Food & Drink

15 Red Flags That Your Bartender Is a Total Amateur

Bullshit bartender
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

You know the type: all flash, no substance. Always texting, never pouring -- and when they do, it's shorter than a Danny DeVito/Lil' Kim love child. They have suspenders and a mustache, but only adopted them after they were cool. Or they still cite Cocktail as a major influence on their life, even as they sweep up the remains of broken bottles from their last attempt at "flairing up" a sex on the beach.

This is the amateur bartender. But sometimes a terrible bartender is much better at hiding his or her lack of skills than at making drinks. See any of these signs and you might want to consider moving to a different watering hole.

Bullshit bartender
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

They Google every recipe on their phone

If you don’t know how to make an Old Fashioned, you should at least have a dusty, 100-year-old, leather-bound book laying around for reference.

They ask you how to make drinks

Sure, more complex drinks might provide a challenge, especially if they have weird regional names. But if you don't know how to make a whiskey ginger… maybe a new line of work is in order.

They use sour mix for any citrus drink

It's like using Pledge in place of lemon zest.

They're constantly trying to hook up with customers

As a fellow human, I understand the primal urge to procreate. As someone who's been waiting on a Modelo for 15 minutes while the barkeep chats up a woman in yoga pants, I hope they never get the chance to procreate.

They treat servers like trash

This might be more jerky than bullshitty, but still: Any bartender worth their salt knows a restaurant is a delicate ecosystem, and treating co-employees poorly is the quickest way to sabotage your career. And the bar.

Every cocktail is pulled out of a soda gun

Nobody wants to drink a fizzy, pre-made Old Fashioned with a slight hint of Diet Dr Pepper.

They use a bunch of gross old fruit as garnish

Sure, it took you a really long time to slice a couple lemons into wedges then open that jar of maraschino cherries. But maybe it's time to toss them out and let the fruit flies have 'em. I mean, they're already all over the container anyway.

They scoop ice with the glass… or their hands

The latter is wildly unsanitary, the former could result in shards of broken and chipped glass hiding invisibly in an ice tray, which could lead to some internal bleeding, which is also wildly unsanitary.

They keep pouring drinks out of pitchers

Sure, punches are super-hot right now. A pitcher full of Long Islands that's been sitting there for a week? No. Just no.

They constantly brag about their bartending credentials

Congratulations on completing a free online bartending course! And for supporting your local frame store so you could proudly display your "degree" alongside your status as a preacher of the Universal Church of Life. Thing is… that bartending course was about as legit as the seminary that allowed you to moderate your friend's wedding.

Tom Cruise in Cocktail
Buena Vista Pictures

They go full Cruise

Unless you're at an extremely outdated Cocktail-themed bar, you're the only one who gives a shit about your bottle juggling. If you're going to act like any Tom Cruise character, go for Jerry Maguire. That dude had integrity out the wazoo. **wistful sigh**

They keep touching the rims of glasses

I don't know where those hands have been. Unless it's the same bartender who has been relentlessly hitting on everyone all night… in which case I do know where they've been. That's even worse.

They won't shut up about themselves

Bartenders are supposed to be listeners! This is why I can write off my bar tab as "therapy."

They only play music they like

A good bartender knows how to play the crowd and coax the jukebox into playing songs that will keep the customers happy. A bullshit bartender will play his self-curated mix of Eastern European EDM and spill every drink at the bar when ze beat drops.

They actually are Tom Cruise

Look, dude, we know you're an actor/Scientology deity. Not a bartender. Just be happy with what you have.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer at Thrillist who is also Tom Cruise. Follow him to unnecessary sprinting and elevated thetan counts @wilfulton.