Anyone who frequents drinking establishments, no matter how classy, is bound to see some questionable behavior. But given how much time they spend behind the bar, bartenders see the worst of it. We asked bartenders across the country: What's the worst behavior you've ever witnessed at a bar?
'bar behavior' on Serious Eats
If you spend any time at all in bars, you've had an encounter with a bartender who drives you nuts. Maybe they're ignoring all their customers except those two cute girls in cocktail dresses; maybe they raise an eyebrow when you mispronounce a liquor name—maybe it's just their attitude. We asked 18 bartenders what behavior drives them nuts.
Stabbing someone with a salad fork, falling onto a candle, throwing a shot back right into your eye... all probably signs you've had a drink too many. We asked 18 bartenders about a time they realized that they really shouldn't have given someone one last drink. Here's what they had to say.
There's a fine line between being discerning and being picky, but some bar-goers definitely fall on the latter side. We asked 12 bartenders about the pickiest customers they've ever had. Here's what they had to say.
If you start a bar fight, or threaten the cocktail waitress, or pass out in a corner, you can expect to be promptly removed. But what about lesser offenses? We asked 15 bartenders what behavior will get someone kicked out of their drinking establishments. Here's what they had to say.
Bartenders are—pretty much by definition—human beings, thus are subject to the same moods, whims, quirks, and personality disorders that others of our species are known to exhibit. The job requires us to suppress these foibles for the sake of hospitality, pretend we've had the greatest day, and spend the bulk of our night being nice to complete strangers. But some people make it really difficult to keep up the facade.
What makes a good bartender? What about a bad one? What does a good bartender do...and what don't they do? As I train bartenders for my bar, I try to pass along these 20 rules. Do you have any to add?
It's always nice when a customer slaps down an extra $20 at the end of the night, or when that cute girl scribbles her phone number on the coaster and leaves that, too. But tips, both monetary and not-so-monetary, get much crazier than that. We asked 7 bartenders what their best tip ever was, and they range from a Wii to cash from George Clooney to the love of one bartender's life.
They have a saying in photography. Novices obsess about equipment; experts think about light. For those of us in the cocktail game, I would amend the above statement as follows: Novices obsess about technique. Experts think about balance.
Welcome to Ask a Bartender, in which we chat with folks in the industry about what really happens behind the bar. This week: What are bartenders drinking back there?
A few weeks ago, I ducked out of work early to visit my favorite bar. As soon as I opened the door, I knew it was a good idea, calling it weekend at 4 p.m. instead of the regular 6:30 or 7. My favorite bartender was there (his regular Friday night assignment), and there were still seats since it was early. The place has a menu, but you can order whatever you feel like. "Something with Old Tom gin," I said.
Welcome to our new series, Ask a Bartender, in which we chat with folks in the industry about what really happens behind the bar. First up? We ask each bartender about the worst date they've ever seen.
There was a time when I left New York, and left bartending altogether, not certain if I would ever return to either. The months that ensued contain stories for another day, but when I did come back to the city it was pretty clear that the craft and trade of tending bar had once again called my name.
If you're having a bad day when you work in a bar, you don't have the luxury of retreating in to a corner and warning everyone to back off. We work in public, and have our customers' eyes on us at all times. They watch what we do, notice when we bark at one another, comment when we're not performing at our best, and make decisions about where they choose to spend their time and money based on what they see.
A good friend of mine stopped in to see me the other night. It was her first time in the bar and I had not seen her for a very long time. After the initial hugs and how-are-yous, her first comment was, "What, no girls behind the bar?"
Let's say it's early in the shift and your fellow bartender won't be in for another hour. You've got a few people at the bar, and suddenly ten people come in and they all want cocktails, and then the waitress puts in a few tickets. People who have been sitting at the bar already are waiting for another round. You start one order, talk to new customers, pour a couple of beers, and suddenly you realize that everyone is staring at you because they all want something and there's no way you'll be able to get to them until you get caught up. There's a phrase that we use to describe this kind of scenario: being in the weeds. And being in the weeds is never pretty.
When you are young and you work in hospitality, you often date in hospitality. Perhaps it is because of the strange hours of your job, or maybe it's because of the types of people attracted to the industry. I dated within my profession for both the convenience and for the personalities I met. Cooks were fun for nights of video games and standing in the back of smoky bars drinking Budweiser while listening to them perform with a band, waiters for their tortured monologues of how they would one day be famous actors. But my favorites were always bartenders.
Things get complicated when you factor in one of the major tools that bartenders use to connect to their clientele: the buy-back. Buy-back, comp, promo; call it what you will. In every bar, there is a certain budget that allows for giving a customer a drink that they do not have to pay for. For those of us who work behind bars, the buy-back is a double-edged sword.
There has been an interesting comment that that keeps popping up in the threads of these columns. It goes something like this: "I'm sick of the trend where bartenders think that they are god's gift to humanity. Your job is to make drinks, not to educate, babysit, or judge people. So do us all a favor; stow the attitude, and do your job."
Bars are societies writ small, and each has iron-clad regulations governing what will and will not be considered acceptable behavior. At one bar, patrons might be encouraged to dance on the bar and take shots with the bartenders. At others, the slightest exhibition of rowdy behavior might get a guest shown to the door.