Friday, May 27, 2011

late night bar etiquette - the waiting game

Patience is a virtue, one that is uncommonly exercised by bar patrons when it gets busy.  I encourage all of you who like to go out and 'tie one on' to learn a little, it will get you ahead a lot farther than shouting rudely and waving money at the bar staff.

First, to avoid being the object of the bartenders' loathing just bear in mind that we really are working hard (and fast) to get you drinks.  This is a bartender's main goal.  It's good for everyone, the bartender makes money, the establishment makes money and you get to go ahead and get shitfaced.  Everybody wins right?

To help reduce your own personal wait time please refer back to my previous posts on ordering and tipping.

Be patient with the bartenders!  Don't think you're smart and spout off about how long you have been waiting; How for some reason, out of all the individuals waiting for a drink, you deserve to be first.  We have a system, and we're getting to you.  In fact, you might be your own downfall, at a busy bar you must be diligent while waiting!  Don't turn to have a chit-chat with your friends or a quick make-out with your girlfriend/boyfriend because in that moment, as Murphy's law would dictate, the bartender will come over and try to make eye contact, if you are otherwise distracted, well, too bad!  You are no longer a customer who has been waiting a long time, you are back to the bottom of the lineup, now you must wait until the bartender has helped those in line ahead of you - which is now everyone else.

Sucks doesn't it?

But it's not the bartender's fault, though you feel slighted; If we waited until you were done your conversation/make-out we would be wasting valuable time that could be otherwise spent serving someone who is paying attention and also waiting.

Also, be prepared.  If you're planning to order for the group of people surrounding you, KNOW WHAT THEY WANT!  Do not wait until the bartender stops then turn and ask everyone what they're planning to have, if you're not ready to order, you're not really waiting are you?

To help further reduce the length of time you'll have to wait: have your money ready.  No, this does not mean you wave a 20 dollar bill at the bartender, catcalling like he/she is some kind of stripper.  What it means is you have you wallet out of your pocket/purse and you have your dirty little fingers on the money - before you order!  It saves us a trip, we can take your money in advance and bring change and the drinks at the same time!  This allows us to make sure you don't have to wait as long.  Rocket surgery, I know.


  1. Ok....normally I concur with everything (well, most) you say, BUT this post smarts of the customer having to obey rules when really he/she just wants a damn drink. If I am being polite instead of yelling and the bartender does not pay attention to any kind of system but serves all the people they know repeatedly...then what??? If I enjoy a night out with friends and I've been ignored by the bartender for 15 minutes and I happen to turn to one of my friends to say something, then.....I am outta luck and don't get a drink? I am polite, tip well, wait patiently and generally understand the plight of the server/bartender. This, however, does not mean I have to sit there waiting, and waiting, and waiting while someone randomly picks people to get drinks (and sorry, chew, sometimes it is random because the bartender isn't good enough to have a cohesive system). Being a bartender, especially late night, would be trying at the best of times. However, I'm there to spend money as well as have a good time, not to be a damn inconvenience

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