From the start, my main purpose in writing “Bar Room Tips” was to make the bar-going experience better for all involved. Most topics provide me with enough material for a whole article. However, there are so many little things that need be said, but no one topic will fill a page.
Although I have written on the subject of tipping in the past, I would like to reiterate and make a new suggestion or two: As I’ve previously mentioned, tips make up the largest bulk of a bartender’s income — sometimes as much as 90 percent. That being said, I think it’s pretty clear that tipping is a powerful tool in this business. When paying cash, tip with every transaction — don’t be an “End Tipper.” An End Tipper leaves a tip at the end of their visit ( not a good idea). After one or two transactions and no tip, the bartender will assume you don’t tip and your service will be affected. If you are an End Tipper and have no intentions of changing your routine, let your bartender know you’ll take care of them when you leave. I do have to warn you, we do often get shorted or stiffed by these types. A lot of times, someone who states that they are an “End Tipper” will slip out unnoticed to avoid tipping. When running a credit card tab, it’s obvious to the bartender that this is an “End Tipping” situation. If you intend to leave a cash tip on a charge, write “cash” on the tip line, not a zero or slash mark. The reason for this is so that when the manager or owner sees the slip, they won’t assume that the server wasn’t tipped due to bad service.
Although a lot of drinks out there require a blender, there are even more that don’t. Let it be known that a great deal of bartenders don’t like to use blenders, especially when we are slammed. I’m in no way saying we won’t blend drinks, for some we have to. I’m just saying that if your bartender is obviously “in the weeds,” don’t ask them to blend a Midori Sour. The fact of the matter is, blending drinks slows us down and waters your drink down quicker. Of course, some places, like TGI Fridays, specialize in these concoctions — in that case, order away.
Something you have to remember is that bartenders are employees too — we do as asked by the owners. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I often suffer repercussions for things that my boss requires us to do. For example, with every credit card transaction I have to ask for I.D. It’s amazing, in this day and age of credit card fraud, how many people get offended by this and feel the need to stiff me because of it. Trust me, I’d just assume not have to waste valuable time waiting for a person to fish out their I.D. when I have a dozen others waiting for a drink.
Last call is a time that I both dread and look forward to. The good thing is that it marks the end of my long and exhausting night. The bad thing is the mad rush to the bar so that everyone can get that precious last drink. Standard bar procedure allows bartenders a given amount of time to get all those drink orders out. After that, when all drinks have been served, customers are given time to finish their drinks before being shuffled out. When the last call bell rings, let the bartender have that time to get those drinks out — don’t choose this time to close your credit card tab or have the bartender call you a cab. After the bartenders have completed the daunting task of getting all those final drinks out, the establishment allows an amount of time for customers to finish those last drinks. Use this time to close your tabs and get your cabs. I fully understand that there are times when you don’t have a choice and we need to oblige to your request at last call. I’m just saying if that’s not the case, give us time to finish the task at hand.
There are certain aspects of our job that people don’t take into consideration. If I wasn’t in the business, I probably wouldn’t either. The one that tends to stand out in my mind the most is the whole “cutting off” thing. More often than not, as soon as I cut someone off, the first words out of their mouth are “I’m not driving.” It doesn’t matter. We, as bartenders, are subject to large fines for over serving. It IS a punishable offense that can also lead to the closure of the establishment, temporary or otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do and I feel that I’m pretty good at it. As with every job, it does have it up’s and down’s. This is just a way of letting you all know some of what goes through a bartender’s mind while on the job. If putting these things out makes going out a better experience for all involved, I think it’s worth it. I feel fortunate to have this venue to talk about the in’s and out’s of my job. Have fun out there and always be safe.