Behind the Bar: The Art of Becoming a Regular

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There are few things more enjoyable than walking into your favorite bar and, without saying a word, being served a well-mixed drink. But obtaining “regular” status and its perks requires more than just showing up frequently. During your first couple of trips try to quietly blend in as you observe. You need to decide if the joint is worthy of your patronage, and you need to be accepted by the bar’s community. Don’t yell and wave money at the bartender or your chances of making a good impression (or even getting a drink) become worse than winning the lottery. Make eye contact, give a smile and hope for the best. If this tactic doesn’t work, the establishment may not be worth your effort. Never put up with unfriendly or surly bartenders no matter how cool the place. But if the service and the drinks are good, tip heavily (about 30 percent) your first couple of visits.

Here are a few more strategies that can help immeasurably in your quest to become a regular. Cheers, and turn out the lights when you leave…

The Neighborhood Bar: It’s an extension of your living room, so tread carefully. Get to know the personalities and visit when the most established bartender is on duty.

The Style Bar: This joint serves meticulous drinks to the point of geekiness, which may mean a long wait and not much conversation. Instead of tipping big, engage the bartender about the cocktails and spirits list.

The Great Bar: There are a few bars in the world, like New York City’s P.J. Clarke’s or Pegu Club, where the drinks are great and the bartenders are fast and entertaining. Behave yourself, tip large and visit often. But then, why wouldn’t you?

Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also one of Liquor.com’s advisors.

Series & Type: TrendsBehind the Bar

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