Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to the inaugural edition of The Backyard Ramble, the place to be for all of you who enjoy rambling in the Backyard. Today, we're going to tackle a topic near and dear to my heart of hearts: bar etiquette. Unfortunately, bar etiquette seems to be one of those things you gradually pick up as you go along, if you pick it up at all, and violating it can lead to an embarrassing or awkward situation. (For instance, did you know that it is seldom appropriate to whip one's genitalia out onto a bar? True Story!) While 99% of our guests are well-versed in the do's and don'ts of public consumption, the one percent that aren't tend to loom large over the bar's horizon far too often. Therefore, in the interest of saving our guests from an uncomfortable moment, I have compiled a list of the seven deadly sins of bar etiquette that I hope can serve as a crash course in how not to behave in a civilized drinking establishment. (The rules are completely different in an uncivilized drinking establishment, such as a nineteenth century pirate ship...should you find yourself aboard one, the do's and don'ts of drinking will be the least of your worries)
7. You Yell or Whistle to Get the Bartender's Attention
Bartenders are busy, and they will serve you as soon as they can because they make money every time they serve you; yelling, screaming, or whistling to get their attention will only cause them to wait on everyone else they can before waiting on you because you have proven yourself to be an asshole who does not understand the basic virtue of patience.
6. You Complain When the Bartender Checks Your ID
Bartenders can be fined thousands of dollars if they serve someone underage, and they’re certainly not going to risk incurring a fine that severe because you’ve been twenty-one for, like, six months now and grew an ironic mustache over the weekend. Therefore, if you are under 40, expect to be carded. (For some reason, twenty-two year old girls seem to be the most consistent perpetrators of this particular sin, which is odd, because, in two years’ time, most of them will be begging their bartenders to check their IDs while thinking, "I'm still pretty, right?")
5. You Complain About the Cost of a Drink
If you’re drinking on a budget, that’s fine: money is tight, and we’ve all been there…simply ask your bartender what’s cheap, and he will be happy to get you something that will fit your budget. No matter what he answers, though, don’t give him any shit for it: unless he’s the owner, he doesn’t set the prices, and it’s not his fault you can’t afford it. Instead, come back later, when you can afford to be there. (NOTE: It’s much cheaper to drink at home- you’re paying as much for the experience of being out and about as you are for the actual alcohol you consume at a bar) And, whatever you do, don't try to barter with your bartender...it's all well and good that you have $0.79 and a half a cigarette in your pocket, but you still need $2 to buy a PBR.
4. You Order a Single Shot with Multiple Ingredients or Refuse to Open a Tab Multiple Times
In theory, the more a bartender sells, the more money he makes, and when you order, say, a single pineapple upside-down cake shot, which has five ingredients and takes infinitely longer to make than, say, a shot of whiskey, you are slowing him down and costing him money. (Not to mention wasting your own money, considering that a diluted shot like a pineapple upside-down cake is about half as potent as a shot of straight liquor) If you are ordering two or more shots, that’s fine, but, Jesus Christ, if it’s just for you, save yourself some money, save your bartender some time, and order a shot that takes three seconds to make. (If whiskey is not your thing, there are plenty of fine tasting spirits that will kill more of your brain cells in a shorter amount of time, like Blackhaus, Goldschlager, or Rumpleminz, to name a few) Also, if you plan on having more than one round of drinks and will be paying with a credit card, for God’s sake, open a tab. When you open a tab, your bartender can quickly add your drinks to the tab and will only have to close it out once, which can take anywhere from thirty seconds to two minutes, depending upon the speed of his register. If you order one beer and close your credit card out five separate times, you’ve just cost your bartender ten minutes, whereas opening a tab would have only cost him two. It’s inconsiderate, and it slows down service to you and everyone else at the bar…don’t be that guy.
3. You Won't Stop Giving Her "The Rape Eyes"
This next one really only applies to female bartenders as I have yet to meet a male bartender who has minded being hit on, ever. While bartending isn’t easy for either of the sexes, women usually have it worse than men due to an element of sexual harassment that mostly doesn’t exist for male bartenders. Yes, fellas, it’s okay to flirt a little; it’s accepted, and a smile never hurt anyone. Keep in mind, though, that it is her job to pretend to like you, which does not neccessarily mean she actually likes you, especially in a sexual manner (although it does happen, from time to time). If you think you have a shot with her, take your shot, but be respectful enough that it’s not going to be awkward if she turns you down. (More, “Hey, I think you’re great and we should go out some time,” and less, “Your tits are huge…how about a handy in the bathroom?”) If she turns you down by mentioning her boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancée/husband, (who may very well be made up, because she would rather you think she’s unavailable instead of uninterested) take it in stride and accept it, because it’s never gonna happen. Such is life...don’t be the weirdo she has to avoid every happy hour because you never stop staring at her tits: it’s creepy, it’s why you’re still single, and that’s what strip clubs are for.
2. You’re an Asshole When You’re Drunk
Some people get funny when they drink; some people get flirty when they drink; and some people, regrettably, change into huge assholes when they drink. Try not to turn into that third type of person, the rude, self-obsessed, entitled piece of shit who thinks that he is the center of the universe, because it’s awful. You are not the only person in the bar, (unless, of course, you are literally the only person in the bar) and your needs will be serviced as soon as possible, provided you’re not visibly intoxicated, in which case you are not legally allowed to be served anyway. You can tell a lot about a person by how he behaves in the artificial power dynamic of guest-server, and nobody likes the guy who acts like an arrogant prick all the time. Bartenders exist to serve you drinks, not to suck your dick, and you should act accordingly.
While this sin, and the rest of the above, are all terrible in their own right, they can usually be forgiven, provided that a generous tip (in direct proportion to the offense) is the end result; the final sin of bar etiquette, however, is the one unforgivable act that will cause your bartender to hate you for the rest of your days…
1. You Don’t Leave a Tip
The American service industry runs on tips, and, without them, you wouldn’t have anywhere fun to go to spend your money. Even if you’re an asshole giving your bartender the rape eyes while ordering a single shot with multiple ingredients who refuses to open a tab complaining about the cost of a drink and the fact that he had to check your ID after you yelled, “HEY ASSHOLE” to get his attention, you can still be forgiven if you leave a good tip. If, however, you don’t leave a tip, you will be hated by your bartender and his co-workers in a variety of degrees, depending upon the following scenarios:
A. You are obviously broke and can only afford one drink
Your bartender still hates you, but his hatred is mixed with pity, because he too understands the pain of poverty. (It’s why he is bartending) He will let it go as long as you don’t cause any trouble, in which case you will be asked to leave immediately. He doesn’t like you, but he at least understands that your life is probably worse than his.
B. You accidentally ordered something waaaaaay more expensive than you can afford
This one is a little worse, because you acted like money was no concern to you and then nearly shit yourself when your bartender informed you that you owed the bar forty-five dollars for a bottle of beer. Your bartender will hate you for being a cheapskate who can afford a $45 bottle of beer but not a tip, which means that you either do not understand or do not care how tipping works. (Either way, you're a terrible guest) This is still not as bad as the last type of offender, who, sadly, is all-too-common...
C. The Big Shot
You start a tab and buy drinks all night for your friends, and, five minutes after last call, you ask to close your tab, which has reached the sum of $300. Normally, a check that large would receive (at 20%) a $60 tip; you, however, write "$0.00" on the tip line, sign the credit card slip, high-five your buddies, and stumble out of the bar the most hated person of the evening. You clearly have the money to tip: you just don't think the bartender deserves it. And, worse, by buying drinks for your friends all night, you more than likely caused them to assume you had taken care of the tip, which also caused your friends (whom we would like to believe are not as terrible as you), who would have otherwised tipped the staff, not to tip either, creating a ripple effect of economic harm to the people who spent their evening serving you. Congratulations: you're an ignorant piece of shit.
The acronym "T.I.P.S." stands for, "To Insure Proper Service," and, by not leaving a tip, you are foregoing this insurance and running the risk of receiving improper service. Hopefully, this post has informed a few novice drinkers and has prevented an awkward moment or two; for the willfully ignorant who still think committing any of these sins is somehow okay, I leave you with the words of the character Tyler Durden from the immortal Fight Club regarding the service industry:
"We cook your meals. We haul your trash. We connect your calls. We drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us."
See you on the flip side.