Maybe you’re alone at the bar, desperate for conversation, or maybe you’re just naturally curious, either way you have to be tactful when striking up a conversation with the bartender. You’re at the bar to toss drinks into your mouth, not spit annoying one-liners or overeager demands. Hold your tongue if you even think of muttering one of these forever prohibited phrases.
“How about a drink on the house?”
Give this line a shot on your birthday (there are a few bars actually known to honor such a request), but otherwise don’t go around demanding comped drinks. Your bartender can’t afford to dish out freebies to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Even the bartender’s friends don’t always get that kind of treatment. If your bartender wants to slide a free drink your way, he or she will do so unasked.
“Hey! Buddy! Over here! The guy waving the mon-ay! I want to order!”
Not only is it rude to shout and wave at your bartender like a taxi, but it’ll probably slow down your service too.
“Can you make my drink extra strong?”
A double costs extra. So pay up or pick a stronger drink from the menu if your Aperol Spritz isn’t getting you belligerent fast enough.
“Can you make this drink again? I want it to be better.”
If you don’t like your drink, order something else. If there’s a particular aspect of the drink you are surprised to dislike (“I usually love bacon...but maybe not with whiskey.”), point it out and see what the bartender can do. No one expects you to down a drink you don’t like, but petty complaints won’t get you any closer to a better second round.
“So, what’s your real job?”
Chances are, your bartender has had to defend their career of choice to parents, friends, maybe even a guidance counselor back in the day. This is a craft that takes dedication and practice, and you benefit from that commitment with every sip of your Manhattan. Your server might well be tending his or her way through business school or side-hustling while writing the next great American epic, but you’re a customer here for drinks, so stay in your lane.
“One Mojito, please.”
You may find the minty white rum drink utterly refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but the heat is nothing compared to the sweltering fury you just ignited in the bartender. The work intensive recipe requires more of your bartender’s attention than he or she can afford when there’s a packed bar. A bunch of rage-muddling will yield a less than stellar drink anyway.
“Can you make me something I’ll love without any guidance whatsoever?”
The psychic is next door. Go over there if you want someone to pretend to read your mind. Otherwise, give your bartender some hint of what you want, including a base spirit and general flavor profile at least.
“I know the owner.”
That’s funny, so does your bartender. Maybe you can all hangout later. But that fact is not going to earn you any special attention.
“Can you hold onto my coat/bag/dog/diamond engagement ring behind the bar?”
The well isn’t some limitless Narnia with room to store all of your stuff. You can see from your stool how little room there is for bartenders and barbacks to pass each other on their way to deliver beverages to your fellow drinkers. Keep track of your own belongings.
Do you smile all the time at work? Because if you do, your coworkers think you look like an idiot.
“I like the way you shake, baby.”
You wouldn’t hit on your bank teller. You wouldn’t hit on your mechanic. Feel free to attempt your horrible, creepy pickup lines on anybody with ear-balls on your side of the bar—the bartender will happily watch you fall flat—but don’t go tossing your cheesiest come-ons across the bartop.
“Do you have a phone charger?”
If your phone’s drained and it’s an emergency, your bartender might let you plug into an outlet. But don’t push your luck by asking to borrow one from the bar staff, and don’t ask to charge your phone in the middle of the back bar where the bartender has to fetch it for you every five seconds.
“Is there a male bartender who can make my drink?”
Yeah, there is. Back in 1955. If you’d like to join the rest of us in 2017, briefly review the history of female contributions to the history of bartending, then shut up and drink the best drink you’ve ever had—no “made by a woman” qualifier required.
“You don’t mind hanging around for an hour after last call, right?”
Your bartender doesn’t live behind the bar. There’s not a sleeping bag and a night light for when lackadaisical drinkers feel like droning on well past closing time.