Saturday, February 26, 2011

late night bar etiquette - ordering

Quite simply in a loud, incredibly busy environment where there are infinite numbers of people lined up for drinks, your conversation should go something like this:

(the bartender makes eye contact with you and leans in to hear your order, you say)
- bottle of bud light
(the bartender nods, retrieves the bottle, opens it and hands it to you.  you hand the bartender enough money to cover the average bottle of beer - say about $5 or more - the bartender brings you change)

This is a very simple formula.  Perhaps you don't want a bottle of bud light, the sentence you say could be: 2 gin and tonics; 4 jager bombs; 3 pints of keith's; 2 vodka water barlime; a bottle of coorslight and a pint of stella. Anything!  But don't give the bartender a part order then when they come back try to add to it, you've had your turn - pay up!

Please refrain from asking your bartender to tell you how much.  We have not memorized every possible combination of alcohol on the planet and how much it comes to.  Give the bartender enough money to cover your order AND THEY WILL BRING YOU CHANGE!  It is ridiculous to trust what the bartender tells you but not trust them to just bring you the correct change, hand over the money (that you already have out of your wallet before you order).

On that note, have your money ready always.  Don't order and when the bartender returns with your drink you fumble through your pockets for where your drunk self left your money.  And NO, we do not take debit!  We are too busy and debit takes too long, and you'll probably pull your chip card out too early and we'll have to start over again.  Bring a credit card, build credit while you drink, start a tab and DO NOT try to pay that tab at 5 minutes to 2AM.

Do not ask for a generic type of beer that if often offered both in bottle and on draft without clarifying.  It slows the bartender down.  Remember it is very loud and you are drunk so you may not be at your most articulate!  Place the modifier either directly before or after the object in your sentence; "bottle of bud light" OR "bud light bottle" works.  In almost every bar in this town the taps are visible and the bottle types are displayed/listed.  Have a back up product in mind if you don't see it right in front of you.  You can ask for a "pint of bud light" but the bartender might say "we don't have bud light on draft" so you say "coorslight?"

Clever modifications of drink names are not clever!  A sicillian kiss IS NOT a sicillian.  A gin and tonic IS NOT a G&T.  When you ask for a porn star, clarify, is it a shot? a drink?

Also to those of you who have never been to a liquor store, Tequila is more expensive.  Don't be mad at your bartender when 3 shots of Tequila is more than $20, this does not give you licence to not tip.

If you couple these basic concepts with being a decent tipper (as discussed previously) you will be a joy to serve and every time you reach the bar, your bartender will bump you ahead in line.  It really is not hard to get good service, you just have to be an informed customer.


  1. Who ever did this is brilliant!!!! These are the kinds of things people needs to know lol!!!! It's always good to learn proper etiquette!!! But you forgot about, don't yell hey at your bartender or flash money around to get their attention, thinking they'll get to you any sooner lol!!!! Cheers

  2. Great tips....but I can sure think of one bar that none of the above works. WORST SERVICE EVER! Don't even bother starting a tab they cannot keep that straight either!

  3. Thanks for the comments! Don't worry I'll make sure bad servers get blogged about too. And you're right Primmer, waving money at the bartender doesn't help, we're not strippers!

  4. this is good stuff,I am a bartender myself and people make me especially the ones that come in thinking they own the place, but then cant even figure out what they want to drink. or the guy who is standing right in front of the taps and asks "what do you have on tap?" where do they come from? i could go on and on and on.... thank you for this...