Archive for the ‘Bar Culture’ Category


New Math

December 7, 2008

Dear Bartender: I’m no mathematician, but I’ve been thinking… If I go to a bar and drink 8 beers, tipping a dollar each beer, at $5 a pop I’ll spend $48.00. BUT, if I drink 8 beers and tip TWO dollars each time — and, as a consequence, the bartender comps me every fourth beer (not an unreasonable expectation, I hope) — I’ll spend only $46.00. It’s win/win for everyone! I’ve saved myself two bucks and doubled the bartender’s income. No small thing in these troubled times, am I right?


Dear Wizard: Yes, if you choose your bartender wisely. Think of yourself as Congress and your bartender as one of the Big Three; no sensible person should invest in something clueless.


Yet again

August 3, 2008

Dear Readers: I got the following two letters recently:

Dear Bartender: So, Saturday night I went to a bar with a group of friends and I decided to buy a round of drinks. I’m usually a nice customer and I asked the bartender to take a shot with me and tipped him well after he closed my tab.

I asked for his name and I told him mine. He then told me that he is moving to a different bar and will be working there Tues and Wed. I asked if he was going to remember me if I go visit and he said yes.

Is he working me to become a regular customer or was he interested?

And the 2nd letter:

Dear Bartender: About a month and a half ago I was introduced to a bartender at the bar where my coworkers and I were having drinks. I’d always assumed that his flirty attitude was him simply “doing his job.” Recently though he suggested I go to a bar where he was going after work. i asked if the place was worth going to, and he replied I will be there so of course it was worth going to. I went and we spent most of the night talking, sharing our life stories, he introduced me to some of his friends, and anytime he would leave he would assure me that he would be right back. I am still quite apprehensive simply because he is a bartender.

Is he really interested?

So, Readers, I was tempted to simply say that I’ve answered this question before (and not just once, either) — but then I read the second letter more carefully.

People: Bartenders flirt. Enjoy it. Have fun. By all means, flirt back. But it’s a safe bet in the end he’s not trying to sleep with you.

I gotta admit, however, that if he invites you out to another bar, one he doesn’t work at, and spends the entire night exchanging life stories and introducing you to his friends — you may indeed have found your next squeeze.


It’s raining, it’s pouring…

May 5, 2008

Dear Bartender: How do you know when to cut someone off? And when you do cut someone off, how do you do it?


Dear Slushy: The when depends on the who. I don’t cut everyone off at the same point of drunkenness. Some factors: Is he driving? What kind of drunk is he — happy, messy, angry, weepy? (Angry gets cut off first.) How familiar am I with his tolerance? I have a cheat sheet in my head of the regulars who can cross that fine line with little warning.

If it’s someone I don’t know, I watch how he interacts with the other customers — you know, to see if he’s bothering anyone or is getting sloppy. I’ve even cut off guys I didn’t know well who weren’t yet drunk but were drinking so much so fast that, should they suddenly cross some digital shift into totally plastered, I’d be pretty screwed if I had to tell my boss I’d only served him twenty gin rickies.

The how is easier. In a word: clearly. You don’t have to be mean about it if you’ve left no room for negotiation.

Cheers. Next one’s on me.


He Love Me, He Love Me Not

April 15, 2008

Dear Bartender: So here is my situation: Yes at the local bar where my friends and I go all of the time I have a huge crush on the bartender! I know, I know avoid at all costs! However, he happens to be friends of my friends as well so he isn’t just some random bartender.

Anyway I let him know I was interested (getting drunk and giving him my number – I know mistake number 1!). I didn’t expect anything when I woke up the next day, I even felt a little dumb about seeing him again, but now every time I come in to his bar he hugs me, usually doesn’t charge me, tells me not to tip him and sometimes when I come to the bar to order a drink he will just lean over the bar to kiss me on my cheek! Even if the bar is packed he will take time out to talk to me or if I’m leaving, to leave the bar to give me a hug goodbye! And even when the bar is packed, I will look over at him and well catch each other’s eyes.

The other night when I came in he was just managing the bar so he wasn’t technically bartending. He came over and sat with me and talked to me all night. And we talked about real substantive things – like books, religion, etc. Then my friends were going to the store and I had mentioned I needed cigarettes and he just gave them money for them and asked my friends to buy them for me (he even knew what kind I smoked). When I was leaving he tried to get me to stay but I needed to wake up for work so I left. However, he hasn’t tried calling me or even asked me out.

I dated a bartender/bar owner for a long time so I get it: you’re a bartender. Your job is to flirt with pretty girls, make them come back, buy drinks etc. Girls try to hit on you all the time. But this time I think the guy may really be into me but I don’t know how to take it outside the bar where he works. I think he just takes for granted that he will see me at the bar at least once a week! Or maybe this is just an ego thing because I made it apparent I was into him? I’m not sure – am I confusing the signs? Is he just doing what a bartender should do? When is it bartender etiquette and when does the bartender ever like the girl?

Totally confused!

Dear ‘fused: You’re confused for a very good reason: this guy is doing everything he can think of to ‘fuse you. God knows what his agenda is but he’s sure not trying to be your boyfriend. Don’t tell him I told you, though, or those free drinks will disappear quicker than you can do a shot of Key Lime Pie.

He’s playing games. It’s his job. You know this already.

And, maybe I’m being too cynical here, but… that part about not tipping? He only means for you to tip him more subtly.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I or any other bartender hasn’t hit on a customer and meant it once or twice. It’s just that, when we do, you won’t have to ask if we’re serious.



February 21, 2008

Dear Bartender: I was recently put into the unfortunate role of bar room snitch at one of my standard local watering holes. It was a Friday night and a few members of the kindergarten crew in the bar, those just barely 21 years old or those underage that snuck in somehow, were packing bottles from 6-packs bought at the deli across the street in their jeans and jacket pockets with no intention of buying drinks from the bar. At some random bar I might turn a blind eye, but as a frequent regular of this neighborhood establishment I felt it was my civic duty to inform the doorman of this outrageous infraction by which he responded by bouncing the youthful culprits, naturally to much protest. Am I a shameful rat or a righteous whistleblower (a la Serpico)?


Dear Stevie: Right on, whistleblower. You disappointed nobody but the pedophiles. These kids should be home sniffing glue — not clogging up bars. Don’t feel guilty about it. The way I see it, these kids would be just as quick to chase you out if you crashed one of their parties, unless you were, by chance, the guy in the clown suit with the twisty balloons he can turn into animals.

Balloon Dog


Ladies Loving Ladies

January 29, 2008

Dear Bartender: What’s the current word on ladies who come into the bar, get a little drunk and start making out? They’re not lesbians, they just like to make out when they’re drinking. Is it considered dumb by the bartenders? Passe??? Is it excusable behavior? Should said ladies stay out of the bar for a while? Do bartenders always remember the silly behavior of the patrons??


PDA Problems

Dear PDA: Why do you care so much about what the bartenders think? Bartenders have more to worry about than who kisses whom after a few dozen cocktails. Frankly, when women come into my bar, I’m happy if they’re kissing and not pulling each other’s hair. I’ve seen women drunk, I know what I’m talking about.


You Can’t Go Home Again

January 9, 2008

Dear Bartender: I have recently moved back to my hometown and thought it would be good to get out and mingle. I called up a friend and we decided to go to a local bar to see if anyone we knew still worked there. The bar was under new ownership so the entire staff had changed. The place was busy for a weeknight so we sat down and I ordered my usual drink.

As the night went on my friend left me to go over to a table with some random guys and I stayed at the bar watching TV. I started asking the bouncer and bartender if they knew what had happened to the old staff, and if they still came in every so often. After we chatted for a bit him and the bartender told me they thought it was funny how I had shrugged guys off throughout the night that were trying to buy me drinks. I told them I wasn’t interested in guys buying me drinks, I was able to buy my own. I also hate when guys try to get in my space when they are drunk, its not a turn on! They found me amusing and we ended up talking for the next hour while my friend was over getting drunk with the random guys who had hit on us earlier. When I asked for the check he asked me if I would come back in some time, I told him maybe but probably not because I am not big into the bar scene.

He gave me my check and I looked up at him because I noticed he had taken off a couple of drinks, he smiled and started helping another customer. He came back over and asked me again why I would not come back in. I told him if he was that concerned about not seeing me again he should just ask me for my phone number. He got super red and the bouncer I was talking with all night started giving him a hard time. He encouraged the bartender to get my number and take me out. I told him we should all go out, it would be a good time. The bouncer suggested we meet back at the bar in a couple days and all go out from there. I told them that would be ok but I didn’t want to stay at the bar. The bouncer gave me his number and told me to call him if I couldn’t make it. I was a little unsure because the bartender was so hesitant to get my number, but agreed to meet up in a couple of days to go out.

Are they just trying to get people to come into the bar? I am up for hanging out with new people but I don’t want to show up with my friend and feel like a complete fool!

Foolishly Flirty

Dear Flirty: I’ve distilled your question down to this: A bartender bought you a couple of drinks and then acted like he didn’t want to go out on a date. Are you missing something?

Yes. He wants you to come to the bar. It’s a compliment: he wants attractive customers. But forget any designs you may have had on a relationship with him outside of the box.

The bouncer, on the other hand, is ready to rumble. If you meet up with him, pack extra condoms.