The Dos and Don s of Bartending

The Dos and Don s of Bartending

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  1. Bartending has been around since Man first figured out how to distill alcohol from grains, which I believe was shortly after South Americans had their first encounter with space aliens (surely you’ve read—or more likely have seen—Chariots of the Gods).  Who knows, maybe the aliens taught them how to make stills, just for the entertainment value of watching humans stumble around drunkenly.  That would have been my prime motivation.

    For a long time, there have been unwritten but oft-spoken rules to tending bar.  Because our government has nothing better to do with its time when it isn’t destroying the economy or stealing land from hapless citizens, many of these rules are now laws, at least in some states.  But whether the Law forces you to follow certain guidelines or not, any bartender would be a fool not to employ a basic set of dos and don’ts when it comes to their job.


    The first of these is not a law or even a common rule, at least not these days because it has become so popular among certain circles of morons, and that’s “Fancy Bartending.”  Avoid this if you can, because as cool as you think you look while doing bartending tricks (and yes, some customers will think you’re cool, too—but remember: they’re probably half-drunk or otherwise mindless oafs, and why would you want to impress them?), you really look like a geek—especially when you flub one up, and trust me, you will.  Only people who prefer flash over substance are wowed by bartending tricks.  If you feel it’s important to astound such people, you may be in need of therapy.


    Keep in mind that all businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone, so be careful who you serve.  Of course, if you say something like, “We don’t serve your kind here” to someone who is of an ethnic persuasion differing from your own or is overtly gay, you may be setting yourself up for a lawsuit.  But if someone who looks like this


    comes into your bar, you’d be best advised to make up some lie (“I’m about to close the bar; I have a family emergency.”) than to ply him with alcohol.  Use your best judgment… if you have any.

    Everyone likes a personable bartender, preferably one with a great sense of humor who can keep his customers laughing.  The happier the customers, the more they spend.  (The opposite is true with drinks, of course: the more upset the customer, the more he will drink.  But keep in mind that, by law in most states, you have to cut him off before he can get truly drunk—but happy customers tend to eat more, and most bars these days serve snacks and sandwiches.  And the more a customer eats, the more he can drink while remaining somewhat sober, and the more he will spend.)  However, you must be careful of where you draw the humor line.  It’s fine to make fun of certain people as long as it’s done in a friendly manner, but if you unintentionally insult some guy’s wife or girlfriend, you can be in for a world of hurt.


    It’s okay to have firm beliefs and strong opinions… in your personal life.  When you’re behind the bar, though, it’s best to be agreeable.  You don’t want to piss off a customer or he’ll take his business elsewhere, and if there’s one thing America has no shortage of, it’s bars.  This is especially important when it comes to two topics: religion and politics.  Openly stating a strong opinion on either of these subjects is likely to polarize the bar; it’s nearly a certainty that about half of the people present will hold an opposing view from the other half, and if the discussion heats up into an argument, nothing good can come from it. 


    Lastly—and touched on earlier—is the one rule that is a firm and enforced law in most states: never allow a customer to get drunk.  As the bartender, you are responsible for your customers.  This means that if he gets in an accident while weaving his way home, you can be held partly liable for any damages or injuries.  Sure, everyone likes to see people stagger around in a drunken swoon (not just space aliens), throwing their arm around someone they barely know and hollering, "I love you, man!" or mistaking their wallet for a cell phone and yelling into it because—obviously—the person on the other end can’t hear him.  And what’s funnier than a drunk vomiting on himself before passing out face-first into a urinal?  Nothing, that’s what.  Still, it’s your job to see to it that none of this happens.  Save your relishing of drunken imbecility for your next party.

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