As I am still getting my stuff together I thought I would publish something that is more or less a preview of what is to come. Please comment if you enjoy it, or hate it!
“Hook it up!”
A well deserved saying in the number one spot! The “hook it up” request has never worked out for anyone, here is why. Those who are often inclined to ask for a heavier than normal pour are typically of the same pedigree. They want to get wasted drunk for cheap. Even if the bartender for whatever reason likes you and is willing to pour you a stronger drink, your chances are greatly diminished upon uttering these words. The bartender will immediately recall all the previous people who have made the same request. For some bartenders it can be as far back as the person who ordered before you. The memories of how many of those people tipped poorly, if they even bothered to tip come rushing back. The result is that the bartender is less likely to do you any favors now that you have associated yourself with bad tippers.
If you prefer stronger drinks, recognize that there is a price for your preference. If you choose to notify your bartender of this preference do two things. First, articulate your words as not to resemble the three listed above. Second, tip 20% or more. The bartender will recognize that you are not one of the potentially many trying to beg them to steal from their employer.
A guy walks into a bar…Let’s briefly discuss the expectations of this interaction. As your bartender my expectation of myself is to provide my guests with a memorable experience at my bar. I accomplish this through a variety of hospitality techniques, none of which are mind reading. The concept of “good” can be a lot of things. Especially considering I have invested a significant amount of time creating a list of cocktails, none of which I consider to be “bad”. Too often what happens upon presenting this work to my guests, it is immediately dismissed without review and I am asked, “What’s Good?”
The short answer to that question is everything, but what specifically you will enjoy is difficult for me to guess knowing nothing about your preferences. I know that a cocktail menu can be intimidating, especially one full of words that have little or no meaning. But at least start with the things that are familiar and that sound “good” TO YOU! If you only drink vodka, consider the vodka cocktails. You hate cucumbers? Maybe you are down to one or two selections just from this criteria. At this point it is much easier for me to give a recommendation or answer a question about an unfamiliar ingredient rather than spend ten minutes playing a guessing game or comparing preferences while my other guests are kept waiting. Taking a moment to evaluate the options is a courtesy to your bartender, other guests and will result in an overall better experience as a guest.
Indecision is understandable. Off duty bartenders are often the most indecisive and order “anything”. The thing about surprises is that not all of them are good. If you are going to ask the bartender to decide what you are going to drink, be prepared to get what you have asked for. If you are a person of particular tastes, I don’t recommend taking this approach. If you are still compelled to try this it will help your bartender if you give him or her some idea of what you like or dislike. At least narrow it down to a spirit or two and specify if you would like something with or without citrus.
“My card is the gold wells fargo one”
As I bartender I am appreciative of people who open tabs. But when closing them some feel the need to describe their card. This is typically not helpful as cards are not often unique. Sometimes there are exceptions, such as banking in another country on or a custom designed card. But even then, coincidence can be cruel. Assuming with confidence that of the stack of cards yours is unique and describe it as such, a hurried bartender may have a false sense of assurance, pull that card and return it to you. And if returned to your wallet with the same certainty the next time it is used, it may not work. Losing a card is not fun. And even less fun if you are on vacation. The one thing that will always make your card yours is your name! So simply use your name when closing your tab. This will always work out unless you have a really common name but that’s another piece of writing.
“Can you put it in another glass?”
From a bartending perspective, cocktails are put into specific glasses for a reason. Of course we are always happy to oblige with this request but there is something to be said. The glass that you drink out of says nothing about you or your sexual preferences. With that said, your choice of cocktail might though.
“Will this make me sick?”
Bartenders are not medical professionals. Most have extensive knowledge of spirits but cannot advise you about your body. You know yourself better than anyone ever will, so if you drank red wine at dinner and now you want a martini it is impossible for a stranger to know how that change of pace is going to treat you. The last thing I want is for you to feel terrible the next day and blame that on the drink I made you. You have to deal with the consequences, not the person encouraging you to drink jagermeister. Consider past experiences, make a decision, have fun or vow to never do it again and mean it.
“Is that a mojito?”
My apologies for becoming a bitter bartender for a moment here but this phenomenon is unexplainable to me. Every time I touch mint or basil (which is often) someone has to ask “Is that a mojito?”. Mint as well as other herbs have become common staples in many bar programs. There are several drinks that can use mint as an ingredient. Just because a drink has mint, or any other herb does not make it a mojito. In the event it is a mojito, you don’t win a prize or any distinct honors for your observation. If you are attempting to buddy up with the bartender or demonstrate that you are bar savvy, know that not asking this question is the faster route to achieving either.
“How much do you want me to tip you?”
Usually said loudly in a bragging fashion. Okay, trying to make friends with the bartender at a place that you are a regular is understandable and certainly tipping well is going to help that campaign. But when presented with your check, it’s poor form to ask how much money I want, it can be awkward even if you are just trying to let everyone know that you have a lot of money and are willing to spend it. If you want me to answer honestly, $1,000 and your first born child. Probably a bit much for a $60 tab huh? I agree, as a professional bartender the value of my service is what you decide it to be. If you decided 0 dollars we won’t be friends but I am not going to confront you about it. Conversely if you agreed to my ridiculous request it would have a negative impact on your life. Tipping etiquette is 20% for good service. Use this guideline and let’s avoid any awkward moments.
There will be times thought that maybe the bartender comped you some drinks and you are not sure what to tip in that situation. Higher level etiquette is to add the price of the comped drinks to your bill and tip 20% based on that. If the discounting is so extreme that you are still compelled to ask, do it quietly. The bartender doesn’t need everyone else in the room to know that you are receiving such special treatment.