Five Bar Blunders and Faux Pas to Avoid

Honestly, it would be a sin to not talk about the bar scene and proper bar etiquette when referring to college life.  College is a constant blend of experiences, friendships, human interaction, and education.  The matter of the fact is you will probably remember twice as many stories, “lessons learned”,  events you have attended, and the people you have met than the information you read scanned between the 325 page cardboard Ambien that is college text books during your collegiate tenure.

But why is it important to discuss proper bar etiquette on a college health site?  Well, because health goes well beyond the superficial attributes we see on a daily basis (fitness, weight, dietary consumption, etc.).  Optimal health includes the ability to obtain and sustain healthy relationships and communication, incorporate the emotional and social wherewithal to treat each other with respect, and most importantly, the ability to process and recognize our limits.  What better environment to experience all of that than at a bar!  Cheers!

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a variety of night life settings at both of the colleges I attended.  In undergrad, James Madison University really didn’t have much of a bar scene, but holy crap, could their apartment parties put major city downtowns to shame.  Then, there is the University of Delaware that has somewhat of a mild off-campus party scene but the restaurants and bars along Main Street, Newark (or I like to refer to as the “de-hydrate 2K”) on a  Friday and Saturday night often rival that of Mardi Gras.

Regardless if you are at a fancy nightclub in NYC, a beachfront waterhole along the pacific coast highway, lounging at Bdubs in Harrisonburg, VA, or Kildare’s in Newark, DE, there is a certain level of public decency, etiquette, and respect that is expected.  So after talking with several of my bartending friends, the following list consists of the 5 “What Not to do at a Bar” faux pas.

So the next time you and your roving socialites hit the town, make sure not to include these five in your nightly interactions.

1.)    DO NOT wave a bartender down:  Several bartenders have told me this… a bartender is not a landing aircraft, docking ship, pedestrian at a parade, or even a cab.  Waving frantically to get their attention will probably get you crappier service and most definitely a disgruntled bartender.

If you miraculously happen to land a bartender with your flapping wings, make sure you are prepared to place your order.  If you have to turn to your crew and say, “hey guys, what do you want?”  You’ll be getting a little extra dirty in your dirty martini.  They call this being a “Rookie” and that’s just bush league bro.

Tip – Have a game plan.  Figure out your drink order ahead of time; approach the bar while making friendly eye contact with a bartender (don’t stare them down), and when they approach, knock out the order like a seasoned professional.  It is as simple as that.

2.)    One tab people, good god, one tab:  One of the biggest pet peeves for bartenders is the customer who opens and closes a tab after every drink purchase.  One bartender summed it up perfectly, “you’re a pain in the a$$.”  If you’re going to stay at the bar all night, why in the h-e-double hockey sticks would you open 7 tabs?  Here’s a little secret shared with me – most bartenders can actually help you with your bill the higher it gets.  For example, not charging you for those 2 Bud Lights you just had to have for last call that you don’t even finish anyway.

Tip – One tab, a friendly smile, and a decent tip will get you a long way at the bar (and probably a smaller tab than expected)

3.)    Order all at once:  The bar is not Wendy’s or Taco Bell.  Do not order 5 shots, then make it 6, then make it 7, then change the type, and then add 2 beers.  The bartender has already started to make you 5 mixed shots and now has to go back and make 2 more.  You’ve wasted their time, especially if it’s busy.  Plus it makes the bartender look incompetent in the eyes of their boss.  That does not bode well for you.  Thanks.

Tip – Know your numbers.  As a bartender said, “If I want to watch a verbal debate of people undecided on what they want or what they are arguing for, I will turn on Republican primaries – and I DO NOT want to watch that.”

4.)    It’s on the house:  For whatever the reason, a lot of people just don’t get this one.  When a bartender says it’s on the house, it’s actually coming out of his pocket.  That means when you go to tip, you should tip on the full amount of the drink plus tip.  Not like $2. Tip well.  At the very least, tip $10 on a round and $5 for a single beer.

Now it doesn’t always have to be this way but this is why you should do it at least once a night…

1.) You will be remembered very quickly by the bartender as a great tipper for future visits

2.) On a crowded night guess who gets their beers fastest?  The person who tips well!!

Tip – If you receive a drink on the house, make sure to tip on the full amount of the drink plus tip.

5.)     Special Orders:  Some bars have an open kitchen all night, some have late night menus, and some will on special requests make a quick snack.  Regardless of the venue, try to order straight from the menu and whatever you do, do not start making ridiculous requests or changes to the item you ordered unless it is due to a food allergy or health/religious conflict.

Would you want someone to come into your office 20 minutes before the end of your day and ask you to completely re-tool a presentation?   Probably not.  Be courteous to your local pub servants… because we’ve all seen the movie Waiting.

Tip – when ordering food after 11:30p always make sure to say please and thank you to your waiter or bartender who places the order, tip well, and if you are so inclined, send your complements to the chef.  It’s amazing how far politeness and generosity will get you in the restaurant/bar industry.

Are you a bartender or restaurant groupie and want to add something to the list? If so, feel free to comment below 🙂

– Corey S., Founder of RemixYourHealth

Check out my tweets: @TheCoreyMatthew

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