11 Simple Rules for Buying Your Bartender a Shot

Shots with your bartender
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Everybody loves taking shots with the bartender. A night out is just a hell of a lot more fun when you feel like the person pouring your drinks is a friend and not just someone providing you a service -- and in the entire history of mankind, nothing has ever cemented a friendship like taking shots together. Except maybe serving together in a war. But outside of that, it’s definitely taking shots.

That being said, your bartender is at the office. Given that, here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re inviting them into your shot circle. Or square. Whatever geometric shape you’re into, really:

1. Don’t order an extra shot and assume the bartender’s going to take it

Not because bartenders don’t like surprises (who doesn’t like surprises!), but because some bars allow -- or even encourage -- their bartenders to take shots with customers, while others have a policy against it.

2. Also, remember that time you worked in a fudge shop...

...and most days it was like heaven because you got so many free fudge samples, but some days it was like, “I just cannot eat any fudge today”? Believe it or not, sometimes that’s how bartenders feel about shots.

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

3. If your bartender pours a half shot (a.k.a. a “work shot”) for themselves, don’t take it as a sign of disrespect

All it means is that the bartender knows they’ve got a long night ahead, filled with other people who’ll want to bond with them over thick-bottomed glasses.

4. On that note, it’s better to make the offer later in the night

Like, after 10pm, when the bartender's only got six more hours of work instead of eight.

5. Know what shot you and your friends want...

...and make sure everybody’s at the bar ready to take it. Otherwise it’s like telling the bartender, “Hey, I’m giving you this Christmas present, but you can’t open it until February, and until then you have to stand here staring at it.”

Shot Faces
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

6. Don’t make this face

Or that face!

7. Don’t take it the wrong way if the bartender opts for a different shot than what you and your friends are doing

The magic’s in taking shots of any kind together -- one person drinking something that isn’t a Slow Comfortable Screw Against The Wall isn’t going to ruin things.

8. Offering your bartender a Slow Comfortable Screw Against The Wall...

...is still a better move than offering them a cinnamon whisky from Canada.

A work shot
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

9. After you clink, but before you drink, touch your shot glass to the bar

In some bars it’s a nod to people who aren’t with you; in others it’s a sign of respect to the bar and everyone who makes it work. Not every bartender does it, but many do, and odds are this tradition’s 100,000,000 times more important to them than staring everybody in the eye to ward off bad sex.

Shots and tips
Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

10. Don’t treat the shot like a substitute for a tip

Your bartender appreciates the gesture, but not more than your bartender’s landlord appreciates his rent check. If you’re the kind of guy who buys rounds of shots, you’re probably also the kind of guy who gets buybacks, so it’ll all even out anyway.

11. If your bartender surprises you with a round of shots, take whatever’s poured -- it’s free!

If you’re just not feeling shots period, that’s obviously fine, but do not say you can’t do shots because you’re too old. As Rob Magill from New York’s Whiskey Tavern says, “Was my grandfather too old? No!” Don’t let Rob’s grandfather down.

Special thanks to Leave Rochelle Out Of It for the location. And the shots!

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