As I’ve previously stated, first impressions stick with bartenders. How you approach the bartender determines to that bartender whether or not you deserve their immediate attention. Making “friends” with your bartender is very important, and I am going to share with you the “do’s” and “don’ts” of that initial approach.
First of all, take a look around at what the bartender is dealing with. If the bartender is extremely busy and you want their attention, there are subtle ways that will get you that drink faster. NEVER, and I mean, NEVER whistle – we are not dogs and it’s just plain rude. Don’t jump up and down waving your arms (yes, people do this), you’re not the only person in the bar, and you look like an idiot. Instead, a slight hand gesture, while the bartender is looking your way, is very effective. Holding a bill out also works very well — having money out and ready shows that bartender that this can be a quick transaction.
Always have your entire drink order ready, bartenders do not like making five trips for one order. A good bartender can easily make several drinks at a time. Asking a busy bartender one or two questions is fine, but no more than that please, we don’t have the time. “How much” questions are bad — this immediately tells the bartender that you most likely won’t tip, if you can’t afford to go out, stay home. Don’t interrupt a bartender when they are dealing with another customer, and don’t just blurt out your drink order without the bartenders acknowledgement, again, very rude.
Now that I’ve pointed out what to do and not what to do when you go for that first order, let me give you some suggestions on dealing with the bartender once your on their good side. We all know that bartenders, like hairdressers, are good for venting your frustrations and giving advice. Just know this: When we have the time it’s fine — if we’re slammed, we’ll talk about it later. Don’t take it personally, we do have to earn a living.
I have to finish with one last thing. I’ve been bartending for way longer than I care to admit, and in this time I’ve met some of my dearest friends through my job. Bartenders are just people doing their jobs, just like everyone else. Don’t treat them like your personal servant, you’ll find that befriending a bartender will not only insure you great service, but, you may pick up a lifelong friend along the way.