Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Forest Park! I’ll be handling your drinking needs at the Beacon this evening … though I have to say I’m kind of dreading it. Big boozing occasions like New Year’s, St. Patty’s and Black Wednesday are what we in the industry refer to as “amateur night.” It’s like a 21st birthday party – everyone gets wasted and forgets how to behave.
So, in honor of today, I’ve consulted with fellow barkeeps and come up with a crash course in bar etiquette.
Rule number one: bring your ID. I don’t understand why anyone leaves the house without it, but you’re definitely going to need it at a bar, especially on a night like St. Patty’s when all the under-agers want to get in on the action.
People seem to think that because the Beacon doesn’t have a doorman, they are going escape being carded. Sorry. I card hard. Scurrying off to that table in the corner and sending one person up to buy drinks will not save you. Everyone in my bar needs an ID.
“I forgot it”? Go back and get it. And don’t attempt to bribe me. You can’t cover the massive fine I’ll get. Besides, I like my job and want to keep it.
Now, let’s discuss drink ordering. Whether you realize it or not, the bartender has a system. We see everyone including the guy at the end that you don’t see who has been standing there longer than you. If you irk us, you will be pushed to the back of our mental queue. If you are patient and polite, we will get to you as soon as humanly possible.
Simply move your glass forward, get your money out or signal discreetly with your hand. Don’t wave wildly like you’re trying to get off a desert island. And please don’t shout “Hey you!” or “Hey bartender!” and especially not pet names that you shouldn’t use unless you know me personally.
It annoys me most when someone calls out an order while I’m in the middle of filling one or making change. I’m concentrating on something else. I’ll forget (sometimes intentionally because you were rude). My co-worker Dan hates being stalked up and down the bar – like how my cats follow me around when they’re hungry.
When we get to you, please know what you want. Don’t ask me to list off the beers or instruct “just make something fun” on a busy night. On a slower night, I’m totally game, but not when I’m slammed. And if you have a large party, please order all at once; don’t send me running around unnecessarily.
Speaking of large parties, look out for your friends. Don’t ply your buddy with shots and let him wreak havoc. I’m not a babysitter or a hockey referee. I don’t like to clean up vomit or break up fights.
Finally, please tip. Like all servers, bartenders don’t make much of an hourly wage. Our tips pay our bills. I understand money’s tight, but order one less drink and pay the person who has been working hard while you party. A dollar a drink is standard.
Experienced drinkers know that if you tip more, you get faster service and sometimes the bartender will even buy you a drink. But never ask when you’re gonna get a free drink. That’s just rude.
It’s pretty simple – I’ll treat you with the same respect that you give me. Now head out to your favorite watering hole (or visit mine!) and drink to your heart’s content … as long as you aren’t driving. That rule’s a given, right?
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.