15 Things Your Bartender Won't Tell You

Your bar experience may not be what you think it is. With help from BestLifeOnline.com, we take a look at 15 things your bartender won’t tell you — but that you should probably know. (Remember the tip on page 8 the next time you go out.)

1. Eye contact is the best way to get the bartender’s attention

Whether you are new to a bar or a regular, this is the best way to get your drink refilled. “From far away, I can make eye contact, and with a gesture, ask if you’re ready for a refill,” BestLifeOnline.com says.

2. Waving your money around in a crowded room is not

BestOfOnline.com insists that this is a surefire way to get a bartender to turn the other cheek is to wave your money in their face. “We just ignore you and serve the person who is standing patiently and not huffing and puffing,” one bartender tells BestLifeOnline.com

3. You probably aren’t tipping enough

This just comes down to simple math. “One buck for beer, wine, or well drinks; two bucks for cocktails; 20-percent for table service; 30-percent if it’s a holiday,” BestLifeOnline.com says. If you stick to that rule every time you go out and drink, you’ll be in good shape.

4. Never stand in the service area

It doesn’t matter how often you go to a bar or how well you know the bartender. You aren’t allowed to stand behind it, reach behind it, you name it. That also goes for standing at the area where the bartender puts drinks for the wait staff to deliver to patrons — you won’t get served if you order drinks from there.

5. ‘Make it strong’ means zilch

Your bartender isn’t going to change how they make a drink just because you asked for it to be stronger. That ruins the drink, one bartender tells VinePair.com. “Guests do need to keep in mind that the cocktails on our list have been researched, developed, tasted and tweaked to what we consider the best delivery of flavor and balance. Adding more booze throws that off.”

6. ‘Light ice’ will result in a weak drink

Again, a bartender isn’t going to change how much alcohol goes into a crafted cocktail because you want more booze in it. Asking for “light ice” is only going to ensure that you get more mixer in your drink, not more alcohol.

7. This is the mojito code

If a bartender tells you they can’t make a mojito because the bar is out of mint, they really just don’t want to make one because it takes so darn long. “The Mojito embodies every reason a bartender hates to make a cocktail,” SFGate says. “First of all, it requires fresh mint, which must be muddled — mashed with a special tool to release its flavors. This alone takes a few minutes.”

8. You should keep your tab open

Even if you end up having just one round of drinks and then closing your tab afterward, this is better than making your bartender go through the whole charade of opening and closing your tab multiple times. Plus, it saves paper.

9. They’ll happily make a connection for you

If you’re looking to chat someone up at the bar or buy someone a drink, your bartender will likely be happy to oblige. “Maybe they don’t want company, maybe they’ve had too many. But most of the time, it’s a yes, and they move down the bar to thank their benefactor,” one bartender tells Mental Floss.

10. Regulars have a perk

Most bars have a “comp tab” that allows bartenders to buy patrons drinks if they so choose to. “It’s smart business and helps build a base of regulars,” one bartender tells Reader’s Digest. Just don’t expect to always get a freebie every time you walk into your favorite watering hole.

11. You can send a drink back once

But only once. “I think customers are always entitled to a mulligan,” one bartender tells Mental Floss. “The exception is when someone tries to order something ‘experimental’ and I try to talk them out of it, and then said experiment results in a yucky beverage.” Fair enough.

12. If you get too drunk …

… your next drink is going to be nonalcoholic. “To stall a person who is over limit without having to cut them off,” one Quora user tells Insider, “you pour the cocktail mixers as normal, but for the alcohol, you ‘float’ a splash of liquor on the top of the cocktail. The drink then smells like booze, which is probably the most important element in making a drunk think they are still drinking, but the actual alcohol content is minimal.”

13. If you leave leftovers ...

… they will get eaten. One former bartender tells Insider that “some bartenders end up finishing customers’ leftovers if they know and like that customer and if they didn’t have a chance to eat during their shift.” With how busy a shift at the bar can get, we can definitely understand that.

14. Some things go bad

BestLifeOnline.com tells us vermouth is grape-based, like wine, so it can go bad. Since vermouth is the base in many cocktails, it’s best to check before ordering to see if you can spot the bottle behind the bar. “If you can see the bottle, order something else; chances are it’s been out for a while,” the site says.

15. It’s okay to tip on your credit card

But if you’re only having a drink or two, you should tip with cash. Plus, bartenders prefer that you tip with cash anyways. “Too many times people skimp when the tab gets too large, and bartenders know it,” one bartender tells Food & Wine.

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