Barkeep Confessions: How to make your bartender hate you (in 5 easy steps)

On either side of the bar, how I observe someone treating their barkeep tells me a lot about who they are, to the core, as a human being. If I’m out with friends and I see an acquaintance treating my service industry brethren like second-class citizens, you best believe I’ll be tipping 100 percent, apologizing, and never associating with that person again. If I’m behind the bar and you treat me like garbage, depending on the level of asinine behavior, my reaction will range from resting bitch face to telling you about yourself to having my manager politely escort you out of the building. Make no mistake, if you’re simply not a frequent bar-goer and need help with your nightlife etiquette, I’ll probably call you a blithering fool behind your back, but you can still have a cocktail. I’ve cultivated a list of offenses ranging from laughable to downright criminal – take a gander and stare into the abyss for just a moment and ask yourself, “How much does my bartender hate me?”

Waving your hands in the air
Unless I am legitimately on fire, someone in the bar is having a heart attack or the building is under terrorist attack, there is no reason to jump up in the air, waving your hands like a lunatic. Years as a drink-slinger have perfected my ability to carry on a conversation with one guest and still continue to scan the bar out of the corner of my eye for newcomers. Chances are, I know you’re there, and I’m simply going to finish my sentence with Chicago Joe and then tend to your needs. You won’t die of thirst, I promise. And you look like a buffoon.

Asking for a “surprise”
Despite the fact that a good bartender can probably guess what your drink of choice is (reading people is our milieu), please don’t ever say, “Surprise me.” You may not like what I make you, and then you’re even more of an asshole when you send back your indecisive mistake. This also goes for ladies that ask for a “girly drink.” I’m a girl, and I drink bourbon, so what exactly are you getting at? If you want a surprise glass of fruity, syrupy garbage that’s light on the booze, just ask for that, sweetheart. But don’t insult the women out there that can enjoy a true drink. Additionally, if you ask me to make you some off-the-wall cocktail you had when you were at a BBQ in Texas last month, keep in mind we’re a bar in Louisville and probably don’t know how to make a “Texas Titties in Your Face.” We have liquor and I can come close, but c’mon people, we need a little more than that. . .

Questioning the amount of liquor I put in your drink
“This tastes like straight cranberry juice!” is a common phrase spoken amongst folk that tend to make their own drinks at home. However, the industry standard is to take inventory based on sales, so bartenders use a pour spout and follow a 1.5 to 2 oz. rule per cocktail. If you would like a double, I will happily pour you one, all you have to do is ask!  But no, I did not make you a bourbon and coke, sans bourbon, simply because you can’t taste it. It doesn’t bring me joy to leave out the booze; I am not laughing to my coworkers, “Man, I really got him! No liquor in that one!” You wouldn’t ask a surgeon if they did, in actuality, put that cadaver ligament in your knee, would you? You see the incision, and you know they did the job. Let’s keep that as a rule of thumb with our craft, as well, and if you want your tumbler full of vodka just like you’re watching Netflix at home, just order a double, tall, on the rocks, and expect to pay $12 per drink.

Telling me to smile
Yes, it is absolutely my job to be polite, give attentive service and make you a spectacular drink – and hell, even partake in some friendly bar banter – but contrary to popular belief, it’s not my job to walk around like a possessed Stepford Wife. Yes, honey, I know you’re in town from Eastern Kentucky for the Farm Machinery Show and this is like your night out in Vegas, but shockingly enough, just because I have tits doesn’t mean I’m required to flirt with you. I can guarantee if I were a male barkeep, you wouldn’t be asking, “What’s wrong, darlin’? Shoot me a smile,” which is a horrific double standard many female bartenders are subjected to every day. I will do a great job, and I will smile when it’s natural. But I won’t tolerate harassment, emotionally or sexually, simply because a bar guest feels that a female bartender should be sensible to a man’s needs. Now here’s your bourbon – with a smile!

Repeatedly paying separate
There is a time and a place for separate tabs – large bills with food, shots, etc., are understandably not going to be picked up by one person all the time. But, if you and your bro are repeatedly walking up to the bar, ordering one beer and paying separately each time, you are a douche. You do realize you’re both spending the same amount of money, respectively, with more credit card transactions?  Why not buy a round and then have dude buy the next? And if you’re only having one, is it really that hard to pick up your friend’s $5 pilsner once in a while? Karma, baby, it’s coming for you.