Guide to Ordering in Bars by a Bartender

To help you order in the best way possible.

Something you realize as soon as you start working in service — bartender, waiter, cashier, etc. — is that ordering isn’t exactly as simple as saying “Margarita!”. Being robotic like this will only help you get on the wrong side of the barman. Trust me, even though this seems common sense, I have already encountered people like this by dozen.

I have been a bar addict for years and a bartender for a couple of months. And my personal way of getting a drink in bars changed a lot in the last few months. That’s why I’ve decided to write a small guide for customers, describing the three pillars of ordering drinks in bars. So, to help you order in the best way possible — and potentially get free drinks — here is my advice.

Get the Context

What’s the ambiance?

Always feel the room when you want to order something. Are there two or ten people at the bar? Does the bartender seem busy? What’s the ambiance? Those factors should not discourage you from ordering. They should serve as hints on how you should order.

If the bar is full, don’t expect special treatment. However, if the bar is empty, feel free to be a little more creative with your order. It is our job as bartenders to serve you. We will be more than happy to make custom cocktails or take our time to exchange with you. But we cannot do so when the bar is full.

What type of bar are you in?

Bars aren’t all the same. You should not order the same way if you’re partying in a nightclub as if you’re in a cocktail club. That’s precisely why you’ll make the barman nervous if you order a Last Word in a nightclub. Firstly, some bartenders who only work in a single type of bar might not know the drink you ask. I’ve been working for a few months now, and there is still a lot of cocktail I don’t know. We would love to learn about this new drink you’re ordering, but other customers might not like the idea of waiting 5 more minutes before getting their turn. Also, a much more severe problem is that we might not have the necessary product. If you ask for an Old Fashioned in a bar that only has low-end whisky, the bartender might not want to do the cocktail.

Choose your drink: ask for tastes

I see lots of customers hesitating too much about their order. And this mostly comes from the fact that they do not know the cocktails. A good thing to do in this situation is to ask the barman for what he recommends. Of course, don’t be this one person that asks for the “best cocktail.” Be specific. Give your tastes. For example, I know I like sour and sweet drinks — such as a Caïpirinha — so whenever I go to a cocktail bar, I would ask for a drink corresponding to my tastes. The good thing about this ordering method is that you also skip the part where you ask for a cocktail the bartender can’t make. Don’t forget; we are also here to assess your needs and preferences and making recommendations. Cocktails machines would else replace bartender!

Of course, if you already know about your drink: perfect, just go for it!

Be nice

We are no machine. We also like to talk, laugh, exchange about our hobbies, or be respected. This is true for everything in life, but you’ll always profit more if you’re friendly. It goes without saying — even though I have lots of customers that do not seem to be aware of that — but saying ‘Hi!’, ‘How are you?’ or ‘Thank you.’ is the least you can do when asking someone to work for you. You, being nice, friendly, and joyful, will significantly encourage the bartender to be nice to you in return.

If you’re in a good mood, you can always introduce us in the conversation you’re having with this friend you’re ordering with. It is enjoyable for us to exchange with you. And don’t worry, we’ll not be real actors in the conversation since we’ll only attend it for an instant.

Of course, it is also our job to be friendly and pleasant to you. There is no doubt about that. If the bar is calm, we should be the ones to engage in the conversation.

You should now be ready for your next adventure in a bar. Those are all great advice I would give my friend. But the most important thing is not to forget the person of you is as human as you. So be calm, be friendly, and we will love you for sure!

Science & tech enthusiasts. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” A. Einstein

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