Why You Aren’t Getting Served At The Bar


I’ve been a bartender across the country, including New York City, where I saw the best and worst of 4am. We all know that if you want bartenders to be nice, you tip them. Actually, some of you don’t know that. But you should. You’re an adult now. A dollar a drink. At least. Every time. If you don’t, you will likely get less booze in your drinks, slower service, then less service, then no service.

Here are some other reasons you aren’t getting served.

We can hear you. Even in the noisiest bars, bartenders can hear you. Even if you’re not talking directly to us and you’re just joking with your friends. We make our living by being able to decipher sounds and motion in a flurry of louder sounds and bigger motions. We’re like highly-skilled birds of prey. But with access to liquor and garnishes. So remember: If you talk like a jerk, you’ll be treated as one.

We talk to each other. All the bartenders talk to each other. They talk to the bar backs. They talk to the waitresses. If you are rude to anyone who works at the bar, even ones not pouring the drinks, we will know. So treat everyone in the bar with respect.

You think your looks make you more deserving. Yes, in life, attractive people get better treatment. Sorry. That’s just the way it is. And in bars, I admit, that this sometimes/often holds true. But bartenders get hit on a lot. Like a lot a lot. Every night. All the time. If you are a hot girl (or guy) who flaunts their hotness and thinks you should be treated better because of it…? Yes! Again, you got me. Sometimes it works. But often it does not. In fact, many of us think it’s rude. Bartenders also know that those who think they’re hot and “use it”, tip less. Scientific fact. So don’t barge ahead of people thinking your crooked smile and cute butt will make up for it. Hell, go ahead and give it a shot the first round but don’t come crying to me if it doesn’t work.

You think we are friends. Or “bros” or “brahs.” Let me be clear: we are not.

You ask for free drinks. Listen, we know some bars give away free drinks. Thanks for that savvy business advice. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get any. Especially after you have only bought one round and we have shown no interest in talking to you. This isn’t Uno’s Pizza and this isn’t happy hour. (Unless it is. Then I apologize. Here’s your second beer and Chicago-style pizza!)

You tell us that YOU are ALSO a bartender. This drives bartenders crazy and any good bartender, on his or her night off at a busy bar, knows enough to keep their trap shut and let us do our jobs. We don’t believe you and, even if we did, we aren’t brothers-in-arms on Omaha Beach. We aren’t fellow Holocaust survivors. We happen to (maybe) have the same job. Move along.

Sometimes it’s not even you. I have seen plenty of decent people get the cold shoulder just because of the friends they are with that night. We know it’s not always the whole group’s fault and sometimes one bad apple can ruin the whatever. But if your friends are disrupting the bar, or seem like a future source of annoyance, your entire group may suffer.

Or maybe you’re just an asshole.

Best way to get great service? Be nice, like you are a nice person doing business with another nice person. If the bar is busy, know your order before we ask. Don’t whistle us down and, especially on your first drink, tip big. Tipping three dollars on your first beer will get you that second beer faster. We remember bad behavior but remember good behavior even more.

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