7 Rules to Follow When Drinking at a Bar

There’s nothing worse than a rude bar patron. You know the type: He or she saunters up to the bar while talking loudly on the phone, waving a wad of cash at the bartender, asking a billion questions about the cocktail menu before finally deciding on a light beer and laying down the bare minimum of a tip only to resume that super important phone call.

These types of watering hole faux pas aren’t only impolite. They’re also the signs of a bar-going amateur. Here are a few pro tips on how to act at any bar.

Don’t Waste the Bartender’s Time

Most bartenders are happy to talk cocktails, spirits, wine, sports, movies or just about anything else—if they have time. Try to avoid playing 20 questions when the bar is busy.

Know What You Want (or at Least Have a Good Idea)

There’s little point in waving down a bartender at a crowded bar if you aren’t ready to order. Take the time to study the cocktail menu or lock down your drink request before locking eyes with your bartender.

Know Your Cocktail Lingo

If you want to be understood by a bartender, you have to talk like a bartender. Ask for your Manhattan straight up or your Margarita on the rocks. Request a twist for your Martini. Get familiar with basic cocktail-related terminology. Order confidently and concisely, and you’ll get exactly what you want.

Don’t Holler at the Bartender

Would you wave a sawbuck at the waiter in a fancy restaurant? What about a $20 at your hairdresser? Of course not. The same common courtesy applies at the bar. If the bar is busy, trust that the bartender is keeping track of who arrived when and will get to you in a timely manner. If you’re sure you were overlooked, try making eye contact and waving politely—you’ll get noticed without offending.

Stay off Your Phone

If you want the bartender’s full attention, give him or her yours. Stop texting. Stop telling your BFF about your annoying boss. Stop Instagramming the bar’s garnishes. Order your drink and wait politely.

Tip Well and Tip Often

People tend to become a little forgetful after a few cocktails. Go ahead and forget your friend’s name, your cat’s birthday and your social security number—just don’t forget to tip your bartender. If you’re paying cash, be sure to tip on every drink order.

Say Thank You

Your bartender works hard. There’s a lot of work that goes into that final cocktail. So be sure to thank him or her for your delicious drinks.

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