The Basics Tips & Tricks

10 Things Not to Do in a Bar

Bars bring the best and, unfortunately, the worst out of people. While most nights are fun and entertaining for both patrons and staff, we’ve seen all kinds of bad behavior over the years—from the rude and obnoxious to just plain scary.

So in an effort to help make everybody’s experience a little bit better, we’ve put together a cheat sheet of 10 common things you should never do in a bar. (Not that you would ever dream of doing any of these things.) We hope it helps!


Watch Now: 10 Things Not to Do in a Bar

  • Don’t be a bad tipper

    Sure, it’s not always easy figuring out how much of a tip to leave for drinks. But that doesn’t mean you should be stingy. In fact, our advisory board of mixological luminaries suggests leaving at least 20 percent and even more if you get special service. So, if you’re racking up a hefty tab or plan to become a regular, be sure to tip well.

  • Don’t wave money to get a bartender’s attention

    Why not? It’s rude, not to mention that it won’t convince a bartender to serve you first. Instead, make eye contact and be patient. You just may get your drinks faster!

  • Forget about hitting on the bartender

    Everyone’s had a crush on a bartender, which means he or she has heard just about every line ever dreamed up. So, forget about trying one on your favorite barkeep. Instead, strike up a conversation if it isn’t too busy. If the bartender isn’t reciprocating, don’t take this as a personal challenge; just move on and let him or her work.

  • Don’t order cocktails in a beer bar (or beer in a cocktail bar)

    Surprised that your Martini doesn’t taste right? Well, you may be in the wrong type of bar. Generally, we’ve found it’s best to order cocktails in a cocktail bar and beer in a beer bar. While there are, of course, exceptions to this rule (and many places offer great mixed drinks and brews), it holds up in most establishments.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • Don’t make the bartender pick your drink for you

    These days, cocktail menus can be quite long, with dozens of options. So no one would blame you for enlisting the bartender’s help to make a decision. But ultimately, the decision has to be yours. The more info about your likes and dislikes (sweet vs. dry, rocks vs. up, fruity vs. boozy) you can give the bartender, the better he or she can guide you.

  • Don’t order a bourbon drink in a tequila bar or a tequila drink in a bourbon bar

    As a general rule of thumb, stick with a bar’s area of strength. And these days, many establishments specialize in one type of liquor, whether it be rum, bourbon or Scotch. Take a look behind the bar or on the menu, and if you see a preponderance of a single spirit, order it. Not only will the staff have deep knowledge, but they’ll also be able to create more delicious drinks with it.

  • Don’t leave a huge mess in the bar

    This sounds pretty obvious, but when we asked bartenders on our Facebook page about the worst mess they had ever had to clean up, we got some surprising—even shocking—answers. After reading the comments, I think you’ll agree that bartending definitely qualifies for Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. If you do have a spill (or something worse), you should at least offer to help clean it up.

  • Don’t ask for a free round

    Let’s get one thing straight: A free drink is not a right. Whether a bartender buys you a round is up to him or her, no matter how many drinks you’ve ordered. And we can pretty much guarantee that demanding one isn’t going to help the situation. So if you’re lucky enough to get a freebie, enjoy it—and, of course, tip well.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • Don’t insult the bartender’s choice of profession

    When chatting with your bartender, we suggest not asking questions like “what do you want to do when you grow up?” or “what’s your real job?” These types of questions are not only patronizing but presume that bartending is not a real profession or a suitable career, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a serious job that requires rigorous training and study of mixology and hospitality.

  • Don’t request off-the-wall drinks another bartender made for you

    “So the other night, this dude at another bar made me this awesome drink that was blue and it had vodka in it and some kind of juice...” No matter how talented the bartender is, this is not going to end well. It’s pretty tough to recreate a drink for you based on a vague description, and that’s not to mention that the bar may not even have the right ingredients. Unless you can produce a full recipe, complete with measurements, it’s best to try something else.