Bartenders are more than happy to engage in conversation with a customer—it’s all part of a day’s work, along with shaking up cocktails, pouring out shots, pulling draught beers and generally making everyone’s day better. But it’s up to the customer to conversate properly and respectfully. Here are the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of talking to your bartender.
DO Ask Your Bartender for Recommendations, But DON’T Ask if a Drink Is “Any Good”
Asking your bartender for a recommendation is totally fine—even encouraged. But you need to be respectful as to how you go about it.
“We change the menu every three months, which means any drink on the menu has gone through months and sometimes years of testing,” says Luke Whearty, bartender at Operation Dagger in Singapore. “We wouldn’t put it on the menu if it wasn’t ‘any good’ and we didn’t believe in it.”
Instead of insulting a bartender by insinuating that they knowingly put a sub-par drink on their menu, communicate your taste preferences (favorite spirit, flavors, etc.), and let the bartender suggest an educated recommendation.
DO Order Your Drink Before Talking to Friends
Of course you want to chat it up with your friends—maybe even some strangers—while you’re drinking at the bar. But before you do, please make sure your business is settled with the bartender.
“There are few things more satisfying than providing a guest with a drink that they actually want to drink,” says Kim Rosselle of San Francisco’s Trick Dog. “But when ordering a drink, please don’t turn to your friends, and therefore away from the bar. Turns out, when facing away from the bar, it’s kind of hard to hear you.”
Don’t Shove a Phone in Your Bartender’s Face
A lot of bars are very dimly lit establishments, and after several hours in that environment, a bartender’s eyes become very sensitive. So don’t insist on showing the bartender the awesome Insta shot of a cocktail you recently had—and turn off the flash. “If you shove a phone in my face, or blind me with the light on your iPhone while you are taking a video of me, it just kinda sucks,” says Alejandro De La Parra of the Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Oregon. “I’d be glad to try and replicate a recipe, but leave the phone on the bar. Sure, take a video, but leave the light off.”