How to buy a drink & not be an idiot


Right, listen up, because bartender Jess Matthews is dispensing invaluable advice on the etiquette of ordering drinks:

The world of hospitality spins on a completely different axis to the rest of the ‘normal’ world. Certainly not an occupation for the faint-hearted, as a bartender you are privy to some of the most incomprehensible, bizarre, private moments of society as patrons unravel over, through and into their beverages. Being a bartender has taught me many things; how to function between the hours of 9pm to 5am, the beauty of Sundays, that observation truly is an art form, that logic and practicality are foreign concepts in the modern world, how to turn drinks into meals, the glory of going against the grain and most importantly the ability to smile at someone whilst imagining punching them in the face repeatedly.

Here’s some tips to best negotiate the world of bars and appease us, because guess what… we have access to the alcohol! And therefore the key to your happiness, your social ability, skills of seduction and success of your night. We provide the world with the sweet nectar that allows it to be bound in blissful harmony. Be nice to a bar tender and your life (and drinks) will be a whole lot better!

1. Be prepared. If it is busy at the bar KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO BUY BEFORE YOU ARE SERVED. It really shouldn’t be a strenuous ordeal for you to tally up the number of drinks you want… you have 10 fingers and 10 toes. Use ‘em.

2. Once you buy your drink MOVE AWAY FROM THE BAR. Lets just say bartenders are possessive, territorial and on edge.

3. NEVER ask for more alcohol. Personally I never pour less than 30mls of booze into drinks unless I hate you. More often than not, bartenders are generous so if I’m asked to make it strong, *wink wink* I generally respond with evasive belligerence by UNDERpouring and the standard “go fuck yourself” look.

4. NEVER tap the bar or whistle at the staff to get their attention. I am not a dog or a taxi and I will just ignore you for longer.

5. I am well aware that (unless you’re reading this in the US) you are not obliged to tip. HOWEVER if a bar tender makes you 47 sugar-rimmed, layered shots, complex cocktails, sets shit on fire or obviously goes out of their way for you then you should tip. It’s rude not to. A side-note, if I ever go on a date to a bar and the gentleman in question picks up silver coins from a tip tray I’m mentally padlocking my chastity belt before the 40c hits his pocket. Definitely not a panty dropper.

6. For those slow kids up the back. Buying beverages in bars is not dissimilar to most business transactions. You order beverages, receive said beverages, AND THEN PAY FOR THEM. It’s not rocket science. Have money ready.

7. Yes, that is a tips glass. It is filled with grenadine and soda water and no you cant drink from it. Touch it and I will cut off your hands.

8. If a bartender tells you they can’t pour you a drink for whatever reasons… licensing laws, you’re too pissed, mildly irritating or the bar is SHUT, don’t argue! Get over it and move on (preferably to another bar).

9. Don’t change drinks half way through your order. We will hate you!!

10. Don’t tell me to smile. If I’m not smiling it is not necessarily because I’m angry. This is my working face. I am working, you are getting pissed and dancing like an idiot. Let’s leave it that way.

11. YOLO?! Get out.

12. Cocktails are not necessarily pretty. Ever heard the expression: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Yeh.

13. Don’t go to a bar and make the very obvious comment that it is loud. It’s a bar. It’s loud and messy. Here’s an idea: if you want to make a conference call champ, go home… not to a bar.

14. Do NOT ask if you can pay for your drink separately from your friend. You are an adult. Behave like one. Said friend will purchase you a drink later. It’s called a round, homie.

15. If you wanna pretend you’re a pimp, here’s a note to self: it’s pronounced Mo-et. even Biggie manages to lyrically fold his tongue around it correctly mid rap so don’t be an ignorant knob.

16. Hey boys, chick bartenders think its really bad ass when you do shots of Absinthe, Bacardi 151 or chartreuse to impress us. NOT. We do think its funny to see you choke when you’re trying to swallow it though.

17. Wave money at me and I’ll assume you want a lap dance. Only, this is not Showgirls and you won’t get one. Instead that pineapple will go in my back pocket and stay there. How’s that for asssss?

18. “Hey BABY, gimme 3 Jack Daniels and yo numBA” is NOT an original pick up line.

19. If I roll my eyes, that means NO.

20. Vodka, ‘fresh lime’ & soda? Whattya think i’m gonna do? Pull a kaffir lime leaf outta my ass and put it in your drink? We know its fresh lime.

21. Don’t suck face at the bar. If you do, prepare to duck when we throw chunks of ice at you. Ain’t nobody got time for that.



Words by Jess Matthews