Use a straw to sample from the glass
"There can be great joy in watching a bartender carefully measure out each ingredient, fill the mixing vessel with hand-cracked ice, go into an elaborate shake or elegant stir, and artfully pour their concoction into a cold glass for me. What ruins that experience? Watching said bartender stick a straw into the glass to taste it just before serving it to me.
"Don't get me wrong, I am all for straw-tasting drinks to ensure all the ingredients are in there and that the temperature and dilution levels are on point. But tasting the drink in the glass is like watching a chef plate a dish, then check if the sauce is seasoned correctly. Whaddya gonna do if it ain't? You already frickin' plated it! Straw-taste in the tin or the mixing glass, where you can still make any minute adjustments to ensure the $15 cocktail I am getting is worth every penny. Otherwise, you're just doing it for show." -- Joaquin Simo, Pouring Ribbons (New York, NY)
Lose their cool
"The mistakes I see bartenders make range from improper use of a jigger to making inappropriate remarks in front of guests. Our jobs can be so demanding, stressful, and fast, but sometimes you need to slow down and think about how it looks to a guest when you are yelling at a co-worker, or making rude comments. Even made in jest, an inside joke to you might lead to an uncomfortable situation for the guest. That guest will recall that feeling when making a recommendation or a return trip, and your bar may suffer for it. -- Abigail Gullo, Compere Lapin (New Orleans, LA)
Assume customers are experts
"Many bartenders out there have become hyper-focused on using modern techniques to produce esoteric ingredients that will leave the consumer's mind blown with its almost surreal level of deliciousness. The reality is that these rockstar moments of jaw-dropping amazement are few and far between, and most guests don't know anything about gin, nor do they care. Bartenders need to place greater importance on striving to create a setting and mood in which every guest feels comfortable, welcome, and will enjoy themselves no matter what they are drinking.
"Although learning modern techniques to produce delicious craft libations is important, a cocktail drinker doesn’t know anything about the process of making gin... all they know is that they like it. I always tell new bartenders to reach for Danny Meyer's Setting the Table before they reach for Dave Wondrich's Imbibe!. That way they will understand that a great, awe-inspiring drink made to suit an individual's taste buds is but a small topping when serving guests warm and sating hospitality pie." -- Justin Lavenue, 2015 North American winner of the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender Competition, The Roosevelt Room (Austin, TX)