How to Win a Bar Fight Without Throwing a Punch

Bar fights happen. Between the overcrowded space, excess alcohol and over-energized patrons, fights are inevitable. And sometimes, even if you aren’t looking for a tussle, someone will try to pull you into a dispute. Maybe you accidentally spilled a drink and it totally sent someone over the edge. Maybe you zoned out and someone thought you were staring at them. Or maybe you just have a punchable face. If you’re at all worried about ever ending up in a bar fight, follow these tips for avoiding conflict. You’ll drink in peace for the rest of eternity.

Don’t Flirt With Someone Who’s Taken

If you’re single and ready to mingle, a bar can be a great place to find a potential date if you follow the proper protocol. As you’re scanning the room for your next object of flirtation, be sure to take note of who’s hanging with friends and who’s there with a significant other. If the apple of your eye looks even potentially taken, for the love of whiskey, do not hit on them. Some boyfriends and girlfriends might brush it off, but anyone with a hot temper will not take kindly to you hitting on a beau. Stick to seeking out the clearly single ladies and men, unless you want to get punched in the face.

Respect Personal Space

We understand that bars get crowded. And sometimes there are so many folks packed into a little watering hole that the concept of “personal space” is downright laughable. But you can still respect the illusion of it. Leaning on the back of someone else’s chair, throwing elbows while weaving through the crowd, or hovering over an occupied table are all good ways to make folks angry. We know some situations can’t be avoided, but a peaceful bar experience starts with minding your manners.

Know Your Trigger Drinks

Liquor affects people differently. While the sheer amount of alcohol you consume certainly comes into play, the type of spirit you’re sipping matters too. If you know that tequila makes you angry or whiskey has gotten you in trouble in the past, it’s time to rethink your ordering strategy. Enjoy one of your favorite beverages, but then move on to something that won’t get you fired up in a bad way.

Make Friends With the Bouncer

A bouncer’s job isn’t as easy as it looks. Either they don’t have much to do, so they’re bored, or they’re way too busy 86-ing troublemakers all night. Showing bouncers a little love will not only make their night better, it can also benefit you. Know your bouncer’s name and ask him how his night’s going when you first show your ID. If you’ve gotten to know each other well over the course of a few nights out, bring him a slice of pizza or another delicious snack once in awhile. Not only is it a nice gesture, but he won’t be so quick to boot you if things heat up—in fact, he might even take your side. We’re not saying he’s your “get out of jail free” card, but he’ll likely cut you a break if you two have a good rapport.

Tip Your Bartender

If you’re not doing this, you shouldn’t be drinking in bars to begin with; but tipping early, often and well is always a good move. Not only will a bartender notice you first as you wait patiently for a drink, but he or she is also more likely to have your back if someone tries to involve you in a dispute. Unless you started it—then you’re out of luck.


If all else fails and the bartender and bouncer are nowhere to be found, then it’s time to put on your most pitiable pout and apologize profusely. Offer to buy the guy (or girl) a drink. Then leave the bar. Your pride might be hurt, but your face will remain intact.