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5 Rules for Bar Patrons

October 15, 2009

by Monsiuer Anton

We have already discussed some of the rules for restaurant patrons, but what if you’re stuck at the bar?  Maybe you don’t even want to eat dinner.  Maybe like the rest of us degenerates, you want to just drink your dinner.  It’s ok to admit it.  We’ve all been there.  Perhaps you’re just at the bar killing time until your table is ready or that hot blind date arrives.  Well like anything in life, there are rules, and you don’t want to tick off your bartender.  That is unless you want to die of thirst.  Please keep in mind that these rules are for restaurant bars.  If you are going to a neighborhood joint, or meat market, different rules may apply.  However, not totally different. 

1.Show a little class when getting the bartender’s attention. The bartender in a popular establishment can be a very busy bee.  Alcohol deprived patrons can be a surly bunch.  Throw on top of it a service bar where five servers are clamoring for their table’s drinks, and well, it can be a stressful job.  Be patient.  Don’t by any means wave your arms wildly like a turkey trying to take flight the day before Thanksgiving.  And, if I ever see you banging your glass on the bar, there better be a bug under there.  I know your mother taught you that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  Be polite to your bartender.  A simple “excuse me” or “when you have a moment” will ensure you will likely get the next available moment that bartender has.  Did you ever see James Bond order a Martini in the movies?  A wink, a smile, and a polite wave went a long way.  Well that and he was of course James Bond.

2. Know your drink. Some time back in the 80’s, somebody decided that drinks should have gimmicky names.  Let’s throw a bunch of fruity tasting, sugary liqueurs in a shaker and create some Kool Aid resembling concoction with a moniker making a crude reference to a body part or tropical nudist colony.  I can only hope that person has already died a slow, painful, liver induced death.  Add to this the fact that many of these drinks have a different name in various parts of the country.  You should not be too disappointed when your bartender in a nice classy, white table cloth restaurant does not know what a Sex on a Polynesian Beach with Sand Sticking to your Hairy Butt is. Especially if you are a guy.  It’s just plain wrong.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to make it for you if you tell them what is in it.  You don’t know what’s in it?  Then you don’t need to be drinking it.  Here is an idea.  Stick to the classic cocktails like Manhattans, Gimlets, or Martinis (real Martinis, not frou frou drinks masquerading as a Martini).  They taste great, and you will look a lot cooler drinking them.  Chicks dig the classics!

3. Pay your tab when you go to your table. Any fine restaurant will offer to transfer your bar tab to your table for you.  At this point, dear patron, you have a couple of options.  Politely ask your bartender for your bar tab, and settle up.  This one time I guarantee they will find time for you.  Your other option is to have your bar tab transferred to the dining room, but (and this is an important but) tip the bartender before going to your table.  You see, in theory the bartender will get a percentage of the server’s bar sales in a tip out from that server.  In reality, that percentage will never match the amount of work they put into personally serving you.  You think the barmaid winked and smiled at you to get three percent of the sale?  Would you?  Make sure your bartender gets the full tip.  Which brings us to our next point…

4. Tip your bartender! This falls under the category of being so basic it does not need to be said, but sadly, it does.  You’d be surprised at how many people do not tip their bartender, or woefully under tip them.  What is the right tip?  The minimum should be a dollar a drink or 18% of the total tab, whichever is the greater.  If the house buys a drink for you, tip well on that drink.  Remember this simple rule of life.  It is impossible to over tip.  It will always come back to you in good karma.  Not only that, but think about how cool you’ll look when you come back with a date and the bartender knows your drink, and has it ready for you.  On the other hand, you just may look like a hopeless lush.  Either way, you got your drink!

5. Return the favor. We all know the guy.  You’re out in a group and Joe buys a round.  Then Charlie picks up the next one.  Jeff then treats the groups to adult beverages.  What great guys!  Look at Gusteau* over there enjoying all the free booze.  Now look at Gusteau* disappear to the restroom when it’s his turn to buy.  I know times are tight, but if you don’t have the funds to go out and hold up your end of the evening’s fun, just pick up a six pack of Natty Light and go home to watch reruns of Everyone Loves Raymond.

Ok then, now that we know the rules, let’s go out and have a few cocktails!  Gusteau’s buying!

*Actually, Gusteau is a very generous human being, and would never think of stiffing his buddies on a round.  Truth be told, he’s generous to a fault.  Now, if you told him I said that, I’ll deny, deny, deny.

Chef Gusteau: “Ah Anton, Dionysus has nothing on you!

Anton interjects for a moment:  To save you a trip to Wikipedia, Dionysus was the Greek god of wine.  I think it is safe to say that in today’s world, he would be the god of all alcohol. So next time you are at the bar, raise your glass in a toast to Dionysus.  Let’s make it a thing.

Although I prefer to stay in the kitchen, the bar is also a wonderful place to be.  On that note, I must say that I do have a problem with those guests who order one drink and just sit there for hours, hoping that natural evaporation of the drink occurs so they won’t actually have to drink themselves.  You may think that attractive bartender is so enamored by your company that you don’t have to buy any drinks and that your presence alone has brightened their evening…trust me, unless you are James Bond, you’re not that cool.  My bartender relies on beverage service for revenue…so play the game and have a drink or two, and tip respectfully.

The bar has the ability to set the mood for the evening and the food to come.  My bartenders are almost as important as my cooks, and that says a lot.    For that reason, I am known to overtip the bar…although I prefer to see it as showing proper homage to those who control the expensive wine and whisky that I REQUIRE at the end of a long dinner service.  So, visit the bar, enjoy a relaxing beverage, and even become adventurous and let your bartender recommend a drink for you.  In fact, if you have a lot of drinks before dinner, I can almost guarantee my food will never have tasted better.”

Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine and the man we all drink to!

Dionysus the Greek God of Wine and the man we shall all drink to!

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