You spend more time with your bartender than you do with your family; you should have a better relationship with him/her than the one you have with the people who drove you to hang out in bars all the time.Â To help, we asked a bunch of ‘tenders for advice on how to become exceptional at being a regular.
Order simple when things get hectic
Even if the bartender designed the cocktail menu, heâ€™ll be grateful if you ask for a beer or whiskey instead of an 8-ingredient masterpiece.
Handle your people when they get out of hand
If someone you brought in starts instigating fights, grabbing asses, etc, get them to stop, or get them to leave. Donâ€™t wait for the bartender or bouncer to step in. Their first moveâ€™s gonna be to ask you to handle it, because youâ€™re in a better position to calm your boy with words instead of judo.
Offer your bartender the right shot, for the right reasons
The right attitudeâ€™s â€śI know youâ€™re working, but itâ€™d be awesome if you joined usâ€ť, not â€śScrew your job, hop on our party train!â€ť. Also, offer them their preferred shot, not yours; and remember that a shot is never a substitute for a tip.
Perfect the Casual Half-Raise
Itâ€™s not universally accepted yet, but there might be a way to get a bartenderâ€™s attention without being a jerk. This open-palm, one-raised-finger, half-mast gesture says in the most undemanding way possible, â€śIâ€™m here when youâ€™re readyâ€ť. Itâ€™s so good!
Err towards cash, but don’t sweat credit
Cash is king because you take tips home that night instead of 1-2 weeks later, and theyâ€™re (shhâ€¦) not taxed. BUT: Bartenders get that this is a plastic world; youâ€™re not losing cred by using credit, but tip a bit more anyway, because credit cards arenâ€™t real money.
Keep your bartender company on slow nights
Do talk about: sports, music, movies, drinking, embarrassing sex stories, â€śancient aliensâ€ť.
Don’tÂ talk about: politics, religion, how much money bartenders make, sex stories where youâ€™re really good at sex.
Don’t freak your bartender out on slow nights
If you’re a creepy stalker, just be low-maintenance about it. Bartenders of both sexes know theyâ€™ll have admirers. If they think â€śI can live with this creepâ€ť instead of â€śIâ€™m calling the cops on this creepâ€ť, youâ€™re winning (relatively).
Be respectful even when you feel youâ€™ve been horribly wronged
Bad-tasting beer is rarely the bartender’s fault, and regardless he’ll comp you a replacement — happily so if you’re cool. If you got the wrong cocktail, you might have ordered wrong, especially if you ordered for a group. If you got the right cocktail but think it was made wrong, remember that bartenders dip a straw for a taste before serving. If the drinkâ€™s truly off, theyâ€™ll catch it.
Bus your table, mind your chairÂ
If you ordered at the bar, bring your empties back. If thereâ€™s table service but the barbackâ€™s overwhelmed (sure sign: the bartenders are frantically washing glasses), lending a hand is a â€śveteran moveâ€ť. Pushing in your chair to keep service lanes clear is a subtle assist, but the guy not tripping over your chair will notice.
Streamline every interaction so the bartender never has to ask additional questions:
Always say â€śCan I start a tab?â€ť or â€śCan I close this out?â€ť when handing over a card.
Lay out specific ingredients, in the order the drinkâ€™s constructed: â€śGrey Goose & cranberry with extra limesâ€ť vs â€śCranberry & vodkaâ€¦ can I get more limes?â€ť.
With multiple drinks, flag down the bartender only when your entire orderâ€™s ready.
Tell him how much change you want; it saves a step, and now he knows it was you who tipped $3 on a $7 drink, and not the Tip Fairy.
Tip like a boss, or at least senior management
$2 per drink is solid; $3 is more than solid. 30% on an end-of-evening bill gets you remembered that night; 50% gets you remembered every night. For buybacks, 50% of whatever the drink would’ve cost works, though even at 100% you’re still saving cash.
For a â€śThis is for you, please take care of meâ€ť bonus, 50-100% of that crucial first round’s total works, followed up by $2-$3 per round to keep the goodwill flowing. But if things get hectic, donâ€™t remind the bartender of your generosity — itâ€™s a fine line between rewarding you and shafting everybody else.
Make “a shot and a beer” your regular order
“Makes me smile, every time.” — every bartender in the world
Let the bartender determine when youâ€™ve earned â€śregularâ€ť status…
You canâ€™t force things by introducing him to your friends on your second visit or commiserating about how terrible the other customers are. If you do, like, half of the above stuff, seven visits (not including weekends!) ought to do it.
… and to keep that status, be discreetÂ
If you have an â€śawesome guyâ€ť discount, donâ€™t put 10 friends on your tab. If you get to order after last call, this quote pretty much sums it up: â€śLast call is like corralling a bunch of toddlers at nap time. Everybody is hurting each othersâ€™ feelings, hitting each other, wetting themselves, etc. The last thing that needs to happen is for them to see the one kid still playing with the toy that they all want.â€ť