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’s advisors.

Series & Type: TrendsBehind the Bar

From our Friends



  • Justin posted 5 years ago

    Agreed. If you need to read this article, then you really don't need to read this article... If you know what I mean.

  • mara posted 6 years ago

    to be accepted and welcomed at a watering hole make sure you go there often and make sure you don't piss anyone off. if you haven't figured that out by now, being a regular at bars isn't your biggest problem now is it?

  • Com Mentor posted 6 years ago

    P. J. Clarks is full of geezers and prostitutes

  • Jordan posted 6 years ago

    So your only advice is smile and leave a big tip? Why even write this article when your advice is pretty much don't go to crappy bars and don't be a d-bag?

  • Terry B. posted 8 years ago

    This is a very good article,well written and makes alot of sense.Hopefully,everyone will learn something from it.

  • John Coltharp - Seven Grand/Los Angeles posted 8 years ago

    Very well said.

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