Bar Ettiquite Do's And Don'ts, According To Bartenders

Bar Ettiquite Do’s And Don’ts, According To Bartenders

You might want to study up on these before ordering your next cocktail.

Like dining out in a restaurant or riding the subway car, drinking in a cocktail bar is governed by some unspoken etiquette. So I combed through the subreddit r/bartenders and the Community for some intel. Here are some behaviors that really annoy bartenders, plus some other unsaid “rules” they wish all customers would start following.


“Ordering a mocktail. I’m always happy to make you one. Order a Shirley Temple if you don’t drink or if you’re nervous about drinking too much. I’ll make you a custom mocktail with an ingredient you love. You don’t have to tell me that you don’t drink or give me any explanation. If you come into the bar and ask for a non-alcoholic cocktail, I’ll make you something special and discreet so you don’t have to explain to anyone why you’re not drinking. Bartenders are here to provide great drinks that are more special than what you can make at home, and that doesn’t need to involve alcohol.”


“Complaining about the bar’s beer/liquor/wine selection. I do not do the ordering, and no matter what I say or how many times I say it, sometimes my bar manager refuses to order certain things (which is just as frustrating for me as it is for the customer, trust me).”


“Being scared to order ‘girly’ drinks. If you want that pink, tropical martini with the umbrella in it, please just order it. I’ve literally had customers ask me to make them one of those specialty cocktails, but in a ‘manly’ glass so they don’t look ‘girly.’ So silly. No one cares what you’re drinking. And those umbrellas are fun, damnit.”

Paramount Pictures Studio


“Tipping well. Don’t tell me to ‘hook you up’ on the first drink I’m making you. If you hook me up with a generous tip, we can go from there. In other words, big tips go a long way.”


“When someone orders a strawberry daiquiri, followed by the demand, ‘and make sure I can taste the alcohol in it!’ That’s how you get a strawberry daiquiri made with scotch, folks.”


“Sending back a drink for not being strong enough. I, the bartender, know exactly how much I poured in your drink. You got 2.25 ounces of spirits. If your face doesn’t scrunch up in disgust, that’s because it’s a damn cocktail and it’s supposed to taste good.”


“Sit at the bar patiently, make eye contact with the bartender who’s around you, and smile. A warm smile is very welcoming in the chaos, and a bartender is more than likely to come to you before serving the assholes whistling, waving their cash, and slamming the bar. You can’t expect five-second service on a busy night, but be patient, smile, and say pleases and thank you. When you’re ready for your second drink, they’ll remember you, too.”


“Asking for free drinks/shots. Yes, you still have to pay for your drinks…even if it’s your birthday. Sorry, bud.”


“Customers making assumptions about my career, ambition, and drive for life because I am a bartender. Or, even more frustrating, when people ask, ‘what’s your real job?‘”


“I don’t mind making you a drink that ‘takes a lot of work’ or is time-consuming. In fact, I’ll happily make whatever drink you want. Just be patient and understand you may need to wait a few minutes.”


“Customers trying to haggle. I don’t own the bar, I’m just working at it, and I’m not in any position to give you discounts without taking it from my tips.”

Paramount Pictures Studio


“Getting mad when we ask to see ID. It’s the law. We’ll get fired if we don’t do it. And getting mad about it only makes us more suspicious that you might be underage.”


“Assuming I know how to make every drink you’ve come across on Pinterest. I don’t mind making complex drinks, but if you ask for some vague drink like ‘mermaid water’ you saw on the internet and don’t know the recipe, I can’t make it for you. And I’m not going to search for it while the bar is packed.”


“Making piña coladas or other blended, frozen drinks. They are annoying to make, and once one person orders one everyone else seems to follow. I get it: frozen drinks are incredible, but when the bar is overflowing with people, it’s definitely nice when customers take note and order something quicker and easier.”


“Ordering a drink that doesn’t match the vibe of the bar you’re at. If you’re at a dive bar, don’t order an espresso martini. You’re going to look like an asshole.”


“Closing your tab and then returning for multiple drinks. If you’re going to have more than one drink, open a tab. When everyone in the bar is opening and closing for each individual order, it slows down service for everyone in the bar, including you. I’m not asking you to open a tab to try to scam you into buying more. I’m asking so we can all be more efficient and I can better serve you and others.”


“When you aren’t specific about your order. Don’t just say ‘I’ll have a martini.’ Tell me how you want your martini: Gin or vodka? Preferred brand? Shaken or stirred? Wet, dry, or dirty? Up or on the rocks? With an olive or twist? I don’t want to have to ask you six questions for your one drink, so the more specific you are the better. For example, say ‘I’ll have a wet Botanist martini, stirred, up, with three blue cheese olives, please and thank you.’


“Asking for weird substitutions or unusual cocktails that you made up. Please trust that a Michelada with the lager substituted for a sour pale ale is going to taste awful. Save the experiments for your home bar, please.”


“When customers ask for light ice in their cocktail and still expect the drink to be filled to the brim. Everything is measured out. We’re serving liquor, not fountain soda.”


“When a customer says ‘make me whatever you feel like’… If you say this, I’m pouring you a whiskey neat. Seriously, never be this indecisive or vague to a bartender. It’s not helpful. Just order what you want or if you’re not sure, ask for a suggestion based on a flavor profile that you like.”


“Whenever a customer says, ‘Surprise me!’ This pisses me off to the end.”


“People waving their hands while waiting for a drink, especially while holding money. We know very well that you are thirsty and that you are going to pay for a drink — that’s why you’re at a bar.”


“People who ask for a stronger drink and are surprised when I charge you extra for it. If you want more alcohol drink, expect to pay more for it. If you ask for a double, it’s going to cost more.”


“People who order a round of drinks one by one. As a bartender, this is infuriating and wastes so much time. Bartenders can remember multiple orders at once…in fact, we’re pretty good at it. Give us your whole order for a round of drinks at once.”


“Customers who try to stick around when the bar is closing. When the lights come on, please for the love of God go home. I still have at least an hour of cleaning to do and I can’t start while you’re slowly sipping on that cocktail that you just had to buy five minutes before close.”

Have you worked as a bartender? Tell us what you wish customers would stop doing (and what you wish they’d do more often).