Issue 30

Bartending (or Babysitting) After Midnight: What Your Bartender Wants You to Know

Bartending (or Babysitting) After Midnight: What Your Bartender Wants You to Know

It’s Friday night; you and your friends have already had your delicious dinner. Your server was fantastic and you tipped them appropriately – 20% or better. Now what to do? Go home?Yeah, right – it’s Friday and you’re finally free of the cubicle that traps you during the week. It’s time to put your party pants (or dress) on and drink!

You might choose one for your favorite haunts where the bartenders know your name, or perhaps you’ve decided to mix it up and take on the challenge of a new libations room. It’s busy, but you’ve lucked out, there’s a place to sit. You belly up to the bar and wait patiently for the bartender to serve you. As can happen, it’s taking a bit longer than you’d like for the bartender to get to you. It might be the 26 Vegas Bombs that were just ordered, or the five crazy cocktails that have multiple ingredients and – what’s that? A flaming orange peel? Weird. Too bad bartenders don’t have eight arms like the goddess Durga. Everyone would be served much faster. Is there plastic surgery for that?

Finally, there before you, is the bartender asking “what can I get you?”

Well, damn. After all the time you’ve been waiting, taking note of the bartenders with only two arms like normal mortals, the last thing you thought about was what you wanted. You ask yourself quickly “do I just order my usual or do I gaze at the menu for a minute whilst the bartender gazes at me in wonder?” Knowing there are others waiting for drinks also, you do the obvious thing; you order your trite gin and tonic.

Knowing you’re going to be staying around for a few, you decide to open a tab. With card in hand, you make the trade. Your drink is put before you, and your card is taken. Now, while sipping your libation and talking to your friends, you begin looking through the cocktail menu. After all, you can only drink so many gin and tonics before you want to wet your taste buds with something more adventurous.

You notice a boisterous group wander up to the bar. Are they really waving dollar bills at the bartenders? Snapping? Yelling? Knowing how profoundly rude this is you wince in apology for the group you don’t know. The righteously irked bartender gets to them after serving the people that were in line before them. Smiling, she asks the group to see their ID’s. Without batting an eye they all hand over their shiny, new horizontal plastic pictures.

You hear the Boniface exclaim “Happy Birthday!” To which one of the youngsters quickly asks “Do you have, like, birthday shots?”

Shaking her head no with a raised eyebrow, she asks what they’d like. The order starts with six Vegas Bombs – no, wait – make it three Vegas Bombs, three shots of whiskey and four whiskey sours. The nimble bartender whips up the order, dodging co-workers in an intricate dance of body dodges and twirls. Placing the ten glasses in front of the group, she asks “all together?”

The group looks at each other dumbfounded and questioning until they finally figure out who’s paying. “I’m going to pay for two of the V-Bombs, and one of the whiskey sours. He’s going to pay for the whiskeys, and she’s going to pay for the rest.” A fistful of cash and a debit card is given to the, at this point, very patient bartenderess. She rings everyone up, and gives the receipt and change back to the customers with a smile, obviously trying to hide her annoyance.

The group takes their shots, picks up their drinks and walks away, leaving nothing for her hard work.

At this point you’ve savored your gin and tonic to nothingness, and it’s your turn again. The flaming orange peel from earlier has quipped your interest, so you ask the bartender about it. She explains that it uses a house infused coffee tequila, and some other things you’ve never heard of. You like tequila, so you decide to try it. As she’s pouring all the ingredients into a glass, she’s telling a few of the others waiting that she’ll be with them in a second. Shaking your drink she laughs at a joke she over heard about a duck smoking quack… get it?!?

She strains the shaken concoction into a glass in front of you, taking a lighter to a thinly sliced orange peel and sending sparks of orange zest into your drink, you get excited about tasting this treat. Asking for your name again, you tell her so she can add the drink to your tab. Bringing the glass to your lips, you continue the merriment with your friends.

This story is an excellent of what NOT to do when you go into a bar and it’s as busy as all get-out. Play it straight and your chances of getting excellent service and being a ‘smart’ customer go way up. Impress your friends, your date, and your bartender. Here are some tips;


Things your Bartender wants you to know:

  • When in doubt, have your ID ready when you get to the door/bar
  • Know what you’re going to order when you get to the bar. This will make things a lot quicker for everybody.
  • Have your payment (Cash, Credit, etc.) ready when your drinks are served.
  • If you have questions about a product, please ask! We like to be informative, we like to share our knowledge, and we like to talk about alcohol!
  • If it’s busy, it’s going to take a little while to get a drink. We’re working as quickly as we can. We’re not Sonic the Hedgehog. We are only human, and as discussed, we don’t have eight arms, sadly.
  • The minimum wage for serving in Nebraska is $2.13. So yes, we do depend on tips to survive. Take that into consideration when you pay, please! I don’t want to live in a cardboard box down by the river. I like my bed and a non-leaking roof over by head.
  • Right now I know you’re saying, get a better paying job. Guess what? I LOVE my job and without me and my co-industry people, there would be no bars and restaurants. That would make your weekends kind of boring.
  • I’ve never heard of a bar that gives away birthday shots, just so you know.
  • If you’re waiting for a drink, it’s because we’re making one for someone that got to the bar first. We’ll be with you as soon as we can!
  • Waving money, yelling “Hey, Bartender” or any other obvious show of need is annoying and makes us not want to serve you. You might be put towards the end of the “line.” You can call us a soup Nazi, we’re okay with it.
  • If you’re ordering with someone else or a group of people, please, please, please order from the same bartender! This makes everything more efficient. It might not seem that way to you, but trust me.
  • Don’t ask a bartender to “make it strong.” We’re going to give you the appropriate amount of alcohol. If you want it strong, order a double!
  • If you’re going to order five different concoctions, NOTE: it’s going to take a bit longer. Be patient.
  • Craft cocktails have the word craft in them for a reason. They take a minute or two to make, so again, please be patient.
  • Bartenders don’t set the prices. We are minions that do what we’re told. If you have a complaint, talk to a manager.
  • If we cut you off, it’s for a reason – you’re probably drunk. Thank us instead of getting pissed. Your liver will love us the next day. Plus, serving your drunken ass can cause us to get an over-serving ticket. These tickets are both extremely expensive and can cause the bar to be shut down for days. I like my job. I like my job way more than the tip you might give me. So, if I cut you off, deal with it. Drink some water, call a cab and go to sleep. We’d love to see you again.
  • Four things you can’t do in a bar. 1) steal 2) break something (at least not on purpose) 3) vomit (at least try not to. If you really need to, make it to the toilet. NOT A URINAL!) 4) fall asleep. You have a bed, or so I’m assuming. Go home if you’re feeling tired. There’s no shame in tapping out early.
  • If there’s money on the bar and it’s not yours… IT’S STILL NOT YOURS! It’s mine. Leave it where it lies.
  • Know the environment you’re in. Cocktail lounges aren’t going to have UV Cake while a club probably isn’t going to have Talisker. It’s kind of like going to an Indian restaurant and ordering grilled cheese.
  • In case you didn’t know, we’re not in Las Vegas. We don’t have open container laws here. Your drink stays inside. If you want someone to chase after you, have fun being tackled with a drink in your hand on the sidewalk.
  • If you see someone exclusively picking up dishes and washing said dishes, it’s NOT a bartender. Don’t get mad that he/she isn’t serving you, that’s not their job.
  • Just don’t fight. We don’t like fights. If you decide to fight, have fun being barred for a very long time.
Jesse Erickson

Jesse Erickson

I'm the college drop out that ended up falling into a job that I love, which is bartending. I was majoring in English Lit, which is why I love to write. And since I know booze, what better thing to write about? I also have the cutest puppy that has ever existed.

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