We’ve all been in a crowded bar, unsure of the proper way to get the bartender’s attention. We wait in a throng of happy, smiling people already enjoying the house cocktails du jour, fuming. As the seconds tick by, we’re increasingly likely to do something rash. Like waving and calling out “can I get a little service, PLEASE” like a goddamn asshat. And yet still… no love from behind the bar.
Why? Because bartenders haaaaate that overblown, rude behavior. In fact, making a scene is likely to get you ignored for the rest of the night. Bartenders demand respect. Don’t give it and don’t expect good service.
UPROXX is here to help make sure you don’t get ghosted by your local bartenders. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the customer habits that you should avoid at all costs.
Tipping To Demonstrate Power
Cody Henson, beverage director at The Alida in Savannah, Georgia
Living with bad tipping is part of the territory, unfortunately, as what we consider ‘customary’ differs in every region of the world. But what is uncalled for is when a guest uses tipping to demonstrate power over someone just trying to make a living. I’ve heard of people starting a ‘tip cup’ on their table and adding or taking from it based on how they felt the server acted and have overheard people at tables saying: ‘If you want a good tip…’
More often than not, that just signifies that they’re not going to tip well, regardless of what happens. The worst habits, though, are when a guest patronizes the staff, makes inappropriate comments based on sex or race, and asks, ‘So when are you going to get a real job?’ So much of our lives in America involve going out to eat and going to bars, yet there are still so many people who view the people they rely on for food and entertainment as insignificant.
Hjalmar de Boer, food and beverage manager at Conrad New York Midtown in New York City
When I started bartending, I worked in a very busy bar/night club. I would probably make the people who waived $100 bills at me wait the longest. Believe me, smiling and being friendly will get you served way faster than flashing money at me.
Allie Pochodzilo, bartender at The Chester in New York City
Rude guests. I’d almost prefer getting stiffed over dealing with a rude patron. Any guest who tries to touch me, tries reaching behind the bar, refers to me as ‘bartender,’ or complains to me about price, as if that is something that I have control over, is rude in my book.
Mark Syben, bar manager at Buccan in Palm Beach, Florida
There is a fairly long list of bad habits everyone should avoid. But the worst patron habit would be patrons who order the same thing with two separate bartenders, also known as “double orderers”.
Kieran Chavez, beverage director at Boqueria in New York City
Vague requests are the most painful and time-consuming for a bartender. Asking for something “off-menu” but with no direction is like hitting the brakes on the freeway, going 90 miles an hour. “I’d like a cocktail with vodka in it, anything.” Typically we would then follow up to inquire if that guest would prefer something stirred and boozy, or something shaken and more fruit-forward.
The “Whatever is fine. Something Beautiful.” response is tricky for us, too. We don’t just want to mix a drink that is “fine” for someone, rather we want to craft a drink that speaks to their preferences and likes.
Trying To Get Extra Liquor
Steven Staney, general manager of Sombra Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi
In the pantheon of bad habits, one rises above the rest. It’s people trying to get more liquor in drinks than the recipe calls for. A balanced cocktail allows you to taste the flavors of all ingredients.
Bryan Mayer, bartender at Azabu in Miami
Besides bad tipping, overall bad manners and entitlement. Treating your bartender with dignity can go a long way to getting served in a timely manner.
Giving Unsolicited Advice
Natasha DeHart, founder and master blender of BENDT Distilling Company in Lewisville, Texas
Beyond tipping, patrons giving unsolicited advice or being rude (shaking their glass when it’s empty, snapping their fingers or pointing to get attention, physically touching staff, using pet names, ignoring a server who has approached your table) can definitely wear down your team. In general, looking down on, or demeaning service industry members is a real problem. Working in the service industry is already draining, with long hours, most if it on your feet, generally low wages and always being required to put on a good face. When you throw in some rude patrons, bad tippers and demeaning treatment, it can be grueling.
Simply remembering that these folks are humans who have lives, families, and bills — treating them with respect goes a long way.
Interrupting The Bartender
Daniel Sedora, bartender at Time Out Market in Miami
One small thing is the “Hey!” and “Hi!” while the bartender is speaking with another patron. It can be a bit distracting and breaks concentration when you want to ensure you focus on that one patron.
Abraham Millett, head bartender at Plunge Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale. Florida
Probably one of the worst habits a patron can have by far is that fun moment they decide to sign a check as soon as you bring it to the table, tip you 30%, tell you how wonderful you, your drinks, and your service are and quickly leave — but failed to give you the debit card to swipe leaving you to have to pay the tab yourself — powerless moment. At least in theory I made a nice tip.
Smart Phone Addicts
Andrew Lamkin, lead mixologist at The Alex Speakeasy in Washington, DC
I will tell people very quickly that their speakerphone is inappropriate. This also goes for watching videos and other content on full blast in the bar. It is one of the most inconsiderate things you can do in public and you are an inconsiderate annoyance to me for eternity.
Asking For A Heavy Pour
Leah Stumbo, bar manager at Bar Moxy in Nashville
One of the worst habits I’ve seen in my years of experience both as a bartender and in my current position as bar manager is when a patron tells the bartender to ‘pour heavy’ in exchange for a bigger tip. Most of the time they actually end up tipping worse.
Inflated Sense Of Entitlement
Alexander Carlin, beverage director of Infuse Hospitality in Chicago
I think we have to look at the trends we are viewing as a culture and the direction society is heading toward. We are so attached to our screens that we have created personal bubbles from which awareness of our surroundings and other people is not a priority. People are becoming the protagonist, star, and only actor in their own lives at the expense of other people in their vicinity. This creates a culture in which someone has a sense of entitlement over other individuals and when you combine that mentality in a social setting involving alcohol- it can be a recipe for disaster. By nature we want to make everyone happy, not just you, so let me do my job and you do yours by letting me serve you efficiently. Not understanding we have an order in which we do things is also a bad habit. Don’t scream my name at the top of your lungs when I am taking an order for another guest or sit down before I have had a chance to clean the area from the previous guest. We want to create a great experience for everyone and allowing us to let everyone share in that service is a great gift you can give your service professional.