Bar Etiquette 101 – 10 Tips on How to Behave at a Bar

If you’re thinking on going on a pub crawl, it might be a good idea to brush up on your bar etiquette. As a nightlife writer who spends most of my time at the bars (more often than not), here’s the lowdown on how to ensure you have a great time at a bar—however exclusive it is. Check out these 10 tips that will ensure you have a great night at any bar.

crowded bar

  1. Case the joint.
    Upon entering the bar, take a minute to look around and act accordingly. If the bar is bustling with activity, chances are the bartender will not be looking to chat with you. Order your drinks, and make it snappy.
  2. Be patient and polite.
    Wait for an appropriate moment to get the bartender’s attention. If he/she isn’t available to take your order at that moment, be polite and say, “Hi, I understand that you’re really busy now, but when you do get a chance, could I order a drink please? I’ll be waiting over there.”
  3. Have your order ready.
    By the time the bartender approaches you, make sure you know your orders, and order them all at once. If you’re with friends, consolidate their orders before getting the bartender’s attention.
  4. When asked for your drink of choice, don’t answer, “surprise me”.
    Bartenders aren’t mind readers. If they make you an Old Fashioned without knowing that you hate whiskey, you’re still going to pay for it. Never say this unless you’re looking for an unpleasant surprise.
  5. Know the bar.
    If you’re at a whiskey bar with over 300 labels of whiskies, don’t order a “whiskey coke”. It’s rude and downright disrespectful to the bar. Chances are you’ll have problems catching the bartender’s attention from then on.
  6. Respect the bartender.
    Don’t tell the bartender how to do their job. Just because you know a tip or two about sprucing up a drink doesn’t make you a bartender. Trust them—there’s a (good) reason why they’re behind the bar.
  7. Know how to pay.
    Don’t order if you’re not the one paying—this makes it very confusing for the bartender. Order individually if you’re splitting the tab. Also, if you’re planning to have a few drinks at the bar, keep a tab open instead of having them ring you up each time you order a drink.
  8. Don’t complain about prices to the bartender.
    The bartender doesn’t make the prices, nor do they have the authority to change them. If you don’t like the prices, get out.
  9. Always tip the bartender (generously).
    Singapore doesn’t practice this (this is bigger in the States), but leaving the bartender a tip (20% of the tab; 25% if you got special service) lets them know that you value their good service. Always leaving a tip will ensure you’ll soon be a treasured regular.
  10. 10.  Always agree with the bartender.
    Sometimes, people drink more than they realize and start to become a nuisance to others. If the bartender refuses you a drink and asks you to sit down, listen to the bartender and do whatever they tell you to. The bartender is always right. Always.
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Categories: Bar, Cocktail Bars, Dining, Lists, Nightlife, Tips

One Comment on “Bar Etiquette 101 – 10 Tips on How to Behave at a Bar”

  1. January 12, 2017 at 8:54 AM #

    I agree that when it comes to buying a drink you need to be polite and be ready to order. It makes sense that it can help you get the best service you can as well as have a good time. I can see how making sure you understand the rules of drinking can help you be safe and avoid any problems.

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