Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: Bar Etiquette 102
In the previous blog, I mentioned some basics to know and expect when going out to bars as far as customer – bar staff relations go. In today’s entry we will take a look at some examples of bar etiquette when it comes to receiving comped drinks and bad bar etiquette as far as customer – bar staff relations and customer – customer relations go.
If you are a regular at a bar, then I’m sure you are aware that as a regular in a bar, you tend to receive some perks. The perks could come in the form of where you sit in the bar whenever you go. If it’s a sportsbar that you attend, it could come in the form of always having a certain TV tuned to whatever your favorite sporting event is or team that may be playing at a given time.
It could come in the form of your drink being poured heavier than the standard pour, or even be a double of whatever your drink of choice is. However, many times a perk is usually having a shot or a drink comped to you by a bartender that is the regular bartender that serves you. Sometimes all of the aforementioned can be received as a set of perks simultaneously, simply because you are a good customer and/or a regular and have established that relationship with the bar you attend and your bartender.
When it comes to drinks or shots being comped by a bartender, the proper bar etiquette that should enter one’s mind is to “Tip” your bartender. Generally speaking most people tip a dollar per drink but if you think about it, a fair tip would be $2 to $3 dollars for a comped drink and depending on the type of liquor being poured (Top Shelf) more than several dollars (especially) if you are a regular of the bar and are comped regularly.
Tipping A) Shows your bartender that you recognize that he/she is doing you a favor and saving you money. And B) Shows your etiquette level in recognizing that he/she is working and not working for free. There is no greater offense to a bartender than to comp a customer a free drink and not receive a tip in return.
Any tip is better than no tip, however, with that being said don’t tip your bartender with change like a quarter or two even if that’s the change you receive back. Having class and exhibiting it usually nets you good service and a much better bar experience when interacting with a bartender.
Now when I say having class and exhibiting it, that is not to infer that one has to have a lot of money to have and display class. It simply means when tipping keep your change for the bus and put down a bill. Remember bar etiquette 101. Having the money to socialize in a bar means you should be prepared to tip when you know you’re going to be out drinking.
The next thing to know in Bar Etiquette is do not abuse perks such as comped drinks. There is nothing more telling about a patron who routinely comes to a bar and expects that they should be bought a drink by a staff member that “knows” them every time they show up. That gets old real quick and can cause you to wear out your welcome not to mention that perk.
If you combine that with not even having the etiquette level of tipping on top of that, then that welcome could be worn out even sooner than you think. Which in turn could lead to other bar staff recognizing that you are in fact exhibiting maggot behavior and are nothing more than a parasite.
Imagine a scenario in which a group of bar-hoppers go out barhopping and one member of the group takes his friends to his bartender and gets a whole round of drinks comped. Imagine now the group pools their money together and places a nice fat tip for the bartender on the bar while they continue to drink and carouse until they are ready to leave and leave the tip money for the bartender under a glass.
They thank the bartender for his service before departing to their next location. Now imagine that they only later find out, that the same group member who brought them to that bartender, stole the pooled tip money off the bar as he exited. Can you imagine the expression on the face of the bartender when he realizes he has been stiffed by the group (who actually tipped)? This action would unequivocally lead to resentment and loss of perks for that particular bar-goer in that bar. Not to mention the fact that the bartender would most likely then associate that behavior with the group and not just the person who stole his tips.
Here’s another example of heinous bar etiquette. When as a customer you assume that the bartender is too busy to notice that you were given back the correct change and you insist that the bartender short changed you. One must be aware that in most bars, there are security cameras watching not just the crowd in the bar but the actual bartenders and their bartending stations especially the registers. Trying to get over on bartenders during this time would not be a wise thing to do.
This is especially true when you consider that chances are the customer is the person most likely to be impaired due to consumption of alcohol rather than the bartender. Potential for abuse has and can happen the other way round for that exact same reason. So caution should be taken on both sides. Count your change when it is given back to you immediately and in front of the bartender if you desire before you leave your tip to ensure that you have been given the correct change. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this as the result of laziness on the part of an intoxicated customer who hasn’t realized that he/she was given the correct change before becoming belligerent and erroneously accuse a bartender of trying to rip him/her off.
Happy Hour Etiquette:
During Happy Hour most patrons know that they are receiving two drinks for the price of one every time they place an order with the bartender on duty until Happy Hour is over for the night. Once again where “Common Sense” would dictate even for novice bar goers you should understand what the meaning of Happy Hour is before going to a bar. I’m never surprised at the lack of basic bar know how by today’s patrons.
I’ve heard the most dumb questions about Happy Hour imaginable from what’s 2 for 1 mean? LMAO, To comments such as “I didn’t know that Belvedere isn’t 2 for 1. Why didn’t he tell me that?” Generally there can be a grey area depending once again on the establishment that you go to for happy hour as every bar has their own Happy Hour specials and lists what is or isn’t on the menu for 2 for 1.
However, if you are not a novice at going out to bars then you would know almost no establishment gives away top shelf liquor during Happy Hour at 2 for 1. In the rare instance that that should occur it would have to be some sort of drink promotion by event promoters for the particular liquor. In either case as a basic principle I urge all bar-hoppers and patrons alike to read the signs outside the bar and inside the bar before approaching the bartender with a question that need not be asked, if one only took the time to R.E.A.D!!!
As tedious as it may seem to read anything a bar posts either on a blackboard or a poster within or without their premises, reading what is posted publicly should be instinctual to society. Yet many of us are willfully ignorant of our surroundings and what documents are put before us. If it doesn’t dazzle our senses within the first few seconds it’s ignored.
This common laziness has to be rooted out because the social decay in educated adults has become very alarming. Another important point to keep in mind during Happy Hour is basic bar etiquette subcategory A) Knowing how long Happy Hour is at whatever the particular establishment is you choose to patronize. It never reflects well on someone to be blatantly ignorant of the hours of Happy Hour Specials and then get upset with the bartender who can no longer honor the Happy Hour Specials as the time has expired for the Specials. In some cases a bartender may be willing to accommodate a late purchase if you are nice enough in your asking for it. Not saying ass kissing is required but a polite demeanor and request will most likely get you that accommodation versus bitching and pitching a fit over missing the Special 10 minutes past its end or more.
Customer to Customer Etiquette
Yet another example of bad bar etiquette is in customer to customer relations. Namely when using the restrooms of an establishment. I assume most people who go out and frequent clubs or bars have at some point or other come into contact with inconsiderate fellow customers who feel that the world revolves around them and so little to no thought is given to the amount of time taken in the restroom or the sanitary conditions left behind for fellow patrons.
I also tend to assume that most people would take care of their business before going out for a night out on the town, but then again there is no accounting for nature you go when you gotta go. As a general rule when nature calls and one is in a bar or restaurant restroom proper bar etiquette dictates that a courtesy flush and clean toilet seat is left after one has finished their business.
Whether a bar or restaurant has one barback or many on duty it should never be considered acceptable for one to leave a restroom in worse condition than it was found. That lack of respect is not just visited on the other customers who may need to use the restroom after you but an indictment of the type of character and hygiene practiced by ones self.
You wouldn’t want to have to use a restroom and when the moment of truth arrived find that you could not use it because it was left in such a disgusting unsanitary condition that you would need to clean it thoroughly before being able to relieve one’s self.
To Wash or Not to Wash
Should there be even a question as to whether one should wash his/her hands after using a restroom? Hand washing is another practice that is paramount in social behavior and bar etiquette. Giving fists bumps is not just a way of greeting someone but has become a practice taken as an alterntive to an open handshake. And why avoid open handshakes?
Well when considering people who frequent a bar, and whom visit the restroom, you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. No matter what the excuse “I didn’t piss on my hands” or “there’s no soap or hand towels.” Even if there’s no soap, there’s no excuse to not at the very least use water and rinse your hands as best as one can before exiting a restroom.
Logic dictates one shouldn’t shake hands if he/she knows the other person A) didn’t wash their hands after having used a restroom. And B) when deciding whether or not to take chips or pretzels from a common bowl on the bar where it’s open to everyone putting their hands in it. As another a general rule and principle: I avoid eating bar foods like nuts, pretzels, chips, trail mixes and the like unless I had my very own private bowl.
When in doubt as to the hygiene of someone or as a general precaution unless you know the person you will shake hands with, giving a fist bump is an acceptable form of greeting someone without palm to palm contact. Fist bumps are the most practical and common form of a handshake without actually shaking hands. It’s courteous and allows one to limit contact with potentially filthy unwashed hands.
More examples to come in the upcoming Bar Etiquette 103. This has been Bar Etiquette 102 by JNSREPORT.