With its welcoming vibe and (seemingly) unlimited booze, it’s kind of hard to not grow addicted to hanging out at the bar. After all, it’s the place where we can unwind after a long day at work, bond with close friends, and celebrate special occasions. But for a hangout location that takes up such a huge chunk of our time, we seem to know very little about how things actually work – especially when it comes to ordering drinks. For instance, does it make a difference if we ask for less ice? And do bartenders really mean it when they say that they’re “out of mint” and can’t make our mojitos?
Of course, most bartenders won’t spill the deets about these things. But there are many who did share quite a few surprising (and gross) secrets that every single barfly ought to know.
So before you go on your next bar visit, check out this list of things your bartender isn’t telling you.
1. The glasses you drink from aren’t always that clean.
You’d be surprised at all the bartenders who can’t clean or store their glasses properly. They’re supposed to be washed in hot water with dish soap, air dried, and stored upside down to prevent dust from collecting. So if you ever spot a bartender using a filthy rag or towel to clean their glasses, then that’s already a bad sign. Also, keep in mind that food fat, lipstick, and chapstick residue are usually harder to clean off completely. So it wouldn’t hurt to quickly check your glass before you take that first sip.
2. Those drink garnishes usually aren’t fresh.
You know those little lemon and lime slices that go on the rim of your glass? They usually sit out until they’re gone. And that can range from a few hours to two or three days. So by the time you get to the bar with your group of friends, those slices are either dried-out and stiff or just slimy and gross. Think twice before you munch on them.
3. And you might want to reconsider eating the bar snacks.
It’s totally normal to crave something crunchy while you’re enjoying your booze. But unless you see the bartender put out a fresh batch of snacks on the counter, you should probably avoid taking any. A bunch of filthy, sweaty, and unwashed hands usually go into that snack bowl, so by the time you get to it, it’s most likely loaded with germs.
4. Getting less ice doesn’t mean you’ll get more alcohol.
You might think you’re being slick when you ask the bartender to go light on the ice. But here’s the thing: Having less ice in your glass will never actually get you more booze. You’ll only end up with a weaker drink because you’ll get either extra soda, juice, or mixer.
Oh, and if you think you can get away with telling them to “go light on on the soda/juice,” you’ll just end up will more ice and less liquid in your glass.
5. And asking for “a strong one” doesn’t mean you’ll get more alcohol either.
Guys, if you want a stronger drink, do yourselves a favor and just order a double. If you try to be sneaky by asking for a strong one, then bartenders will add just a drop or two of alcohol into your straw. That way, you’ll think that they added way more alcohol than they actually did. Pretty clever, right?
6. bartenders will lie and say that they’re out of something, just so they don’t have to make your drink.
Ever heard your bartender say “Sorry, we’re out of mint” after you tried to order a mojito? Well, chances are they’re not really out of mint. It’s just that don’t want to make your complicated, time-consuming drink. Especially if it’s a busy night. So if you notice that the bar is crowded or that the bartender seems overwhelmed, try to be considerate and just order something that won’t take them a year and a day to make.
7. Tipping well on your first order can speed up the service.
And no, this doesn’t mean that you tip only on your first order. Make sure to tip on every drink! Your bartender is much more likely to remember you and make you a priority if you tip decently on your first drink and beyond. And that can come in handy when you’re in a super crowded bar!
8. When bartenders get flirty, in most cases, they’re just trying to be polite.
Sorry guys and gals. Unless that hottie explicitly makes it clear that he’s interested in you, they’re probably not. Being super nice, engaging in small talk, and even getting a little flirty is all part of their job. This isn’t to say that all of them aren’t sincere. But keep in mind that they’re supposed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy and welcome. After all, it will only increase their chances of keeping you as a regular customer and getting higher tips (or a least, your chances of visiting again).
9. Fruity shots are actually rip-offs.
Shot glasses are already so tiny. So when you order that Red Snapper or Melon Ball, you’re getting 95 percent juice with just a few drops of alcohol at most. So you might as well be drinking regular fruit juice… It’s a total waste of money.
10. If you do something awkward or act super weird, all of the bartenders will know about it.
If you embarrass yourself in front of a bartender, trust that the entire bar staff will know about it within minutes. It’s mortifying to think about but, can you really blame them? Like, of course they’ll tell their coworkers about that annoying guy who won’t quit trying to hit on them, or that one couple that seriously needs to get a room. It’s just what they do (and don’t act all innocent, as if you haven’t talked about other people with your own coworkers!).
11. Bartenders can easily tell who’s underage when police officers visit their bar.
Have you ever observed people’s reactions when officers entered the bar? There are those who resume their business as if nothing happened, and then there are those who legit start to have a mini panic attack. Some will even go as far as putting down their drinks and speed-walking towards the door, which, ironically enough, only makes them look more suspicious.
12. They absolutely hate it when you clear your throat, yell, whistle, or snap your fingers to get their attention.
In fact, it might actually slow down your service cause they think you’re being a douche. Bartenders are not your personal maids. And you don’t have to go out of your way to get their attention when you get to the bar. They already know that you’re there and they will get to you when they get a chance. We totally understand that waiting for a while can be frustrating, but keep in mind that bartenders are doing their best to keep up with other customers. And guys, whatever you do, do not try to get their attention or start yelling your order while they’re serving another customer. That’s just beyond rude.
13. And waving money in their faces will only make them skip you and go to the next person.
Some people think that showing off their money will guarantee quicker service, but that’s not always the case. Waving your cash at a bartender (especially while they’re busy serving someone else) is just disrespectful and kind of degrading. They’re not going to come running to you at the sight of money like dogs hungry for a bone. What they will do, though, is deliberately make you wait even longer.
14. Saying that you know the owner doesn’t guarantee you better service.
They may act like it sometimes, but most bartenders actually aren’t that impressed by the fact that you know the owner. People always assume that this line will automatically get them VIP treatment. But unless you’re some kind of A-list celebrity, it’s just not going to happen.
15. Bartenders will avoid you like the plague if you get too personal or treat them like your therapist.
Bartenders are there to serve you drinks and make you feel welcome. It is not part of their job description to sit there and coddle you while you spill your entire life story or complain about all the things that went wrong that week. If you’re going for a drink and you feel like you need to talk to someone, call up a friend or two to join you.
16. They will deliberately take longer to serve you if you piss them off.
The same applies if they don’t really like you, unfortunately. And if they can get away with it, they’ll just make you crappy drinks or choose not to serve you at all. The best thing you can do is just be courteous. And of course, leave tips.
17. And they will totally judge you based on what you order.
If you can’t tell the difference between “neat” and “on the rocks,” they’ll instantly know that you’re a newbie who doesn’t know the first thing about booze. Sometimes, that also means they’ll switch out the good stuff you order for cheaper liquors if they think they can get away with it. If you order a Bloody Mary during happy hour, then they’ll think you’re insane. And if you try to order a fancy, over-the-top cocktail like you’ve seen characters do in the movies, then get ready to deal with an annoyed bartender.
18. Being a regular has a lot of perks.
Regulars are easily remembered and always treated well. Why? Well, because bartenders can always count on them for steady business, of course. Regulars can get things like discounts and free shots. And best of all, their bartenders can easily remember their order and preferences each time they visit.
19. Asking for free drinks is the best way to not get free drinks.
You might get lucky if your bartender is feeling generous or just handing out free shots to customers who dealt with service delays. Or you might even end up with a drink from some random creeper who’s trying to get your number. But you will never, ever get a free drink by just asking for it. Those bad boys are usually earned. So unless you’re a regular or a courteous, patient customer, your chances of getting a free drink are pretty low.
20. Trying to educate a bartender on how to make your drink properly is insulting.
Nothing is more annoying than having to hear a stranger lecture you about how to do your job. And the same applies for bartending. It’s not like their boss randomly picked people to do the job. They were hired because they have the skills and experience, so save the lecture!