fact, now I’ll probably skip you just to see you squirm.

What Else Do You Do for Work?

Like, bartending isn’t a job? Is that what you’re implying? I’d really like to see you work 12 hours straight on your feet, making hundreds, if not thousands, of drinks in a single night while customers bark orders at you like you’re a Google Home. Let’s get one thing straight: Bartending can be a profession, and unlike many careers nowadays, it is a highly-skilled, trade job (similar to carpentry) that takes focus, intuition, and years of dedication.

I Tipped Well on the Last Round—Don’t I Get a Free Drink?

No, free drinks are not chosen by fate, lottery, or your ability to tip well. Friendly banter, the regularity of your visits, whether or not we know each other’s first names, that one time you brought your bartender a torta from the taco truck when they had to start their shift early and didn’t get a chance to eat—these are the types of things that get you free alcohol. A great man once said that nothing, absolutely nothing, no matter how good it sounds, is truly free. Being a genuinely good person doesn’t cost you any money (minus the occasional torta purchase)—but it may get you things that do.

What Time Are You off Work?

It is pretty much guaranteed that your bartender doesn’t want to be hit on while they’re working. If he or she is interested in a customer at the bar—they will make it known. And unless you’re the bartender’s significant other, or close friend, you shouldn’t be asking them what time they’re closing. It is never OK to put anyone in the position where you as the customer are waiting patiently, and very creepily, for someone to get off of work, expecting them to leave with you.

Can I Get a Drink, Sweetie?

“Hey sugar” and “Hey beautiful” are also unacceptable, even if I am in fact beautiful or somehow covered in sugar (simple syrupcan explode all over you accidentally). In fact, any catcalls, or derogatory remarks associated with gender and sexual orientation are not allowed—ever. This is a quick way to get yourself acquainted with the bouncer and the pavement outside the front door.

Do You Have a Phone Charger I Could Use?

OK, I understand your plight, but, unless your iPhone warranty covers damage incurred from liquor spills, you're not charging your phone behind my bar. Sorry for being dickish, but accidents happen, and I don’t need to be responsible for the fact that you can’t seem to find time to charge your phone before you leave home/the office/your car or don’t carry a charger of your own.

Did You Know That It’s My Birthday!

First, I did not! Second, anything that denotes that you are more special than other customers—or that you deserve free drinks (see: thing three not to say to bartenders)—will not elicit the response that you’re expecting. Even if your friend is celebrating their one-hundred-and-eleventieth birthday, the bar is not covering a round of drinks for you and everyone else at the bar. If you’re asking because you want me to sing you a song or dance a friendly jig, if I have the time, I’ll gladly make the accommodation.

How Do You Feel About Your Manhattan/Margarita/Martini?

Do you think you do your job well? Because that’s what you just asked me. And I know that I do my job well. That’s why I have it in the first place. And yes, I can make pretty much any cocktail from memory and make it well enough to want to drink it myself.

I Know You’re Busy but Can You Take a Picture of Us?

Unless the bar is completely dead, with crickets chirping and tumbleweeds a’ blowin’, then it’s probably not a good time to interrupt me with your photo request. You’d honestly have more luck and be less annoying if you asked one of your fellow customers who is not doing anything but drinking. Or you could use that photo booth in the corner we bought just for situations like this.

Do You Know Who I Am?!

No, I’m sorry. I do not know who you are. Does that mean you’re famous? You must be one of those D list celebrities that craves attention because they haven’t heard back from their agent in weeks. Real celebrities don’t want people to know who they are. That’s why they come into my bar all shady-like, wearing heavily tinted sunglasses and a ballcap pulled down tight. I’m here to make drinks—not to assuage your already inflated ego.