20 Ways To Make The Bartender Your Best Friend


I set out to discover the secrets of befriending the bartender and getting served faster than every other Johnny McDouchebag in a crowded bar.

I’ve spent more time on stools than an old-timey milk maid, and I fancy myself a pretty good patron. Simple things like giving good tips, treating workers like people, and not being demanding have always been staples of my stool-side manner. That still isn’t going to get you to VIP status with the bartender though; that’s just being a decent person.

While I could pretend to give you the Konami Code to 30 fast and free drinks, the truth is that there’s no way to ensure that you’re going to get great service. Getting hooked up is even tougher and will take a little luck or a Care Bear Stare. These 20 techniques should certainly improve your odds though.

Getting a bartender’s attention

(1) Start by snapping your fingers at the bartender. Nothing gets someone’s attention quite like snapping at them as if they were your mentally challenged cat with attention issues. For female bartenders, I recommend (2) yelling “Hey, sugar-tits!” Males, on the other hand, (3) prefer to be called “chief” or “boss.” All of these terms are viewed as a sign of respect in the industry.


If you happen to overhear one of the bartender’s names, especially if it’s a cool nickname like “Juice,” (4) be sure to yell their name repeatedly as if you’re friends. Bartenders love serving their friends and often times they’ll forget that you’re actually a complete stranger. If you can’t play the friend card, just (5) remember that they are your servant for the evening and should be treated as such.

If neither of these moves gets their attention, just (6) start yelling your order at one of the bartenders while they’re making someone else’s drink. Technically that makes you next, regardless of what kind of rotation they’re using. Remember — it’s not cutting if you’re the loudest.

Picking Your Poisons

Be sure to use the drink ordering process to impress your friends. Once you have the bartender’s attention, (7) make each person feel important by individually asking what they want. (8) Relay the order to the bartender one drink at a time. They work in a bar, so it follows that they are certainly not intelligent. They’ll obviously get confused if you tell them your complete order at once, Also, much like when you are making sweet, sweet love, (9) eye contact should be avoided at all costs. You wouldn’t want the schmuck making your drinks to think you respect him or her as a person.

While an empty cocktail lounge is an awkward place to talk to a bartender, a packed frat-fest is the ideal place to chat about complex cocktails. (10) Be sure to order a Ramos Gin Fizz because it’s easiest way to get on a bartender’s good side. This is also the perfect time to trust the mixologist’s instincts. (11) Just tell them you want a Jameson and assume they know what to do. If you are too specific (shot, rocks, twist of lemon, sweet ‘n’ low), then it’s your fault if the drink sucks. By not telling them what you actually want, you can then complain regardless of what shows up.

While there may not be a Patron Bill of Rights on the wall, there are certainly unwritten rules that are common knowledge. (12) The garnish tray is on top of the bar instead of behind it because it’s self-serve. They have tons of those things, so go ahead and stick your fingers in there and take as many cherries as you want. And when it comes to beers, (13) be sure to ask what they have on tap. Just because you are standing directly in front of all of them doesn’t mean you should be required to read.


An extra insider tip for you: (14) If you ask for a “strong one” or for less ice, you will automatically get more alcohol. Bars are in the hospitality business, not the revenue business, so you can easily cheat them out of an entire second drink’s worth of booze just because they want the glass to appear full. (15) Don’t Tweet or Tumbl this too many times, because if the bars start to catch on the free ride will be over.

Tackling the Tab

Make sure you (16) don’t thank them when your drink finally arrives. No one thanks me for filling out my TPS reports, why would I thank them just for doing their job? They are getting paid and that should be all the gratitude they need. (17) If they are ridiculously attractive, you can consider leaving a tip as an extra reward. Regardless of how much the tab was, (18) the change should suffice as a tip. It doesn’t matter if it was $2.50 or $15.50; the leftover fifty cents is the appropriate.

One thing many people forget is that all bartenders are lazy, so you’re giving them a much needed short break when you (19) don’t have your money ready when your drinks arrive. Another great way to help out is by (20) repeatedly paying with a credit card. Have them close it out each time you order a drink because it gives them an extra minute of just hanging out instead of serving other customers.

Avoid These Faux Pas

Following my guidelines will surely you the bartender’s best friend after just one visit. Here are a few things to avoid at all costs. They’ll probably get you kicked out of the bar.

  • Ordering from one bartender all night. They’ll get jealous of each other and start a chair fight.
  • Tipping cash after every drink, even with credit card tab open. Too much counting.
  • Reading the over-sized “Today’s Specials” sign instead of letting the bartender recite them.
  • Putting the phone away before stepping to the bar. They’ll think you’re a loser with no friends.
  • Offering to buy them a drink. They work in a bar and therefore hate drinking.

Leave any of your best tips and tricks below. I’m sure all the other degenerates reading this would appreciate the help as well. I’d also recommend keeping this article away from all your bartender friends. You don’t want them to know that you’ve learned how to game the system.

A version of this originally appeared on Guyism before rye whiskey was popular.

Colin Joliat
About Colin Joliat 347 Articles
Colin Joliat is the brains behind this rinky-dink operation. He covers the alcohol industry with two parts information, one part comedy, and one part WTF is wrong with this guy. He's written for Brobible, Guyism, Thrillist, CoolMaterial, Craft, and more.