“Rookie” is usually a term associated with first-year athletes. However, we in the bar business have our own versions. There is nothing wrong with being a Rookie — you have to start somewhere. What is important is not coming across as one. Hopefully, this will help:

The first, and most common form of Rookie, comes in the form of a 21-year-old. It sometimes extends as far as 23 years. But usually by the second bar-going year, most Rookie-type behavior ceases to exist. This category of Rookie provides the most indications. Stupid questions like “do you have Vodka?” and “do you have shots?” are dead giveaways. Asking how much EVERYTHING is and ordering drinks like Strawberry Pina Coladas are also signs. Then there’s the “non-tipping” behavior, the most detrimental to a bartender. With this type of behavior, I have found that if a bartender explains to the 21-year-old that tipping is an essential aspect of a successful bar-going experience, the Rookie usually welcomes the information — it’s amazing how many just don’t know. Other indications are the inability to handle alcohol, acting like they know it all, and trying way too hard to be the coolest cat ever. That last one can be painful to watch and has a tendency to be male dominated. Clothing removal is something that can happen with the female of the species, it’s just not as common.

The second type of Rookie is the type that is new to the service industry. These types can be just as annoying, if not more so, than the 21-year-olds. Why? Because they should know better. These types come to me and say things like, “Hook me up and I’ll hook you up when you come in.” First off, it is an unspoken rule that bartenders (as well as other service industry workers) take care of each other. You don’t have to tell me to, I already know. Asking me to give away a drink is also tacky. As I’ve previously stated, nothing is free — I pay for that drink. Who’s to say I’ll ever set foot in your place of employment? I certainly won’t do it to be reimbursed for that drink you asked me for. And let me say this: I will cut you off if you’ve had too much to drink. Don’t think that you’re immune because you work in the same field. I would expect the same if I were overly intoxicated in your establishment. Being perceived as “cool” isn’t worth my job.

The last category of “Rookie” is actually a combination of a few less commonly known types. The first being the “new in town” type. I don’t care where you’re from, or how it’s done there. You’re here now, so adapt to the differences. If there’s something that you want that would make you feel more at home, ask. I will attend to any reasonable request. Then there are those going through a life change, like divorce and being in the “bar scene” the first time in their lives. These Rookies are not always annoying, and I try to help these types out. They have a tendency to make their lack of bar experience known. However, those who try to establish a new life through the bar and the bar alone, those are the ones I tend to pity.

Experiencing new things in life is exciting. Meeting new people and sharing good times is a great thing if you do it right. I am in no way saying for you to be something other than yourself. If something is new to you, admit it, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a hell of a lot better than playing it off and coming across as an ass!

Anastasia See all posts by this author
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