Being a bartender is a serious test of one's patience, one whose trials include brawlers, barfers, hucksters, and whatever you call that insufferable butthole who keeps putting Journey on the jukebox. And while there are certain behaviors that are guaranteed to piss a bartender off every time, there are others that slowly chip away at their calm veneer that you probably didn't even realize were annoying. You might be the nicest person in the bar, but if you're committing any of the below sins, you're probably irritating the holy hell out of your favorite bartender.
Asking if there's any booze in your drink
Chances are, you’re asking because you ordered something tall thinking you were ordering a double. Or you ordered something so sugary that you didn’t want to taste the booze in the first place. Either way, the bartender has absolutely no incentive whatsoever to screw you over on the alcohol content of your drink. And if you think they’re doing it because you’ve already had too much, you’re wrong. If you’ve had too much, they’d give you a glass of water and tell you you’re cut off. If you want a strong drink, order something that isn't served in a fishbowl full of fruit. Or just order an extra shot to dump into your Purple Alien Punch it like a grownup.
Treating the bar like a phone-charging station
Bartenders like making customers happy, and sometimes that means helping a patron out by charging their phone for them, provided they have a spare outlet behind the bar. But people are addicted to their phones, and that’s where it becomes problematic for bartenders. We get that your friends are running late, and you’re worried they forgot about you. But if the bartender was cool enough to charge your phone, for the love of God, don’t ask them to look and see if you’ve gotten any messages. And don’t ever -- ever -- reach behind the bar to check it yourself: In many instances is illegal, and in every instance is a complete violation of spacial laws. If your bartender is charging your phone for you, just let it chill there for 30 minutes. Your friends are dickheads for being late. You don’t need to be a dickhead because you forgot to charge your phone before you got there.
Being an attention hog when the bar's crazy busy
One of the skills every great bartender possesses is the ability to shoot the shit, listen to woes, and concoct unique drinks for you based on asking what exactly you like, all while making sure every customer is happy. But just as you wouldn’t hound an ER doctor about a case of ringworm as they’re treating a person for a severed limb, an extremely busy Friday night is probably not the best time to tell an hourlong story, ask for relationship advice, or test out your new stand-up routine. Especially if you feel the need to utter “OK, like I was saying” after they’ve just cleared a dozen drink orders. Again. They'll listen every time, but they'll be dying on the inside.
Putting a stool between you and your friend
There is a special place in hell for people who waste prime real estate in a bar just because they’re afraid they’ll get some skin to skin contact with their bro-bro. For a bartender, that’s lost money and frustrated patrons. On the plus side, it’s one less seat occupied by a person looking to try out her new stand-up routine, but still…
Treating the bartender like an automated ordering system
Divorced from the works of Phillip K. Dick, a bartender is a living, breathing person. And when a living, breathing person says hello, it’s common courtesy to smile and also say “Hello,” not to look away and mumble “whiskey soda.” It’s just the kind of thing bartenders have to shrug off despite it making them stifle simmering resentment each time it happen. If you don’t want to be even surface-level polite, go to one of those bars that has automated ordering systems at the table. If you don’t know where there is one, just figure out which pub in your vicinity got a Bar Rescue makeover by John Taffer. Dude loves those things as much as he does screaming at rednecks who don't know how to make craft cocktails.
Lining up at the bar
This is a relatively new epidemic that, like bacon donuts, has roots in the Pacific Northwest. People will walk into a pub, look at a 30-foot-long mahogany bar lined with empty stools, then form a single-file line to get a drink as if they’re waiting for churros at Disneyland. People seem to believe they’re being polite. What they’re instead doing is making it impossible for a bartender to multitask, hit a few orders at the same time, and take care of people who were sensible enough to sit at the bar like a goddamn grownup. If you see this happening at a place that specifically lacks a sign that says “line up here,” just sit at the bar, order a drink, and watch everyone else wait far longer than any human should for a drink. Then tip your bartender generously for serving them with a smile rather than zapping them with a cattle prod like they deserve.
Not having your payment ready
Basically every single instance where you ask for a commodity in exchange for currency ends with said commodity arriving and currency leaving your wallet. So why is it that so many bar patrons act like they’re shocked when a bartender asks for money, then begin shifting from pocket to pocket looking for a wallet, then sifting through a dozen half-full sandwich punchcards looking for a debit? You know it’s about to happen. Have the card or cash at the ready and help the bartender avoid awkwardly smiling at you as you waste their time figuring out a practice that has existed for millennia.
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Senior editor Andy Kryza has at least 15 half-punched sandwich cards in his wallet, which he plans to sort while waiting in line at a bar this weekend. Follow him to free lunch @apkryza.