Top 12 Signs Your Bartenders Know What They’re Doing–Part 1

I have spent a fair amount of time at local “watering holes” since I turned 21 years old (the legal age to drink in America). During that time, I’ve seen a lot of bartenders, I’ve seen a lot of things happen and I’ve seen scenarios go from bad to worse or bad to neutral in 1.9 seconds. Here is my list of 12 signs that the bartender treats his job like a career and not just a person pouring drinks…

  1.  Can Take A Hint–Sometimes you just want to be left alone. You’re in with a book, a friend or group and you want the bartender to bring you your drinks when the glass is empty, but leave you the heck alone.  I appreciate a bartender who is engaging, but sometimes I don’t want to talk to you, I want to read or chat with the person/people I’ve come with to the bar. The good bartender will take the hint and leave you alone.
  2. Cuts Off The Town Drunk–Sometimes “that guy” needs to be cut off, and while not a popular thing to do, for the safety of the drunk, the patrons at the bar, people in an arm’s reach of the drunk, it’s necessary. I had a bartender tell me this week that when he cut off a guy for being too intoxicated, the drunkard called the bartender a “homophob”! He also said he’s been called “Racist” for cutting someone off. I guess when you’re drunk your preception is skewed.
  3. Can Talk More Than Sports–So, for those of you that don’t know me personally, I am not a sports enthusist. I’m just not. I don’t care about throwing a ball through a hoop or kicking it between two very large and spread out posts. So talk to me about something different. Even, Heaven forbid, politics or religion. I say, when done respectfully, topics upon which you and I might not agree doesn’t have to be off limits. The key is whether or not you can keep it civil. I may not agree with your political stance, but I respect that your opinion is wrong. Or, perhaps a bit more mildly, talk about current events. A missing airplane in an ocean, a capsized ferry boat in S. Korea, the Russian invasion of Crimea. Those are interesting topics that I can talk to you about.
  4. Knows Their Bar–When you’re busy, you need to know right where everything else. Wasting time looking for a shaker, the particular bottle of rum, a specific glass for a cocktail, that time adds up. I respect when a bartender can put their hand on the item(s) they need without bating an eye. That shows their professionalism and that they take “ownership” over their bar.
  5. Can Prioritize–So you’ve got the patron who just saddled up to the bar, the patrons who are looking for a refill in their empty stein, and the waitstaff who needs drinks to take out to their customers. It can get very overwhelming. There is nothing worse than having to wait, and wait, and wait for your drink. I’ve left drinking establishments because the bartending service was so slow. Another key reason to know their bar and where everything is. As if not knowing your bar wasn’t a time waster to begin with, having to create cocktails for patrons at the bar and in the restaurant area can slow things down. So the ability to hold off on refilling the beerstein of the guy who might start getting too drunk is a good idea, the bartender can make a drink for the new patron at the bar…thus giving the other guy a chance to sober up.
  6. Right Amount of Chat w/ Everyone–Just like a want a bartender to take a hint, I want him to also engage with me a bit. Maybe comment on the book I’m reading, or something in the newspaper I’m reading. I do want to the bartender to give me advice on a drink. That’s okay. Plus, if he’s down at one end of the bar chatting it up with the attractive 21 year old and not refilling my Bacardi & Diet, he’ll get a minimal tip and I’ll leave. So chat with me for a minute or two then move along.

I’ll share with you the next 6 in a follow-up blog post tomorrow.

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