Thirsty Thursdays: Bar etiquette

Aug 15, 2013
143 Views

You and the boys are headed out for the evening. You pressed your shirt. These jeans cost more than your first car. You got yourself that new cologne that the hot brunette from accounting told you about and mixed with those pheromones you’re excreting, this is the sort of night that you will tell your grandkids about. You pre-game at your buddy’s apartment, which has a view of Lake Michigan. It’s all Grey Goose and sodas and you’re pouring them heavy. You’re telling a story about how Grey Goose is made from water filtered with double reverse osmosis. You make a Michael Jordan reverse dunk joke.

People fucking love you.

You and the boys check your look in the mirror. Gotta head out. You got reservations at the hip sushi restaurant that everyone in Chitown loves. Can’t wait to get that lean protein, a little salmon and super white tuna, hold the rice. You don’t have time for two things: carbs or ladies who ain’t blonde. This food is perfect to couple with the CrossFit and P90X combo you’ve been hammering out.

“I’m gonna destroy some sushi, bro.”

The hostess tells you you’ll have to wait at the bar.

That’s when you meet me.

I’ve met you 100 times and I hate you. I want to help you, but like the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church, I’m pretty sure you’re beyond help. In fact, I have a list of things that should help you when you’re in public. Instead of acting like a chimpanzee slinging shit at a fan, I suggest you follow these rules:

1. Know what you’re drinking

Nothing chaps my ginger hide more than some bumbling ass-hat who has been standing at the bar for five minutes and still hasn’t decided what they’re drinking. You’ve been holding the menu since you walked in, you illiterate git. Read it and decide. I’ll be glad to give you a recommendation, but at least know what spirit you want. I got other shit to do. Order with conviction and own it. I actually don’t judge you for what you drink, but I do judge you for being indecisive. If I wanted to deal with someone who took this long to make a decision, I’d hangout with LeBron James.

2. Don’t ever snap your fingers

You just added 10 minutes to your wait. I can find other things to do. There are drinks for the restaurant to be made or I can go yell broken Spanish curse words at the cooks and dishwashers. Anything so I don’t have to deal with you. You think I give an empty bottle of cheap Scotch if you tell my manager? I barely care about waking up in the morning, let alone being fired. Go tell it on a mountain if you’d like, but you’ll wait it out. Plus, what kind of deranged narcissist does this? For the first time in your life, locate some respect for your fellow man, you Nazi asshole.

3. Get off your cell phone

Big-timer, huh? Who you talkin’ to? Unless it’s Barack Obama and he’s explaining why he and his cronies get wet off of droning poor people, I doubt it’s juicy enough to give me the index-finger and mouth at me, “one sec.” Am I Portuguese Water Dog? Explain to me how any phone call could be more important than alcohol and I’ll eat my hat and wash it down with Grey Goose.

4. “Make it stiff, hey there barkeep.”

I got something stiff for you. You want a drink with more alcohol? Fair enough. Pony up for it. This isn’t your living room. If it were, your mom would probably send you to your room. I don’t own the booze. If I did, I’d be in the office counting my money. I wouldn’t, as Melvin Udall once said, be slinging the last legal drug to morons. Also, if you are ordering a Beam and coke and want extra Beam, how ’bout just cutting out the Coke altogether? That’s whiskey on the rocks. Of course you’d need to have some rocks of your own to order that. And you probably don’t.

5. I don’t know everything

It was painful to write that heading, but it’s true. There are thousands of drinks. I know lots of them and if you give me a booze, I’ll create something to your tastes and often people enjoy it. But I don’t know every drink. You can order it, but I have one major rule: know what you’re drinking. Don’t be pissed at me if I don’t know what’s in an Eskimo’s Nipple if you don’t know either. Tell me the ingredients and then we’ll go to it. You shouldn’t be drinking something if you don’t know what’s in it. Would you agree to a blind date without seeing the person? Does that analogy make sense? Either way, both of those things are silly.

6. Tipping

You know what I wish? I wish I were a novelist or literature professor banging co-eds, but I don’t make the rules. Sometimes there are rules that are in place you don’t have to like, but simply have to accept. Like that Tuck Rule in the NFL. Or coke being illegal. Or the fact that servers and bartenders survive on tips. You don’t like the rule? Stay. Fucking. Home. I make seven bucks an hour. That’s 7 if you need to read it as a numeral. Feel free to not tip if the service is exceptionally shitty and your server or bartender was fumbling around like Mark Sanchez. But the reality is that this is part of the “going out experience.” People have argued with me that the fry cook at McDonald’s doesn’t get tips so why should we? And I actually don’t have a straight answer for that. All I can say is that the fry cook should probably learn how to bartend.

Kenneth Griggs is a writer and bartender living in Chicago, IL. He has hitchhiked through the Australian Outback; lived in a small fishing village in Japan; climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He spent six years as a feature writer for a daily and weekly newspaper and has two unpublished novels to his name. But his finest accomplishment is not yet sprouting a gin blossom nose.

  • Pete

    I’m taking umbrage with point #4 over here on the other side of the bar. While I agree to this point in principal, I don’t deserve free or extra stuff, there are many, MANY, bartenders out there that know as much about pouring a drink as they do about quantum physics. I know this because they are almost always serving me my drinks.

    There is an unspoken social understanding that when you go to a bar you are agreeing to pay a premium for alcohol (the tip, as you mentioned, is part of this agreement). I’m paying extra for the service, the nice glassware, the happy atmosphere, and for the chance that I might stumble face first into a cute brunette with heaving breasts. All of these things are unfortunately absent in my homestead and so I pony up the extra cost, but there is another side to this agreement – I better get what I’m paying for. I can’t tell you how many times I order some form of nicer whiskey and get robbed by the careless chemistry of some doofus who doesn’t know what a finger of bourbon looks like. Now I’m out 8 bucks and sober as a nun all because Jimmy over here only drinks bottled domestics and presumably beats his wife.

    • Dexter’s Library

      Hard to argue with this. I guess I give most barkeeps the benefit of the doubt. If the first one they pour seems slim, I might say something. There’s also a chance that 1.5 ounces is what they’re told to pour. Of course there’s also a chance that the bartender is a complete boob and he deserves to be berated and should be a fry cook at McDonald’s.

      • Pete

        Trust me, I sympathize plenty with bartenders. Most people are dumb enough when they’re sober – add some alcohol and now you’re essentially dealing with some sort of zoo animal with a credit card and self-entitlement issues. If you’re an attractive female bartender this list is even longer.

        • Dexter’s Library

          Then in Chicago you have this “mixologist” thing and bartenders think they’re scientifically inclined like Walter fucking White. We measure things for living. Please stop.