11 Ways to Become Besties With Your Bartender

By Julieanne Smolinski |

Is that heavy pour for you or him? © Library of Congress

Getting on a bartender's good side can mean the difference between service with a smile, or service with a resentful spittle float. Luckily, bartenders are largely very easy to charm. All of them. All.

PBR or Perrier-Jouët, it always tastes better if the person serving it genuinely cares about you, and luckily, whether they do is largely up to you.

Just because you're only there for an hour or two doesn't mean your bartender doesn't want to be your best friend. Here are a few easy tips to help you enchant the bejesus out of them.

First, show up to the bar a little drunk. This way, half of the bartender's work is already done.

If the bartender is very busy, she will need a lot of notice that you are thirsty and in need of a drink. Cough, clap, bleat. Make a windmilling gesture with your arms. Even better: Make a little cash fan to wave at her, like an elegant, antebellum debutante.

If the bartender is really slammed, he is probably very tired and in need of a little respite. Why not order something super complicated? Something with many ingredients and a lot of steps—maybe something that requires muddling, or better yet, being gently layered from a blender. This will give him a little "me" time for quiet self-reflection.

If the bartender, however, does not seem to be very occupied, she is probably very bored and would probably like to know a little about you. If you don't want to talk about your personal life, just tell her how you think the president is doing, your feelings about rain or what actresses you think are not pretty enough to be on TV.

Remember, the bartender wants you to be happy too. A good way to let him know you're having a great time is shouting. Try something like, "I'm having a great time!" Or, "I love this song!"

Are you at a bar with a light, domestic beer on tap? Ask for your favorite pre-Prohibition cocktail. If the bartender has not heard of it, let her know how to make it, in great detail. She will be happy to have learned a new skill. The Buddha said that the sharing of knowledge is like giving someone a jewel. Share the jewel of your knowledge! Who wouldn't want to be friends with you? You are very Buddha-like!


© Everett Collection, Inc. / Alamy

Does your bartender have a mustache? That means he is in a bluegrass band. Let him know you're in the know by asking, "I like your mustache. Are you in a bluegrass band?"

One of the bartender's favorite part of the job is choosing the prices for all of the drinks. Sometimes, the owner of the bar will sit down with the bartender and the owner will choose a price for a drink, and the bartender will say, "No, bar owner. That is too low!" If you think something is too expensive, tell the bartender! He will likely realize his error, and make it cheaper for you.

My great-grandfather owned a saloon in Akron, Ohio. When asked on his deathbed if he had any regrets, he said, "I only wish that more people who came into my bar asked me to 'surprise' them." I've never forgotten this, and neither should you.

As the old joke goes, all bartenders are part-time psychologists. Ask your bartender to try to see which mental conditions or Freudian fixations you've been diagnosed with. Then, try to guess his! He'll be especially grateful, because many people in the service industry don't have health insurance.

Everybody likes to feel pretty. Even your bartenders! When you've had a few drinks, tell your bartenders how beautiful they are. It's OK to get graphic! Remember, you're friends. You're best friends.

Related: America's Best Cocktail Bars
Signs Your Bartender Is Doing It Wrong
Jim Meehan’s Cocktail Primer: Terminology, Essential Equipment and Recommended Reading

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