Bar Manners 101

I’ve recently learned I’m not the most cultured of people. My Irish friends have to slow down when speaking to me, my New Zealand friends need to translate what fizzy drinks are and how kiwi is not a fruit to them, and my Jamaican friends have to explain that Captain Morgan is well rum to them.

In the U.S. I’ve learned that travelers lack the same cultural understanding, allow me to enlighten you good people.

How to Talk to Your Bartender: Do’s & Don’ts


Tip appropriately, in the U.S. bartenders live off of tips and get hourly pay well under minimum wage. We all know you can open a beer on your own but you probably can’t make a round of pistachio shots in a minute while the people on the other end of the bar are drunkenly screaming at you for five different drinks over the loud music blasting. Tipping is simply about the courtesy, comradery, and the environment the bartenders are adding to by serving you your beverages. A guideline to go by is tipping a dollar a drink, $2-3 on time-consuming cocktails, and if it’s a tab close to or exceeding three digits go with a percentage of 15%-25% based off the quality of the drinks and service.

Be patient, if the bar is slammed and you just walked up out of the blue be prepared to wait five minutes, after ten is when you’re being ignored.


Snap your fingers, yell, or wave the bartenders over.

Grab your bartenders attention without at least having an idea of what you want.

Ask for them to recite all their drafts and specials then order a Budlight.

Be messy: spilling your drinks, wiping your face or blowing your nose with beverage napkins, spitting or putting out cigarettes into drinking cups.

Walk out on your tab – ever!

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