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Bar Etiquette: The Unspoken Rule
of Drinking in A Bar

Bar Etiquette: The Unspoken Rule
of Drinking in A Bar

Danti Tarigan
24 May 2023

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Bars are the perfect space for mixing and mingling, but there are some unspoken rules you should know when heading to one.

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Heading to a bar can be an exhilarating experience, it’s where you can unwind and forget about the world’s problems for a night. But it’s definitely worth knowing some of these do’s and don’ts to ensure your bar adventures are unforgettable for all the right reasons. Check it out!

Things To Do In A Bar

Do: Research the bar you're about to go to

Much like you wouldn’t walk into a sushi place and order a burger,  you should never head into a bar without knowing anything about it and what they are specialized in. Nowadays, a little Google search or a quick visit to their Instagram account can give you enough information about what to expect, helping you strategize the night out better. But if you’re still a little bit unsure, sticking to something classic–like The Manhattan or Negroni–would rarely hurt your night.

Do: Manage your own stuff and belongings

In general, don’t bring a lot of stuff to a cocktail bar. You will be drinking, and chances are, you will be a lot sloppier in keeping your things in place after a few sips. Simply bring essential stuff like a key, wallet, and charger; things which a small shoulder bag or a purse should be enough to keep. If you really need to bring more, you can ask the server whether there is a space or basket to keep your belongings and make sure you manage them well. You don’t want to bother the busy bartender–or worse,  other guests–to keep an eye on your belongings.

Do: Ask for the bartender's recommendation

Nowadays, cocktails are becoming more and more innovative as bartenders and mixologists push the boundaries of creativity. With years of experience and continuous experimentation, these artisans have refined their craft. So, asking questions like “What’s your favorite drink?” or “What would you recommend?” will open the door to a deeper connection, allowing the mixologist or bartenders to share their insights and provide you with a remarkable drink. You can also communicate your taste preferences, letting them create a personalized and educated recommendation.

Do: Respect that the bartenders are working

There’s a reason why bartenders are often called ‘accidental therapists.’ Bartenders are usually the friendliest; they will likely strike up a conversation, genuinely interested in hearing about your day while they prep you a magic concoction. Though it’s fine (even encouraged!) to talk to your bartenders, understand they are currently working. Be mindful not to go overboard and monopolize their time, especially if they seem occupied with other tasks.

Things Not To Do In A Bar

Don't: Take too long to order at a crowded bar

When things are busy, knowing exactly what you want is essential. Before you signal or catch their attention, take a moment to thoroughly read the menu. Avoid bombarding the bartender with questions about things that are clearly displayed, and if you plan to order multiple drinks, request them all at once. Remember, everyone in the bar is thirsty, so let’s keep unnecessary waiting and commotion at bay, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for all.

Don't: Reach over or go behind the bar, for any reason

Customers are never allowed behind bars, and reaching over without permission–for any reason–is also not allowed. You can get thrown out. The reason being, one, you might disturb the bartenders’ workflow. Even worse, there’s a good chance you’ll break the bar’s hygiene guidelines if you start tampering with bottles, ice, garnishes, and glass; causing problems for both bartender and other guests. If you need something–whether to have an extra garnish or shot–simply sit at the bar and wait for the bartender to get to you.

Don't: Be a know-it-all

Whether you’re a bar newbie or a seasoned veteran, it’s important not to be a know-it-all. Avoid overwhelming the bartender with complicated recipes or excessive ingredient details, especially during crowded times. Similarly, don’t expect them to surprise you with a mystery drink—they’re busy and appreciate specific requests. Instead, you can ask them to make their favorite. This way, you get to be surprised with a new drink, and they get to create something they love. It’s a win-win!

Don't: Leave your drink on the bar unattended

Indulging in a glass or two of alcohol has a way of lowering our guard, making us more susceptible to being more vulnerable than usual. So it’s crucial not to leave a glass unattended on the bar. There is a big and very real possibility of someone putting something unwanted in your drink, and worse, most of the drugs are tasteless and odorless–you won’t notice them until it’s too late. Additionally, even if your drink isn’t spiked, leaving it unattended may result in the staff pouring it out.

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