How To Order At A Bar and What To Tip

By Natalie Boesch
In Culture

Ordering at bars can be overwhelming for some. I was recently told by a friend that she has to have other people order drinks for her when the bar is busy, and I think many people can relate to that. So here are some ways to boost your confidence and maximize your night out.

photo by Taylor Davidson

photo by Taylor Davidson

1/ Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
Find an open space at the bar and make yourself visible. Watch the bartender; they will feel your gaze and your craving for Civil Life’s seasonal brew (plus, it’s entertaining to watch bartenders do their thing, especially if they’re mixing craft cocktails). When the bartender looks over, don’t look away like you usually would when you get caught staring (unless you’re Kanye). Make eye contact and order your drink. Most importantly, do not shout for the bartender to come to you. Bars are first come, first served and the bartender knows you’re in line.  If you must, give a quick hand signal to let them know you’re ready.

2/ Know What You Want
There’s nothing more frustrating than a customer who flags down the bartender but isn’t ready to order. Tap into your thirst before going through with #1 on this list, and whatever you do, don’t ask for “something fun” during rush hours.

3/ Be Ready To Pay
Have your cash or card in your hand so that you don’t have to fish through your wallet and keep the bartender and the other bar-goers waiting. Bartenders are busy multi-taskers and if you’re unprepared you’ll disrupt their groove.

4/ If It’s Crowded, Step Away From the Bar
In high volume bars, finding the open space to squeeze into can be difficult. Once you’ve made it, stand your ground; and once you’ve gotten your drink, find somewhere else to enjoy it. Each person behind you wants a drink just as badly, so those precious openings need to be shared.

5/ Tip Accordingly
Bartenders make low hourly wages and depend on customers’ gratuity. Therefore, your tips are crucial both to their income and your popularity. If you overtip at the right bar, you may get some free shots. If you undertip at any bar, you’ll get slow service.

We asked Matt Sorrell of Planter’s House for insight into appropriate tipping.

“I think 20 percent or $1 per drink is fair,” he says. “When I tip bartenders (and servers, too), I tend to go pretty heavy because, being in the industry, I understand how much the bartender relies on his or her tips.”

Cheers!

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