Aren’t bartenders great? They have funky haircuts and mad tatts, and they give you drinks when you ask for them. They’re also, generally, a friendly bunch, with the exception of a few gnarly jocks who are too cool for school.
That affable, polite demeanour should not be used and abused, however. They’re real human people, believe it or not, and deserve to be treated with a bit of Aretha Franklin.
We spoke to Hannah Bolt from Brisbane’s Statler and Waldorf who is a straight-up weapon of a bartender, and always extremely well mannered, but who sometimes just feels a bit like AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR DAT when sauced-up customers behave downright rudely at the bar.
Here are seven traits she suggests you avoid if you want to stay in your bartender’s good books.
The Birthday Beggar
The person who comes straight up to the bar and yelps,“It’s my birthday!”
“Happy birthday!” shouts the bartender, which is not the response birthday person was looking for.
“Where’s my free drink??” Ah, there it is.
You wouldn’t walk into Coles and shout “It’s my birthday!” and expect them to give you a free packet of Pizza Shapes, so don’t demand freebies from the bar. If you’re nice and they figure out it’s your birthday, a complimentary shot may appear at some stage of the evening, but it’s certainly not your right as an earth citizen just because you’ve completed another lap of the sun.
The Sticky-Fingered Spider Monkey
The area over the edge of the bar is most definitely the bartenders’ personal space, and you violating it is the equivalent of some random coming and picking the olives out of your martini because they feel like a snack.
Never lean over the bar to grab a straw, an olive, or a slice of lemon. Don’t snack on the condiments. It’s communal foodstuff and you touching it is icky.
It’s not widely known but, according to the law, if you stick your hand over the bar they’re actually allowed to cut it off with a meat cleaver and they won’t even get in trouble for it, for realz.
“There are certain people who make the automatic assumption that I’ve made a bad decision in my life,” says Hannah.
“Like the reason I’m bartending is because I’ve made a wrong turn at some point and I deserve pity for it.”
Some cats like working in pubs and clubs. So it’s not cool to talk to your friendly barkeep in the same condescending way you would a special-needs Labrador, or to say to them, “Hey, you’re actually pretty smart, how did you end up here?”
Folks should really have realised by now that it’s not kosher to hit on the bar staff, right? But we all know how it is, you’ve gone out with the objective of meeting people, and you start to get a bit maggot after your fourth white wine spritzer, and the only person who hasn’t refused to talk to you all night is the bartender, so why not give it a crack?
There are two problems with the “let’s have an impromptu date” scenario for the bartender. One, they are sober and are not sure of your level of intoxication, so it’s not really a compliment that you’re hitting on them, and two, they are trapped where they are, can’t get away from you and are forced to be professional and polite. Even though you think you’re being as charming as George Clooney, there’s a very high probability you’re not.
Hannah cites a recent example:
“This guy comes in and says, “I’ve got three words for you: peanut butter and your ass”.”
“Firstly, you can’t count, and secondly, wrong viscosity bro.”
This is a customer who, rather than engaging in civil conversation with the bartender as you would with anyone else, instead thinks it’s okay to simply grunt nouns at them.
When asked how his day was, he will reply, “Beer.”
Are those potato wedges hitting the spot? “Whiskey.”
Or just, “Toilet.” Is that a question? Would you like to know where the toilet is? You need help going to the toilet? You’ve already gone “toilet” and need to be cleaned up? Use your words, folks!
You’re standing at a busy bar and have been waiting for 5—10 minutes to be served. Now it’s your turn, it’s your moment to shine and… you haven’t decided what you want yet. WAGH, WAGH, WAGHHH.
You stand there umming and ahhing as everyone else who’s waiting thinks about inventive ways to kill you.
In the same category are people who don’t have their money or card out ready to go, then seem surprised that they would be asked to engage in a financial transaction upon completion of their order.
Also, Hannah says bartenders can remember up to 24 drinks in one order, so ask for everything at once instead of waiting till they come back with your beer before saying, “Oh, and another beer please”.
The Russell Crowe
With countless stories of general rudeness, the trick seems to be this: just don’t be an asshole.
Don’t answer your phone halfway through placing an order and start chatting. Or act annoyed that someone is interrupting your loud conversation at the bar to ask what you’d like to drink, while people wait in line behind you. Don’t wave your money about. Don’t tell the bartender to surprise you with a cocktail then complain that you don’t like it. Don’t whinge about the cost of the 12% craft beer you just ordered, they aren’t the ones who set the prices.
If in doubt, think about how Russell Crowe would act in your situation and do the exact opposite.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List