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Proper Bar Etiquette

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Thanks for your participation - this stuff is gold.

It was a running joke back in my college bartending days how some customers would approach a busy bar and start yelling for service. As soon as you made it over, they would take 5 minutes to decide what they wanted.

We thought a handbook on "Proper Bar Etiquette for better service" would solve our problems.

What would you include in your handbook that would help novices make the most of their King Cocktail experience?

PS - I always admired (and still do) the gentleman barman that could work a busy shift in a shirt and tie, never look hurried, and never spill a drop.

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Hi Gordon,

Sadly more often then not the problem lies with unfriendly bartenders. Sure in certain club environments with music so loud it would shatter fine glassware it is ridiculous to expect any civility from customer or the bartender...it is basically a free for all.

But in the rest of the bar world, bar restaurants, bar bars people for the most part are civil. What happens often is they will question a drink and the bartenders reaction is way out of line, often angry that the drink was even ordered (exotics like frozen or hard recipes …sling zombie) or he will reply “that is the way we make it here” with a shove if you don’t like it attitude implied.

All that bravado is usually the result of poor training. The bartender seldom has the level of training a line cook has and so he reacts with anger. You should be able to get a sidecar that tastes like a sidecar and not feel completely cowed to mention it to the bartender if it doesn’t. Drinks have recipes! “That is how we make it here” is not a proper reply…I want the drink I ordered not the drink you make here.

On the other side of the coin if the guest is difficult then the bartender has only two roads, the fist is the most obvious. As my boss Joe Baum would say to me with a difficult guest, “Dale make this guy a friend, if you can’t no one can” after all, that is one of the skills he hired me for .. The ability to turn difficult people into friends and good customers. Second, after heroic effort if all fails then maybe your place is not the right place for that particular guest. BUT a bartender can’t follow suit and lose it with guests because a bartender is the proprietor of a public space …he sets the tone and a barman who continually loses his cool with difficult guests will create a space that is unfriendly.

With training comes confidence in craft … and with confidence in craft comes skill with people…


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