On any given day, I would estimate 1% of the entire internet is dedicated solely to articles and videos about how you should or shouldn’t act in a bar. They’re often created by overly bitter service industry workers and have guidelines that are so strict, following them would make sure everyone involves has zero fun. Bars are literally just a large room filled with liquor and music. It’s a place for fun, not rules about the “20 things you do that makes your bar staff hate you.” Now that I work behind the bar, I’ve decided I have the credibility to give you some realistic bar guidelines.
Strict rule: By the time the bartender asks you what you want, you better be ready to order immediately.
Realistic rule: Unless it’s a slammed weekend night, you can take as much time as you want to order. We’re usually bored AF behind the bar, so if you want to ask us for a recommendation, we’d be happy to accommodate you. However, you should have an idea of what you want to drink. This isn’t Subway and we don’t just have 20 options to pick from. At this point in your life, you should know which kinds of liquor you like. Saying, “surprise me” is totally acceptable, but you lose the right to bitch about the surprise.
Now if the place is packed, you should have your order ready before you approach the bar. Much like a restaurant, you wouldn’t flag down the waiter before you know what you want, so use the same logic here. Also, don’t be scared to say, “Come back to me” if you realize you’re not ready. We know how hard it is to think quickly when you’re drunk; we’re probably in the same boat.
Strict rule: Always pay in cash. Bartenders don’t get credit tips until weeks later, and they depend on tips to live.
Realistic rule: If a bar doesn’t tip out their employees in full every night, it’s a shitty bar. We get credit tips just as easy as cash tips, so don’t be scared to open a tab. Also, we’re pretty buzzed by the end of the night, and doing math on crumpled bills in the dark is harder than typing into the POS system, so you could be doing us a favor. Pay in credit, pay in cash, pay in gold bars for all I care, as long as you tip well you can use any form of currency you’d like.
Strict rule: We’re not hitting on your boyfriend/girlfriend; we’re paid to be nice to everyone. Don’t get start giving us attitude because of your insecurity.
Realistic rule: We might be hitting on your boyfriend/girlfriend. We can get away with it because “we’re nice to everyone,” and for some reason, being in control of the alcohol adds two points to our attractiveness rating. Hell, you can’t even get mad at your date for flirting back; bartending is a hot profession.
Strict rule: Handle your liquor. If you’re acting too drunk, the bouncers will kick you out.
Realistic rule: We’re a bar, not a church. People come here to get too drunk and do stupid shit. As someone who both works as a bouncer and blacks out regularly, I can see that a middle ground is necessary. Unless you throw up (outside of the bathroom), start a fight, or fall asleep at the bar, we’re not going to kick you out. Last weekend, I witnessed a kid that was so drunk that he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that $5 beers are cheaper than $7 beers. My coworker tried to explain it to him for twenty minutes, and at the end of the conversation, she still served him. Just be able to stand and don’t try and hit us. That’s all we ask.
Strict rule: The bar is for drinks, not your phone. The bar can get messy, so your phone should stay in your pocket.
Realistic rule: It’s your phone; I don’t give a shit what you do with it. As long as you are relatively aware of your surroundings and move it when we put a girl up on the bar to pour shots in your mouths, it should be fine. You’re just going to crack the screen when you drop it out of your Uber on the ride home anyway.
Strict rule: Don’t hit on the bartenders. We’re at work, not trying to speed date with a random drunk.
Realistic rule: By all means, hit on your bartenders. Just know you might get rejected and don’t get creepy about it. So basically, treat us like I hope you would any other human being. I’ve seen my coworkers (both female and male) give out their number to people that asked for it, and I’ve seen them start ignoring people that were bothering them/creeping them out. Also, if you start to get aggressive or handsy, bouncers live for that shit. There’s not many times in life when you get a free pass to throw someone out on their face, so if given the opportunity, we’ll take it.
Strict rule: Don’t get too sloppy with your PDA; no one wants to see that.
Realistic rule: Do it. I want to see it. I’m at work, I’m probably bored, and I definitely want an excuse to make prop bets with my coworkers about you two. Speaking of which, we’re definitely talking about you. We talk about you if you’re attractive, if you’re ugly, if you’re weird, or if you’re nice. We take bets on whether you two are dating or a daughter/dad combo. We talk about horrible pickup lines we hear, and when we’re really bored, we’ll play “Fuck, Marry, Kill” with groups of you. It’s like working at the zoo- if after their shifts, zookeepers went to a late night zoo and jumped into the exhibits. Nailed that metaphor.
Now that you’re all riled up, you have my permission to go out tonight and get wild. And if you’re in the Chicago area – tip well – you may be paying my rent..