While I try to use The Bar Code to educate, to enrich, and to enhance your drinking experience, this week I ask your pardon as I vent. The truth is, some people have no idea how to act at a bar. I’m not talking about getting belligerent, angry, and projectile vomit-y, though of course that’s plenty annoying. I’m talking about the basics of bar etiquette. After consulting with colleagues, here is a far-from-definitive list of the reasons your bartender (and the customer sitting next to you) might hate you, even if we’d never say so to your face.
You ask for a happy-hour menu at non-happy-hour times. The list of restaurants that serve happy hour at 7:30 on a Saturday night is as follows: _______________.
You ask “What’s on draft?” while standing in front of the taps. Weirdly, that information is provided for you in several spots: the tap handles you’re staring right past and the drink list you haven’t opened.
You put your purse, bag, or coats on another bar seat. Bar stools are for people—people who will drink and eat and tip. Your coat, your shopping bags, and your purse will not. As for using those items to save a seat? For someone who will be arriving imminently, fine. For someone who won’t be showing up for an hour? Not cool.
You ask for a more generous pour. Come on. You are entitled to the drink you ordered, which is a two-ounce shot in most bars. True, we can (and sometimes do) pour stiffer drinks for certain people—usually the ones who treat us well, come in regularly, and tip well.
You refuse to slide down to open up seats. We’ve all seen it: groups of two or three at the bar with “buffer seats” between each group. Hey, I know it’s nice to have some privacy, but those sad little individual seats don’t look too inviting. Buffers are OK when a bar is slow, but if I see a group looking for seats, I will ask you (politely) to move one direction or the other.
You snap your fingers or yell at the bartender. Hey, I get it. You want another drink. Guess what? So do the two people who ordered before you, and the three tables in the restaurant who just sat down and ordered cocktails.
You mistreat the person you’re with. Nothing poisons a bar experience like a couple sitting next to you who won’t stop arguing. Alcohol amplifies moods and lowers inhibitions, and for some friends and lovers that means it’s time to air all that dirty laundry in public. Save that for the therapist.
You try to steal cash out of other people’s check presenters and use it to pay your bar tab. The good news is, most of you are wonderful, lovely people, and many of the rest of you just don’t know any better. The guy who tried to steal cash, though? You deserved exactly what happened to you.
So what bothers you about your fellow bar patrons? Or even (gasp!) bartenders?