How to Get a Drink at a Busy Bar

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 8, 2010 · 179 comments

in Manly Skills, Out on the Town

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from AoM’s resident bartender, Mike Hagan. Mr. Hagan has previously written on classic cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

Drunk Fella: “Hey Chief! Chief!”

My co-worker: “If that guy calls me ‘Chief’ one more time, I’m cutting him off.”

As I write this, I’m sitting at my bar, just off of work on a Friday night. I feel sorry for my co-worker; I’m the one who got Drunk Fella that way.

“Chief!”

What Drunk Fella doesn’t know is that he is being ignored on purpose.

———-

When Mr. McKay asked me to write this article, I had to think about it for a couple weeks. I really had to talk to a lot of bartenders I know to find out what their process is for getting their customers drinks. Do they just start at one end of the bar and work their way down? Does a regular get served before someone they don’t know? Do friends take precedence? Or do they just serve the loudest guy first, in an effort to get him to shut his trap? After talking to a few co-workers and fellow bartenders, I think I’ve got it down to a few key concepts.

1. Always, always, tip.

An elephant never forgets. Neither does a bartender (or waiter, for that matter). If you don’t tip well, or at all, you are automatically on the bottom of the list. And don’t play games with your tipping, either. If you pay cash each round, tip with your change. Don’t pull it all back and then tip at the end of the night. Tipping is expected, no matter how much you think of it as “extra.” If you start a tab, tip when you pay at the end of the night, or when you get your rounds with whatever cash you happen to have. Either will do! Both!

Let’s be honest: if you don’t have money to tip, go to a liquor store, buy your favorites, and watch the game at home. If you don’t have money to tip, you don’t have money to go out in the first place.

Here’s a tip: tip big on the very first round. I have a customer that hands me a $20 bill after he’s paid for his first drink. I take care of him until he leaves. He often gets refills before he’s even done with his last one. I take care of him because he’s taken care of me already, and no matter how busy it is, I always have time for him.

And guys, your phone number is not a tip. Give my female bartenders out there a break.

2. Know what you’re going to order before you start yelling for service.

Hopefully, I’ve gotten there just as your group has approached the bar and I’ve asked you what you’d like to have. If you’re the one who ends up ordering for the group, I understand if you don’t know what everyone wants. That’s why I have no problem waiting for your order if I’ve approached you. But if it’s super busy and you’ve finally gotten me over to take your order, KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. There is nothing worse than hearing you call for service for a few minutes and when I get there, you don’t know what you are ordering. I can’t stress this enough. In the time it takes you to figure out what everyone is drinking, I could have filled two other orders. All that time spent yelling for service should be used for figuring out what your group wants.

Case in point: for some reason, I always end up being the “order guy” for my group. Last time, we had a new person with us and I didn’t know his drink, so I asked him BEFORE we got to the bar. When the bartender came over, I rattled it off to her, she quickly called my price, and I paid her. She took my money, ran to get the drinks, and brought them back with the correct change. The whole thing took 5 minutes. Because I tipped well, the next time, it took 2.

We understand that if we approach you, we’ve caught you off guard and you may not know who needs what. But if you’re yelling, waving your arms, slapping the bar, trying to get our attention, then we get there and you don’t know what you want, understand that we’re a bit unhappy.

3. Chief, Boss, Bro, Scout, Partner, Dude…

The list goes on. Don’t use them. For bartenders they’re the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Now, I know that not all bartenders will call you “sir.” But they should call you something respectable if they don’t know your name. My line is “Sir, can I get you a drink?” and when I deliver, “There you are, sir. My name is Mike if you need anything else.” I expect to be called by my name or sir, or if you’re impolite, I’ll answer to “bartender.” “Chief” especially chills my spine.

The key is not the names, but what they represent: respect. Like it or not, the bartender is in charge of the bar. You are in his territory. Waiters come to YOUR table, but you have entered the bartender’s area. Treat it, and him, with respect, and you’ll both have a good time.

4. Don’t stand at the server station.

If the bar has a station where servers come to pick up drinks, it’s a bad idea to try to stand there to get one. You’ll get mad because the bartender is there 50% of the time, yet he’s ignoring you, and he’ll ignore you because you’re not supposed to be there in the first place, so he’s hoping you’ll get the idea and move.

5. Be a regular.

Find a bar you like. Go there as often as you can. If they serve food and it’s good, eat there on a slow night. Talk to the bartender when he’s not busy. Get to know about him and let him know about you. Create a rapport. When he sees you on a busy night, he’ll make steps to make sure you’re having a good time and getting taken care of. Unless you’re the creepy jerk regular that only tips with phone numbers given to the waitresses!

My Method

I’m lucky because I’m tall. Not NBA tall, but tall enough. I find a hole in the bar chairs that allows me not to reach over someone’s back. I hold my money in my hand, elbow on the bar, hand in the air, facing the bartender. I look at them until they’ve made eye contact. Now they know I’m there. Now I can scan the bar for beautiful women, friends I didn’t know would be there, or check the score of the game. But I keep watching the bartender. When they come over, I rattle off my drink order, and repeat if necessary. Explain drinks if necessary. The money is still in my hand. I say thank you when they bring the drinks back to me. They take the money. I say thank you again when I get my change, and because I know what I’ve already planned on tipping, I give it straight to them, saying thanks for a third time. If I need a helper for my drink load, they’re already there with me, and I start handing drinks back. Then I make my way to the spot where my group is. They next guy who is paying for a round usually ends up just giving me the money and having me do it…or we all just sit there parched while he calls the bartender “Chief” a thousand times…

{ 179 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tuffy April 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Standing at a full 48″ barefoot, I ALWAYS go with the aforementioned Option 1. Like Mike said, and I can attest to innumerable firsthand experiences, tipping generously right off the bat ensures that I’m never overlooked by a bartender or waitress…even on a crowded Friday or Saturday night.

2 Rob Sharpe April 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I’ve also found it helpful to be a to be a tad bit taller than normal.

3 jerry dodson April 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

excellent post. thank you sir…uh, i mean, mike!! really good article and one i hope many people will read, heed and follow.

4 Kellyology April 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm

I heard you speak at the last blogger meet-up, and you talked about how the articles involve a lot of research.

“I really had to talk to a lot of bartenders…” OH I see now. Research…:)

5 scorptraduh April 8, 2010 at 7:11 pm

As a female bartender, the worst for me was whistling for service (Hell will freeze over before you get a drink) and the night some guy kept calling me “toots”..

Great article!

6 Al April 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

That’s interesting – I’ve heard explicitly from many bartenders, two of which were former roommates, “DON’T HOLD MONEY IN YOUR HAND”. They said the people with the worst and/or most impatient attitudes are always the ones holding money in their hand – so they’ve learned not to serve people holding money.

Anyone else?

7 Jordan April 8, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I can totally attest to the authors method. I am by no means tall and never have trouble being served, I am often the first of my friends to get a drink if we go up at the same time. The key is the money out and the eye contact, done and done.

Question for everyone though, lets say I am at a pub ordering beer, not sitting at the bar, what is an appropriate amount to tip? I usually go by the standard 15% if everything is normal, but often I hear of people tipping less beacuse essentially the bartender is just pouring a drink and that’s all (not checking up on you etc.)

8 Scott Fureman April 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

TIP, TIP, TIP!!

A few years ago I started going to a local bar and asked to run a tab, the bartender wanted a credit card as collateral, reasonable enough. Instead I handed her a large bill and told her to keep 20% for herself and cut me off when I spent the remainder. At the end of the night I got my change less her original 20%. She still treats me like a king after 4 years. All of “my” bartenders give me 1st rate service because they know I’ll take care of them as well. I guess it helps that I was in their shoes once, I know the tips are a major part of their income.

9 David April 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

If the bartenders were mostly male, we’d usually send up the girl with the most ample cleavage. Worked like a charm.

10 Nick April 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Being tall myself, I noticed how well it works, when I sit at the bar and watch guys to the left and right of be being served while I wait patiently. The moment I stand up, the bartenders take immediate notice and take care of me right away.

11 1916home April 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

So basically you’re screwed if you are a short female, no cleavage, standing at the server station, frantically waving your $20 and asking for “bro”.

That explains why Ellen DeGeneres never gets served :)

12 joe martin April 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I love the bartenders at my usual haunts but if I get dragged to a bar where the staff is either a.) too busy chatting up the regulars to serve a busy bar or b.) unreasonably impolite despite my patience and manners, I’m buying a single beer, nursing it until I can get out of Dodge, and not tipping. I don’t particularly like to pay a gratuity on being treated like an inconvenience. Oh, also, if I order a drink that calls for roughly one ounce of $9 a bottle whiskey and some cola and you ask me for $8…yeah. Last drink I’m ordering here and if you don’t get paid well enough to not need the tip I’m not giving you, your boss is a miser if I’ve ever seen one.

13 Aaron April 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

@1916home: I think she just did!

14 Stephen April 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm

It’s hard to get the tone for this topic right – it boils down to “I have power over you that I can exercise however I like, so tip well and respect me and I’ll be good to you.” You need be pretty diplomatic to not come off like Don Corleone with that message. Fundamentally, how you get a drink at a bar is you walk up to the bar shaped thing, place your order and pay an appropriate amount of money when it arrives. In the process you exercise basic life skills like trying not to be a dick to the person serving you etc. The rest of it is just gubbins on top.

It’s worth considering it from the other perspective – if you’re a shorter guy and you watch the women with large breasts and the tall guys getting served before you even though you were there first it can really spoil the mood. People have an intrinsic sense of fairness for these things. It can be (though not always, of course) that the fact the tip’s small has some connection to the, say, 30 minute wait for one light beer. After a point that’s not really them being stingy, that’s not earning a tip.

It’s worth it for bar tenders if their queue order retains an appearance of fairness, you don’t need to have an eidetic memory and serve everyone in exactly the order they arrived but it helps if people who are there for a while don’t feel frustrated. If you see someone’s been waiting at the bar quietly for a while watching other people being served before them they may not be totally happy about that. That doesn’t mean that you can’t put jerks off, obviously, but it’s worth remembering that short people can tip too.

15 Stephen April 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Supplemental: I would add that Mike has got the tone for this pretty well on. My Don Corleone comment refers to other posts on this topic that I’ve read elsewhere that manage to convey the underlying message of “If you don’t tip at least 50% I will spit in your drink”

16 lawdog April 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Lately I’ve found that many of the bartenders are so stupid, they place the drink on the bar, take my money, give me back the change and turn their back and walk away without waiting to be tipped. I don’t like leaving a tip on a crowded bar or an empty bar either, unless the bartender acknowledges me giving him or her a tip in the first place, otherwise tipping is a waste of time. When I went out in Miami Beach to packed restaurants with my uncle and family members, the first thing my uncle did when the waiter came over to hand us the menus, was give him a $20 to start things off. You would be amazed at the service you get after that, no matter how crowded the restaurant is!

17 kirk April 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I have found the best way is getting the bartender’s name and using it. Everyone likes to hear their name called. If they are used to hearing bro, or buddy all night they would love to hear their name. It works more times than anything else. Also when you thank them for the drinks, thank them with their name. You get the drinks a lot faster.

18 Kevin April 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Tip.

It’s that easy.

Buy 3 drinks at first for you and friends, tip $20, then tip whatever feels good afterwords. Yes, you may be paying a few more bucks for your drinks than everyone else, but you’re not standing at the bar pissing away 20 minutes of idle time either.

I travel constantly, and try to stay at the same places. They seem genuinely pleased to see me, i always tip well, and I damn sure never wait for a drink, regardless of bar crowd.

Tipping is the answer. it is that simple…

But that’s just me…

KB

19 Chelito April 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Standing at 5’1, and without much cleavage I can attest to being ignored at bars for the bustier women. I have also worked as a bartender and I once had a guy repeatedly try to get my to bend over in front of him. He went so far as to throw his tip on the floor. That’s when he was told to leave.

Please, be nice to your servers and bartenders.

20 Andy K April 8, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Is it OK to tip something like the $20 (or $10, for college students? :-P ), and then just tip “normally” at 15%-20%?

21 cerement April 9, 2010 at 12:42 am

And when you follow Mike’s advice and the bartenders still ignore you, and still ignore you, and still ignore you? Bartending, when all is said and done, is still a service industry and when I’ve stood there for half an hour, cash ready, drink order ready, not saying a word, and you continue to look straight through me, my patience starts wearing thin and your tip starts disappearing. Tips are a reward for services rendered, and are handed over AFTER the service has been rendered. If you need a bribe just to perform your job, then you can rest easy in the knowledge that that is the last you will ever see of me and my money and you will never have to worry about ever seeing any of my friends or their money.

22 Ben April 9, 2010 at 2:08 am

It’s interesting the difference this highlights between American bars and British ones. I worked for many years in British ones (being a Brit!) and the rules are a little different over here.

Forget the bribery tipping, although it won’t hurt, you will get looked at oddly. Pick your place at the bar, maintain eye contact with the barstaff, don’t shout or wave money around. British bar staff are usual trained in a particular way. They will work a patch of bar, generally 2-3 metres wide. In the patch they will know the order that everyone came to the bar. And they will serve you in that order. Often if it’s busy, they can lose track of the order and might commit the fatal mistake of asking”who’s next?”. Fatal anyway for one of my staff, as they’ll get a rollocking. Anyway, in this circumstance, it’s your responsibility to point out to them who was the next person to be served. Yes you can be selfish and just give your order, but they’ll know and so will those around you that that’s what you did.

With regard to tipping, over here, tip if you get good service. It’s not expected but it’s nice to receive. The done thing is, when handing over the money to tell the barstaff to “take one for themselves” or “have a drink from the change”. They’ll use their discretion as to how much is appropriate for the establishment and the level of business. It will usually just be the price of their favourite drink rounded up.

Oh, and a final thing, when you’ve been served, leave the bar. In busy bars over here we don’t drink at the bar because it lessens the amount of room for those waiting to be served. Unless the bar is obviously set up to drink at with stools anway, but even then it’s regarded as a little rude.

23 Andrew April 9, 2010 at 3:31 am

Totally disagree with part of your method. Most bartenders around get pissed off with people with their arms in the air…. now Im not sure if you meant with your money in that raised hand. But if it is then, yea I totally disagree with you. Most bartenders will think your a douche waving your dollars around.

My method.. yes height helps… all I do is stand at the bar…with both of my hands gripping the top of the bar… 4 fingers each.. arms out stiff and a little bowed so I take up a heap of room exactly where I stand. I make eye contact, and I wait.

I appear 99% different then all the other knuckleheads at the bar waving hands, and bouncing around. I am firm..with eye contact. And it gets the job done… remarkably fast.

24 Greg April 9, 2010 at 5:50 am

What Ben said above regarding UK bars is spot on. I’d add try not to spit in the face of your bartender when you order, it’s easy to do when you’re drunk and in a loud club, but if you’re that drunk you don’t need another drink.

Also regarding the “patch” at the bar, try not to get stuck between 2 patches or you’ll find each bartender will skip you thinking you’re on the others’ patch!

Eye contact and a smile, say thank you; look them in the eyes when you do this so they remember your face and associate it with the feeling of being appreciated.

25 George April 9, 2010 at 7:04 am

Solid advice, but I’m outraged by the amounts of money talked about in here. $20? Isn’t that the equivalent of 2 or 3 drinks? How big is your order? Or your income.

Cerement expressed my thoughts exactly, except for the “half an hour part”. Half an hour?! I’ve gone out to spend time with my buddies, not to spend it waiting at the bar. If it ever happens that 20 minutes passed and I’ve been overlooked, I’m on my way out to some other place.
Being overlooked for such a long time can only be attributed to a lack of respect.
Because even myself, who checks every symptom of ADD, can spot a person standing in the same place for over 15 minutes. If a bartender cannot, maybe bartending is not for him/her.

Quoting from Mike’s article “So you want my job”:
“Remember, the bartender is human. He will make mistakes.”
And so is the customer. He’s not a money making machine, and there are a million reasons why he can’t afford or does not want to give a big tip. The size of the tip is not a reason to make someone wait like a dog for a drink.

26 mike April 9, 2010 at 7:16 am

Another addendum to Ben’s stella description of British bars. Kate Fox a social anthropologist wrote a book with a good description of the “social rules” in English bars (“Watching the English”). It’s like a queue that pretends it isn’t. But if you pretend you’re not in the “queue” too well and act too nonchalantly it is assumed you’re quite happy and not waiting to be served. I always try to treat my bartender with respect and am disgusted when I see others bad behaviour. I just try to keep in mind that exhausted feeling at the end of a night when you’ve swept and mopped up the mess on top of the work you’ve done on shift (tips only go so far).

27 Chuck April 9, 2010 at 7:41 am

I will add one, for places that are “bar and grill” type situations. I always make a point of tipping the bartender, even if I start at the bar and have the tab transferred to the table when we get one. If I ask to transfer the tab, I leave some cash on the table- even if I don’t have enough cash to pay for the drinks, I usually have enough for a tip in my pocket, and I leave it for the bartender when I go to the table.

28 Greg April 9, 2010 at 8:22 am

I usually have soda water (which is free) when I am at a bar…I tip a dollar per fill-up. More if I have real drinks. i also use “Please” and “Thank you.” And if the place is busy, relax once I have made contact with the bartender. Oh, and I treat the female bartenders the way i would expect someone to treat my wife if she were tending bar.

As for the bartenders on a power trip, who are rude, or ignore customers, leave. I am always puzzled when I am in a place with someone and they make a comment like “The bartenders here are always rude\slow\screw-ups. Unless you live in a one-bar town, find another place.

Finally, being a regular a place or two is key. Get a reputation as a good customer and a good tipper, and the staff will make life great. Benefits at places where I was a regular; free drinks, my favorite drink sitting on the bar between the time I walk in the front door and take my seat, ordering a full meal at the bar when the dining room is full, being allowed to run home and get my wallet when I already had a sizable tab (no police or washing dishes).

29 sean April 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

I find that at a bar its a two way street. If the bartender is rude or give excessive attitude they can expect little or no tip. I live in Boston and there are so many people and bars that I am not going to hand over undeserved money to a bartender on a power trip. I have worked in the bar industry (while in college) myself and there is no shortage of people that think because they work at a bar they are high and mighty. I work on the golden rule principle and a good bartender who treats me how I would expect to be treated will get the same in return with a nice tip on top.

30 g April 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

Um, tip the change from a $20 on the first drink? So even assuming a premium $7, that’s a 185% tip ($13).

Nice work promoting ridiculous tips, Mr. Bartender Man. I don’t think so. How about you just do your job and get my drink?

31 Mr. Pink April 9, 2010 at 10:18 am

Good article as far as respecting those serving you and not being a dick. But it represents a trend I’ve seen in others about going out. This tipping business has gone crazy. What is it now, waitstaff want 20% to adjust for inflation? It used to be 10%, then 15%, and as a percentage doesn’t it already “adjust?”
As far as going out to a noisy, crowded bar for the privilege of paying a minimum of three times the cost of a drink, only to now have it suggested that I must further bribe the pourer the cost of a bottle, no thanks.
For the cost of one person going out drinking you could afford to have your friends over and provide them with drinks and food. You might can hear them, and you won’t be driving around. Hopefully your guests will be more appreciative than if you’d merely been the one demonstrating you know how to get a bartender to serve you.

32 Alex April 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

I think the biggest misunderstanding in America about tipping is that most people think that service workers (bartenders/ servers) make at least minimum wage and the tip is on top of that. I know that in the state of Colorado a waitress or bartender will make between 2.50-3 dollars an hour paid by the restaurant. They are expected to make up the other 4-5 dollars to reach minimum wage in tips. Now if they dont make it up in tips the owner is required to pay the difference. So literally many service workers rely on tips to eat. If you are too cheap or too much of a jerk to tip properly then stay home, microwave a meal and have some franzia.

33 Mike April 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

G, I think you misread. Tip from the change of the $20, not ALL the change of the $20.

And the waving around bit, I do not do. The article says holding the money in the hand with the elbow on the bar. It says nothing about waving the money around. I just like the bar staff to know I have my cash ready. I know many a bartender who will put off serving someone who wants to run their stupid debit card for $3 every single time they get a drink.

34 Brucifer April 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I must agree with Cerement. There is a distinct difference between a tip for good service that has been rendered – - and money offered upfront as essentially, a bribe for any service at all. To a true gentleman, bribery is vulgar, to say the least. And the bartender who comports himself in such an unprofessional manner is no gentleman deserving of being called “Sir.” I too, would also take my business elsewhere.

35 Al April 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed this article! Very well done, indeed. Your method is essentially the same as mine and it works like a charm.

Those talking about a “bribe” have missed the point. You do not say that those who do not bribe do not get served, simply that handing over your tip at the beginning of the night instead of the end will get you better service, because the bartender already knows that you’re a tipper and won’t be stiffing him. Perfectly reasonable and legit.

36 Bernie April 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I don’t wave money in my hand, but I’ve had no problems with that method of just waiting until you make eye contact, giving sort of a two-fingered taxi-hail, and getting my orders off. I always thought the cash-waving thing was a bit dramatic.

“Look at my cash! Feed me booze!”

37 kylep April 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I never have trouble being waited on, am a young guy shortish at 5’6 but am a regular at one local place. My first time in the joint one dude kept yelling the bar tenders name.
“Casey”. . . “Casey”
Casey he was making drinks facing me hadnt yet served me
As this buffoon keeps yelling his name i say to Casey
” Poor planning on your part does not make for an emergency on my part” referring to the buffoon
He looks up stops mixing says “wise words young man. . . what are you drinking?”
I never wait long and Casey is a cool dude has hooked me up on occasion and i dont tip extravagantly 15% but if im in the money good just got a commission note than 20% but thats only on occasion. Casey takes care of me not cause i tip better cause i showed him i “get it” that lots of people are jerks but am not one of em.

38 JesperH April 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Great article!
And I´d also like to add:

*Stand at a spot that you know the bartender will frequently go to, i.e. the register.
*Keep your orders simple on a busy night. In a packed bar, the last thing the bartender needs is “One Singapore Sling, two Mojitos, five B52s and I´d like a cocktail, can´t remember it´s name, but it was pink and I got it in a bar in Tokyo.”.
*Say hello to the bartender when you enter, say good bye when you leave. Go home when the bar closes.
*@Al: I agree. Don´t wave money at the bartender. He/she´s (in most cases) not a stripper.
*Always, ALWAYS, tip! The bartender WILL notice, and you WILL get the extra privileges.

39 Mike April 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I never said anything about waving money around. Though having your cash in hand tells me that you’re ready to pay, get your drinks, and move away from the bar so someone else can have a chance at getting a drink.

40 FingerSoup April 10, 2010 at 8:47 am

It’s all about politeness. Treat the bartender like a person. And a first-timer big tip will let you get away with smaller ones with change later in the evening… If you do decide to pay the $20 at the beginning of the night, a bartender will remember the gesture… Then if it’s 10%-12% at times in the night, because you’re drinking and 15% is too tricky to figure out in your head, then your 165% tip at the beginning of the night balances out a bit, and becomes a 20% tip for the night. As long as you remain polite in your drunkenness, people will understand. It also helps, if your going back to the bar again, to give a bigger tip at the end, so that you show your appreciation, and hopefully people remember you the next time.

41 George April 10, 2010 at 9:23 am

I still have to understand why the tip has to be 15-20% of the value of the order.

42 rich April 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I have always found what works best for me is having cash in hand, hand slightly turned and extended, not saying anything but making good eye contact every time the bartender is around, and looking like i am about to say something so that they know I am ready to order .

Then I normally order something in a bottle that they can get quick. I don’t tip big because grabbing a bottle is not mixing a drink. But the bartenders know they can take care of me in quickly. A good bartender knows low tips but high volume is just as good as low volume high tips.

My best friend is a bartender. He always goes for the people he knows will just get bottles and pay in cash because he can fly through orders and at a dollar a round he is banking.

43 The Baltimore Chop April 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I find it helps to drink the same thing all night. It’s much easier to just ask for “one more” than something entirely new.

44 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm

a great thing is to have a local that you always go to and then get to know the barstaff. We do it with a guy caleld Paul and we get served so quick even when it’s hammered.

45 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

the tip about calling him sir is a graet one. We know a bartender at a local and visit their regularly and he serves us so quick. Get to know them! They are people after all.

46 Michael J. Austin April 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Reply back to my email account …
“The story you Dugg, How_to_Get_a_Drink_at_a_Busy_Bar,
has become popular, and your Digg helped it get there. See who else
dugg and commented on this story by clicking on the story title. Thanks!”

47 Arthur Dent April 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm

This article sums up everything I hate about bars. I think I’ll take that trip to the liquor store now…

48 Peter April 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

You know, I’ve seen a lot of articles about “how to get good service at a bar” (or anything along those lines), but up until now I’ve found them all to be misinforming, mainly reciting personal peccadilloes which the writer has because he/she has been tending bar for six months and just doesn’t like how she’s treated (by staff or customer), but it doesn’t concisely nail down what it takes while at the same time explaining the reason for it. Your use of “respect” in this article is what has been lacking in the things I’ve read before.

I do hope more people who go out on regular or semi-regular basis get a chance to read this and take it in. I, like you, often become the one ordering the drinks for the group when I’m not out with my friends who also happen to tend bar.

I would, however, bring up one point with regard to your “method”. When you mention that you have money in hand, I would stress that your money is your hand so you can streamline paying for your order, not so you can wave it around trying to get the bartenders attention. In the same way “Chief, Bro, Etc…” are nails on the chalkboard for you, I’ve always found the waving of the money (or tapping of the credit card) in a passive-aggressive way to get the bartenders attention even worse.

But, that’s me. Thanks again for the article Great read.

49 David April 10, 2010 at 8:32 pm

10-4, Mike.

50 A Person April 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I’m so glad tipping is not a custom here in Finland. Our bartenders and waiters/waitresses get _paid_, so I don’t have to think I’m being rude by not paying more than the bill says.

51 pragmatic April 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Mike, you’re job is to serve drinks to my customers which pays your damn salary, you’re taking money out of my pockets.. YOU’RE FIRED! *your boss*

52 FingerSoup April 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

@ George – 15% is North American “customary” tipping…. 20% is always considered a “Good” tip under normal circumstances. Of course, if you have a particularly difficult job for the person you are tipping, it makes more sense to tip more, to make it worth their while. For instance, if you are tipping someone for food and drink, then 15% is fine, but if you order several items that are not on the menu, make special requests to have items delivered (birthday cake, sneaking an engagement ring to the table) then don’t be cheap, and give the person a little extra.

In terms of cost, Tipping amounts change with the economy, and in some places, tips account for up to 100% of a person’s wages (If this sounds horrible, don’t work at a bar in Virginia)… In the 80′s, 10-15% was customary… Due to changes in laws that allow tips to offset minimum wage, lack of raising minimum wage, and potentially increased responsibility (stricter food safety guidelines, managing POS machines, etc), 15% became the new standard.

53 Michael K April 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I think “I hold my money in my hand, elbow on the bar, hand in the air, facing the bartender.” is referring to what I jokingly called the “power lean” one night when I bet my friends on drinks that I could get a drink within 2 minutes of walking up to the bar at our favorite place when the crowd was four rows deep. Simply put, lean against the edge of the bar, resting on your elbow you money in that hand. Make eye contact and give the bartender a little subdued wave when they are looking your direction. Granted I’m well over 6 feet tall and I always tip generously (to my bartenders that is. I choose them by choosing my bars, so I choose the good ones.) but I won that bet.

54 Heywood Jablome April 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I usually wears a t-shirt that says “who’d I gotta [edited] ’round her to get a drink?” That tends to work like a charm when the bar be crowded. I also find throwing the peanuts at the bar tenda like Juliet throwing pebbles at windas in one of ‘em plays by that English fella’ gets der attention.

Heywood Jablome (American)

55 Octane April 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm
56 trekker April 10, 2010 at 9:10 pm

The author is suggesting to give a bribe to get a service the customer already pays for.
That sounds backwards. Moreover, if respect AND money is what I wanted bartending is not my profession of choice…

57 Bubba April 10, 2010 at 9:45 pm

You’ve confirmed my anecdotal experience, my motto is “Tip heavy and tip often”

58 Chip April 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm

The comments on this topic seem to be all over the map so I’ll keep mine simple.

I don’t keep a lot of cash on me so I have to Run a Tab when I’m out. I offer my card as collateral even if not asked, it seems the thing to do. What I do, however, is make sure I can tip in cash when I do finally close the tab. I don’t know how most bars keep up with sales and tips and whatnot, nor do I really care, but what I do know is the Bartenders can walk away with cash in their pocket at the end of my drinking.

I may not get ‘stellar service’ on my first visit to a bar, but I have found that I get remembered and the service is better each time I return to that particular bar.

And I always remain the gentleman and use please and thank you and that seems to help to. Whomever is behind the bar, and whatever they are or aren’t getting paid, is secondary to the fact that they are also human beings who deserve the same professional respect I offer to anyone else I am working with or for.

59 sally sue April 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Bartenders should just do their jobs and treat everyone the same way. If they don’t want us to stand in a certain area, they should let us know that. We are not psychic. It’s no different than ordering a drink at Starbucks. Just do your damn job, if you don’t like it, find another job.

60 Bill Savary April 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

$20 tip, then 15% every drink after that on already grossly overpriced drinks… yep, that’s why my friends and I spend our social time in our basements and yards and sheds and at local parties and so on. Withy mortgages and young children we prefer to pay bills that let our families continue to live reasonabley and to put money away for college, etc. That downtown bar scene is too rich for my taste.

61 Ty April 10, 2010 at 10:26 pm

These comments regarding “excessive” tipping are ridiculous. You are right in a sense, you are not obligated to tip, or even tip big. But the reality is that your other option is to drink at home. The bartender does a job that is different from other service industry gigs. This is the top of the industry because not many people can do this well in high-volume, or themed establishments. You can certainly say things like, “How about you just do your job and get me a drink,” but then you can go drink your crystal palace in the parking lot with the rest of the bums. Who is really the person with the ridiculous sense of entitlement here? The person who performs well, under incredible pressure? Or the jackass who thinks that his hard earned money is worth more than that of someone else?

62 Arclight April 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I’m with Arthur. We’ll pour our own freakin’ booze, and it won’t be watered down, and served by pretentious lackeys that feel they deserve to get paid *before* they do any work. A *tip* is a reward for good service, not a payoff to insure that service happens in the first place.

63 the future April 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm

This is great! I’ve made a few of these mistakes myself :X

64 John April 10, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I’m going to concur with Arty Dent right about now. The question to me is how much do you value service. For instance, you could easily get amazing service if you were tipping $1000 a drink. Again, there’s no doubt that if you tip 135% on your first drink and then 10% thereafter, you might get better service than someone who is only tipping 15% everytime. The question is what is the value of this strategy. I tend to put the value of saving 5 minutes for a drink at a bar at 1 dollar per drink and so I’m disinclined to tip more than that, though I could perfectly understand why someone richer than I would value their 5 minutes enough so that they would be willing to pay sufficiently more to avoid waiting. However, the rich person would also need to signal to the bartender sufficiently that they will be tipping that much in the future. The problem is that there is no one-to-one connection between better service and a two dollar or three dollar tip, rather than a one dollar tip. Maybe a 5 dollar tip per drink would get better service, but outside of that or higher values, I don’t see much advantage to higher tips. I, for one, would much rather go to a bar that is less busy and tip 1 dollar a drink than need to tip 2 or 3 dollars a drink in order to save 10 minutes waiting at a busier bar.

I consider the above a perfectly legitimate argument, but I also think that when you pay a 200-300% premium for the privilege for drinking at a bar, even a 1 dollar a drink tip is a bit too much. The ONLY reason I tip bartenders is to save time. I do not tip because I think these beer jockeys and beer maidens deserve it. I don’t care how little their base wages are, how little bar owners pay them, or how much work it took to set up the bar that night. Cry me a fucking river and while you’re at it get another job if you think you’re working so damn hard.

65 Hank Fox April 11, 2010 at 12:19 am

Okay, the part of this article where you talk about tipping … it really sounds like a not-too-subtle form of blackmail. I tip, usually generously, but if I get the feeling that I’m being played by the bartender for a tip, not only will there be no tip, I won’t ever come back to the bar.

I tended bar for ONE night, and I hated it so much I never did it again, so I get it that people drinking can be assholes, but some of this advice sounds a little manipulative.

Finally, I’m not one of the tall ones. Your elbow on the bar holding money won’t work for me. And honestly, I’ve been in bars many, many times where the bartender ignored me so long I had to resort to waving and yelling “Hey!” A few times, it was humiliating.

Heh, this one’s funny now, but it wasn’t at the time: One time early in my drinking career, I ordered a Tom Collins, just because it was something I was familiar with. The bartender carded me, even though I was almost 30, and looked it. I asked him why the carding and he said “Because a Tom Collins is a kid’s drink.” If there was ever a fuck-you-you’re-nothing-to-me, that was it.

How about if I write an article about the different ways bartenders suck, and how they SHOULD treat customers?

Actually, I’ve mostly liked my bartenders over the years, and I get along pretty well with all of ‘em. A few nights ago I was out of town, drinking with friends. The only open spot at the bar for ordering was down at one end, and I couldn’t see the beer list. I said “I’d like a beer. Something interesting, and something YOU think I’d like.”

I never found out what it was, but I liked what he gave me, and I left a good tip.

66 Joe Monahan April 11, 2010 at 1:02 am

Just an add on to the last section “My Method”: I do the same method and have found if you’re holding a twenty, you’re far more likely to get attention than holding up something small like a five. A twenty says you’re probably going to order a round instead of one drink, and that means a bigger tip.

I also do this even if I’m ordering a water which they will probably give to you for free. In that case when they put up their hand to say “no I don’t want to take your 20 and make change for a $1 water”, I follow up with a “Oh, thanks, hold on…” and have a dollar or two in my other hand to give them as a tip. You’ll win over a bartender easily by tipping on non-alcoholic drinks, which sets you and friends up very well.

67 Bartender McGoo April 11, 2010 at 1:27 am

I love, love, LOVE when these articles pop up on Digg or elsewhere on the intertubes. It always boils down to two arguments – 1. Tips will GET you good service, or 2. You get tips FOR your good service.
To everyone who thinks #2, hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Let’s not forget that this entire article is about a *crowded* bar. If you want to be served again after your first round, and would prefer to be served quickly, a generous tip is the ONLY way this will happen. If you don’t tip me well after that first round, you’re better off finding another bartender or, better yet, a whole other bar, because you won’t be seeing me again. And complain to my manager if you like, he’s heard it all before. Trust me, he values my skills, speed, and professionalism more than he values your business.

68 marcoalwaysfitz April 11, 2010 at 2:20 am

Hi,
Great article!
The funny thing is, considering the whole bribe/reward discussion with regards to tipping, is that tipping used to come before, not after the order was made. When tipping was first introduced, there used to be a jar, or can at the bar marked T.I.P.S. which meant, “To Insure Prompt Service”. Funnily enough, the English were the first to practice this method, where nowadays tipping is hardly practiced at all.

69 The Best April 11, 2010 at 3:59 am

Tips for people.

When you are a stranger in a strange land, order ONLY bottled beer. If the Bartender has a name tag, LOOK AT IT and use it. If it costs $3.00 for one beer, pay $5.00. After you tip likethis 3-6 times, maybe maybe switch up to booze, but only if it not packed. If it is packed, stick with beer.

70 James Laughlin April 11, 2010 at 4:25 am

Tipping is the biggest mug’s game going (from the English point of view anyway). That’s why I’m grateful that it isn’t expected 99.9% of the time over here. You’re already paying the staff’s wages through the mark-up on whatever it is you buy, so why should you be expected to make an extra contribution?
The staff are paid to do a job through their wages, why should I pay them again for a job that they’re expected to do in the first place? Yes, if they go above and beyond their job description (helping me choose a wine etc.,) then yes, I will gladly add a little more to the bill when the time comes. However, the growing expectation that you must tip to ensure service is wrong.
I spend a lot of time in Germany and the American attitude, unfortunately, is becoming all too apparent whereby a tip is expected and a poor tip/lack of tip can have serious consequences for the rest of the evening.
Don’t tip, it only encourages them.

71 Michael April 11, 2010 at 6:26 am

The people who aren’t willing to tip are the people who don’t care about what they are drinking. I’ve worked in bars and restaurants long enough to learn that. The frat boy drinking Bud Light all night is not going to tip. The hipster drinking Stella is not going to tip. Those dorky guys hiding in the corner? You know, the ones that have been seriously discussing beer and booze all night? They are going to tip more and require less service.

If you respect your bartender’s ability to craft a cocktail or to competently select and pour a brew or wine for you, you should be willing to tip generously. If you just expect the bartender to act like your personal bottle opener, don’t expect good service. Bartenders like to feel appreciated, just like everyone else.

72 Jonathan Krull April 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

So tipping is a contentious subject. I do have a question for consideration though.

I was at the bar the other day, out with some friends. There were two groups of people (4-6 people in each group) who were there for a considerable amount of time. A friend and I were sitting at the bar, and I kept watching people from these groups coming up and ordering say, 4 beers and a couple of cocktails or mixed drinks. They’d pay, take all their change and not leave any tip. This didn’t happen just once, it was every time these groups of people would order. I can understand tipping from your change when it’s just you ordering a beer (if it’s a 1.50 bottle beer, at least leave your 50 cents.) But when you’re ordering multiple drinks for a large group, I think you should at least leave some kind of tip. So finally I turned to one gentleman as he was about to pocket his change and asked my friend “does no one tip these days?” He got the point, and threw down a couple of dollars. He mumbled something about “I tipped on the last round.” I knew that to be false because I had been watching, and the bartender confirmed it when she brought me my next drink.

Was I being a jerk?

73 FingerSoup April 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

Wikipedia has a great article on tipping….

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_%28gratuity%29

The fact is, is that tipping in North America has become the norm… You can fight society, but you WILL lose. Because Tipping has even been put in law books, and minimum wage reduced as a result, Tipping is here to stay, until there is some sort of revolution…

My argument is that Tipping is BOTH a reward for good service, as well as a way to get good service. I will not tip someone who is rude, or someone who has ignored me for a night. If the service makes me feel insulted because the service is so poor, I’ll pay via credit/debit, and leave the pennies in my wallet on the table. In Canada, I’ve seen people tip with “Canadian Tire Money” for insultingly bad service. Think of it as tipping with a hardware store coupon only worth a nickel. It’s really insulting, but if the service has been THAT bad – Rude staff, poor timing, and mixed up orders with no offer to compensate huge mistakes (or someone who scrapes mustard off a sandwich at the table, instead of replacing the sandwich entirely), then there’s NO problem with letting the waitress know. And of course, if the service is so bad, then you WON’T be going back to that establishment….

74 Randonius April 11, 2010 at 9:26 am

People are starving to death and dying of dehydration and you’re complaining that people don’t give you the respect your minimum-wage job apparently calls for? You are paid, tipping isn’t necessary unless you go above and beyond the expectations of a bartender. Grow up, dude.

75 Joe April 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

Good tips, be aware that the tipping thing is only really important in America. You can get great service most other countrie without bribing the bartender to do their job ;)

76 Cannibal Shogun April 11, 2010 at 9:41 am

nice one. at the bar i worked however you’d get more than ignored for standing in the service bar. wait staff at my bar was not shy about being rude to people who stepped outside their boundaries, especially on a busy football saturday.

and to anyone who wants to argue tipping, just do the entire service industry a favor and stop going to bars and restaurants with wait staff, you don’t deserve it. in the US tipping is not a “reward” it is payment for a service, if the service is provided payment is expected.

77 ianfb April 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

Enough already, going to a bar is supposed to be a good experience and not a life test where your wealth, generosity, height and technique are on test. Its really time that American bars paid their staff properly so that their guests can enjoy themselves. Just put the prices at the appropriate amount, stop tipping and lets all get on with our lives.

78 stefan April 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

first off i am a profesional bartender in NC USA. Guests at the bar should calm, polite and nice.No screaming bros cheifs dawgs. I don’t go to your job and yell at you!
find a way for me to remember you in a positive way wether it be a big tip or some common courtesy. I will remember you and take care of you. If you are disrespectful or rude I will also remember you and you will be the last person I take care of..
P.S stay out of the Service well!!!!!!!! the servers are trying to make a living and you are not more important than everyone else in the bar.

79 Vivenne April 11, 2010 at 10:35 am

I am a very short, older, (and gosh, I hate to say unattractive :>), smiling, assertive, and usually polite woman, and I couldn’t could waited on at a bar to save my life. My daughter is young, attractive, fashionable, very petite, socially savvy, etc and SHE cannot get waited on at a bar. Cash in hand? Hasn’t worked. Eye contact? Hasn’t worked. Using names? Nope. We stand at bars and watch person after person come up beside up us, order, pay, and leave.

I think there is simply some magic involved.

Two tips to bartenders: One has been mentioned–if you want your tip, stay to get it. I am reluctant to leave cash on an unattended stretch of bar.

Two, If I give you a twenty dollar bill, give me back a five and five ones–and not a ten– if you can.

80 toddlorensinclair April 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

I agree its a tougher situation to tip a bartender … when you’re buying by the drink … as opposed to tipping a waitress at the end of the evening on the final check. Many busy places won’t “run a tab” at the bar.

I’ve worked at a bar before and low tippers and non tippers are just a part of the business … but its outweighed by the regular and over tippers … its hard work but most everyone usually heads home with a couple .. or several hundred dollars at the end of the night … that’s very good money in anybody’s book. Anyone who gets bent out of shape over the size of a tip shouldn’t be in that business.

81 hammer April 11, 2010 at 10:49 am

How about u bartenders do your job and serve your customers. Why do I need special rules to folow when u are serving me? I am your customer not the other way around. I treat all bartenders with respect but sometimes one of you dumbasses needs to hear a “hey!” or “beer here” after i have been waiting for 5 min for a drink. stop your complaining and do your job. If i were to act like you at my job i would no longer have one.

82 likesemsmall April 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

Chelito, You would have my complete attention.

83 johnny red April 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

It’s funny how entitled these bartenders feel to a fat tip. If you need being taken care find a retirement centre for yourself. Your employer should be responsible with paying your salary not the customers so if you’ve got any beef I suggest you find a way to take it up with them. The concept that I have to wait until some bartender becomes available then drop $20 to ‘take care of him’ is ridiculous. Let’s face it if one does not afford/doesn’t want to tip your entitled ass for tilting a bottle over they should still go to whatever establishment they want. You can follow your own advice and consume your favourite drinks at home. One more thing if your change to my money amounts to a series of $5 bills … keep dreaming…

84 OldSchoolBartender April 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

Having tended bar for 16 years, the author is correct.

This article is about a BUSY bar or nightclub, which apparently a lot of people are not understanding. If this is your corner bar on Wednesday night, it’s a different situation. Imagine a busy nightclub in Vegas, LA, or NY.

As a bartender, when I am out at a busy club, I have always used the author’s method of getting my first round, and service thereafter. Hold a $20 in the hand, elbow on the bar. Don’t wave, snap, or whistle. Order my drink, hand over the bill, say “Thank you, keep the change.” My service is superb for the rest of my evening.

If you cannot afford to tip, stay at home. People that don’t tip, or tip with coins, will wait an extraordinarily long amount of time for their second round. Where are you people drinking that you tip $1 a round? Hell, a martini will cost $7-$15 alone.

85 1664 April 11, 2010 at 11:49 am

pouring me a pint is your damn job as a bartender. i tip according to how ridiculous the mark up is at the bar. if i paid cover to get in, and then you tell me a pint is $9, then i won’t tip you a f***ing thing. if however there is no cover to get in, and a pint is $6.50, sure i’ll tip a reasonable amount (like a dollar at MOST!, and that’s assuming the bartender has a personality, and hopefully some charisma).

there are no rules to tipping. anyone who drops $20 as a preliminary tip is a douche, and the only reason the bartender continues to serve you quickly throughout the night is precisely to do with the fact that he/she has spotted the chump at the bar who read this ridiculous advice. you’re probably also the guy who slipped the bouncer $20 to skip the line. they know you’re a wannabe high roller with something to prove to make up for your tiny dick, and they are going to milk you for the remainder of the night.

i was at a bar in manhattan one night and was chatting to the bartender. she told me she takes home $600 a night on weekends. it was from that moment on that i realised this tipping thing is out of control. no one who pours drinks for a living should make $600 a night doing so.

tip what feels right, and most importantly tip in relation the the mark up at the bar, and of course the quality of service. anyone who tells you otherwise works in the service industry.

86 Sean April 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

“I’m so glad tipping is not a custom here in Finland. Our bartenders and waiters/waitresses get _paid_, so I don’t have to think I’m being rude by not paying more than the bill says.”

Yeah its the same in Ireland and the UK . Easiest way to get served is to use common sense and be friendly. And someone else mentioned about standing at the bar in British pubs – I agree, just don’t do it – get out of there.

87 Chris Taylor April 11, 2010 at 11:57 am

This tipping business is driving me nuts.

Tipping is NOT required and Tipping should NEVER BE required. NOW a note first. I tip and I tip well because I CHOSE TO.

the idea that tipped employee’s can be paid less than minimum wage because they are tipped is disgusting and NEEDS TO STOP. its THEFT. its pure and simple THEFT.

when you say if you get tipped $6 this hour so I only have to pay you $2 to make your $8 pay that is THEFT. you just “stole” the “gift” that customer just gave that server and said ok thats part of your pay.

That is nothing but pure simply THEFT.

a TIP IS NOT PAY. a tip is my “gift” to a server for a job well done. (note historically tips used to come FIRST)

The concept that its EXPECTED is disgusting and its CRIMINAL to count it as pay so you can pay “less” that is nothing but STEALING. its pure and simple theft.

If I see a sign that says mandatory gratuity I LEAVE and I make sure to let them know WHY I am leaving. Who the frell are you to tell me “I HAVE TO TIP” man that drives me nuts.

Bar tending is a bit different. Tipping first sets the tone for you as a customer and in that kind of environment IF your a tipper it does make sense though it really is a “bribe” but hey thats the environment as long as no ones nasty just flow with it.

88 Alan Clifford April 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Strewth, you call this service? And you give extra money on top of the price of the goods? What planet do you live on?

Alan

89 Chuck April 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

The level of arrogance in some of the bartender’s posts is hard to believe.
Let’s say you come to a doctor’s office, just to have him come out and pick out people from the waiting room based on the size of their wallet, whether or not they’re “buddies”, or if they are cute and showing cleavage. And then expect a wad of cash from you if he were to actually treat your illness.

The irony here, is that the bars are supposed to be a place for people to relax. Instead they are being treated like cattle. And the bartenders are the primadonnas of these establishments – expecting bribes and ass-kissing to do their job.

I won’t tip $20 for a guy to poor me three beers. Calling that a “fair compensation for honest work” is complete bull.

90 Conejo Malvado April 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

This is the problem in America today: No one will do their job without expecting something extra. The fact that one needs to stroke you with cash for you to do your job says more about your own personal ethics than anything else.

91 Eric April 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm

to 1664 – I hope that’s just you trying to incite an argument because thats some of the stupidest reasoning I’ve ever heard. Cover and 9 dollar drinks too much? Then why the hell would you go there? Its not the bartenders fault so I don’t see why you would take it out on them?

I agree that tipping is not compulsory but neither is serving you on a busy night – Remember its a BUSY night that this article is talking about. There are plenty of people waiting on a busy night – and I am going to try to maximize my tips for the night.

To the people that tip poorly because it took so long to get to you the first time, thats a great way to get crap service the next time around. Does it suck that this is how it is? Yes – but in a busy nightclub the bartender is just go go go and doesn’t have time to remember how long you were waiting for. We remember two kinds of customers – good tippers and bad tippers. If you tipped well and still get crap service – I recommend trying a different bartender.

Just my two cents

92 Henry April 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Gawd, so much whining about this post!

As someone else mentioned, I think people are missing the fact that we’re talking about a busy bar here. There’s no single file line where the bartender can very fairly take each person in the order they came up. It’s chaotic, and who to wait on is chaotic. So these tips are for upping your chances of being served more quickly.

The busy bar is like a microcosm of life-if you’ve got more money and you’re willing to spend it, you get better service. Maybe it’s no “fair” but that’s the way it is. Everyone is whining about having to tip, but isn’t it the same when you’re buying a first class ticket instead of coach, or shopping at a classy supermarket instead of wal-mart, or having a premium health care plan instead of Medicare? The “tip,” the extra cost is built into the price. Money buys you better things. So instead of whining you losers, go start making some money.

93 TooManyCluelessPeople April 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Wow. Epic Fail. Not on the author’s part, but on a large percentage of commenters.

This article is not about entitlement, gratuities, bribery, how much money bartenders make, service industry issues, cheap people, or wanna be high rollers. This isn’t about the bartender being an ass, or you being too cheap to tip, or you are from another country and don’t understand tipping. Tipping is lubrication between a patron and a service employee who has a certain amount of control how your evening will turn out.

It’s about how do you want to spend your evening in a busy bar. Thirsty and impatient, or able to enjoy your night out with friends. you can get bottle service at a table and really pay a fortune, or you can get fast service from a busy bartender who will remember you when you come back for the next round.

Do you understand why that couple in the restaurant is sitting with the great view by the window, and you and your wife are near the restrooms? That couple at the end of the bar has full drinks all night long with a friendly bartender, and your glass of pink wine/pint of crap beer still sits empty while you cannot even get eye contact.

It not about the tip. It’s about a small token of appreciation that will help ensure that you have a pleasant evening with your friends and family.

94 Rick April 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Before I go to a bar I make sure all the cash I want to spend is in ones, fives and tens. When I get my order I pay with exact change counting a 15 to 20% tip. Drink order is $7.35 for two beers? Hand a ten, nod my head and say thanks and walk away. Next time I walk up I get attention, they get the same thing as the first time. They take my order, I get my drinks, they get the money (no change coming), NEXT!

95 Arun Basil Lal April 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I have never been to a bar yet. Seriously, this is insanely awesome. Only cuz Mike wrote it. :)

96 Rick April 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Those who say things like, “it’s just pouring a drink, get a real job” haven’t been on their feet for a 10 hour shift pouring and correctly mixing as many as 20 drinks a minute. I also find if I’m patient at first and tip well and thank them, my drinks often are a little stronger instead of getting weaker. As to Mr. IT cable runner, yeah, do that extra cabling service for $45 an hour or so, then stiff your bartender.

97 James S April 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Having been all over the world, and drinking being my sport of choice, I find that the very best way is to determine the type of bartender you are dealing with. Uppity tenders may require the aforementioned bribery tip. Down to earth tenders I often tip normally but throw in some joke about them wanting to get out of the place. Read your bartender and change your style to fit them, because lets face it, while you have the power to leave, you never really want to exercise it. But of all the places I hate the most, it’s vegas style exclusive clubs, I can manage, but unless you have a table with a minimum bottle order of $300+, lots of the time you get ignored no matter what.

98 charlie April 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Not to sound like a re-hash from Reservoir Dogs, BUT… This whole tipping business is retarded. Europe doesn’t tip… somehow they get along. So if throughout the night while I’m buying overpriced drinks… I’m supposed to tip EVERYTIME a bartender goes to the spigot and pours me a beer?! It’s retarded and everyone of those greedy fucks from the bartender to the owner walks out with a shitload of cash every night.

My advice for all you guys and gals out there is to always start a tab. That way you can give a normal 15 percent at the end of the night. I always give less because you work a small fraction as hard per drink than a waiter would have to work per table.

The whole thing is stupid. Ten percent at the end of the night is already retarded… you make a drink or pour a beer… it takes three friggin seconds.

99 Paul April 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I don’t tip a percentage – I’ll never figure it out after a few drinks. If the drink is $8, I’d leave $2. On the first round, I don’t go crazy, just $5 does the trick for me. Not 5 singles, a $5 bill.

And you shouldn’t have to explain your drink. A bottle of beer or a classic cocktail doesn’t need an explanation. If you’re ordering beer – wave the empty so you don’t have to shout. Don’t start inventing mixed drinks in a busy bar. When the crowd starts getting rowdy I switch to beers and straight shots.

100 Joshua April 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I’ve got a method that at least works for me.
1) Look half decent- I’ve had many bartender friends that say when a customer looks clean and dressed neatly they tend to get served first because they look as if they will get a better tip from them. So leave the sweat pants at home.
2) Be very polite- I always greet my bartender with the utmost respect and a smile. They have a tough job and they will remember the person that treated them with respect before the fool screaming for another round of tequila shots. This has worked for men and women bartenders.
3) If you pay in cash [this seems to be the preferred method in bars where I am from] have the money loosely in hand. I tend to have cash in about $5 bills and I go to the bar with the bills held between the middle and index finger. This gives a non-verbal signal to the bartender as if to say “This is yours”. I like to be upfront that I will tip and tip generously. As the article said, if you are not going to tip then why are you going out in the first place.

As always, I love this site and thank you for the article.

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