According to folklore, Vikings used to aggressively collide their steins of mead together, exchanging a bit of each persons beverage. This was done while making eye contact as a show of trust that no poison had been administered to either party.
There are lots of different associations that go along with drinking. The drink that you order may be a sign of your social status, group affiliation or even national identity (or the association of it). These are not necessarily rules but they have, historically, been influential to social trends revolving around drinking alcohol. The act of offering to buy a drink for someone, for instance, can be perceived in a variety of ways. Is it a simple act of kindness? A romantic ploy? Or, is it mercy for a person with less wealth than yourself? Perspective and personal experience will ultimately lead you to accept the drink or not.
Perhaps the most insightful individual to confront with these mysteries would be your bartender. The age old profession goes back approximately two thousand years and has always been a key role in many, if not most, communities around the world. A therapist, mixologist, entertainer, and all around go-to for what ails you, bartenders see us at our best and worst. Although the fast-paced modern lifestyle has taken this profession away in some larger restaurant and bar chains, we can rest assured that the folks behind most bars got our backs. That said, it’s important to remember that they aren’t selflessly working for free. Tip them. The better you treat them, the better they will usually treat you. Your cocktails might get a little stronger and come with more haste when your bartender is happy with you.
Here are some tips and etiquette for the modern bar goer. The advice shared here is meant for entertainment and is by no means a complete guide. It’s different for everyone. Cheers!
Take off your coat and stay a while! When arriving to your watering hole, take a minute to acclimate. Find a place to sit down and think about what you want to drink. Being in a hurry can put off a bad vibe and the others in the bar will notice your nervous energy. You might also notice the overall energy and pace of the establishment, which will come in handy when approaching the bartender.
Cash is king. While most establishments accept cards these days, it’s no secret that hard currency is preferable. It speeds the process along and puts the tips literally into the workers hands. Many bars will have other employees that will receive a portion of the tips at the end of the night. Paying cash gives them an easy way to divide the evenings take. If you are paying with a card, run a tab if you plan on having more than one drink. This will free your bartender up to make better drinks and serve everyone better.
Be on your best behavior. The sauce tends to loosen us up and amplify all of our actions. Go into your adventure in a happy state and carry it through the night. If you are having a rough night, be sure not to take it out on others that are trying to have a good time. This is not only a jerk move, it’s a major red flag for bartenders and security folks alike.
Hydrate! Alcohol dehydrates you and that is the number one reason for a hangover. By making sure to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage you will be able to handle your booze better and most certainly reduce, if not nullify, a hangover.
Ordering Drinks. Make sure that you are ready to order prior to approaching the bar. When placing your drink order try to also be specific as possible. If you are ordering a martini, do you want gin or vodka? What brand? Rocks or up? These terms are pretty easy to catch onto. If you aren’t sure, ask a friend or someone approachable at the bar. It is not recommended to make the bartender wait while you think about what you want. They are very busy and the crowd is very thirsty.
Getting along with others. Chances are if you are flying solo, you will end up meeting people. Try not to come on too strong during introductions. The ultimate fail in drinking out is getting into it with someone who may have been there for a few more than you. There is little chance to come out smelling clean even if all you said was hello. If you sit next to someone at the bar play it close to the chest. Try starting your interaction with brief eye contact followed, momentarily, by neutral small talk. On the occasion that you are not well received finish your drink quietly or move. Do not engage.
Romance. You should NOT go into your evening with the sole purpose of meeting someone romantically. Making friends is good though, and if you start with the the steps listed directly above, you might make one. You never know what a friendship can grow into, and worse case scenario you have a new friend.
Tipping. Here is the big one. First of all say please and thank you when ordering. These magic words are applicable to grown ups too. Also I personally recommend tipping a dollar per drink if you can afford it. This can be met with a cap of around 25% of your total bill. I know this seems like a lot but considering you are new to this bartender and want to make a good impression, let them know by tipping at every drink purchase.
Moderation. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the night and have that last drink, but in the long run you will actually have a better time if you pace yourself and know when to call it a night. There is no shame in knowing your limits. And whatever you do, don’t argue when it’s time to give up your drink at the end of the night. You have had hours of drinking by this time.
Getting home. Always make sure that you have a designated driver or plan to take the bus or a cab. This is very important for your safety and that of others on the road as well.
Here are some great events listed through Brown Paper Tickets, where you can get your drink on:
Thursday, January 9th | Group Therapy Tour @ The LoFi – Seattle, Washington
The Group Therapy tour comes to Seattle next Thursday. Marvel at the geekiest rappers from across the country. The amazing spectacle of Schaffer the Darklord will tantalize and delight. The rapid-fire rhymes of Adam Warrock will entice and electrify. The delightful flow of Tribe One will ensnare and enthuse. Yes, these three fine rappers from afar have come to prance and sing for you. They weave tales of comic book heroes and villains, video game nostalgia, and plain and simple mad geekery.
Saturday, January 11th | Mugs Alehouse Mystery IPA Contest - Brooklyn, New York
Mugs Alehouse is willing to let the people judge the best IPA and reward that brewery for the 3rd year!! The winning beer will be crowned king and Mugs will proudly pour their draft for six months at Williamsburgs oldest Craft Beer Bar!!
Wednesday, Janury 15th | Wedding Wednesday Cocktail Party at Hard Rock Cafe-Washington DC - Washington DC
Experience firsthand the future of wedding planning. The Wedding Wednesday Cocktail Party is designed to make planning simple, relaxing and fun for you – the bride! It is the perfect one stop shopping experience where you will see, taste, meet and book vendors, sit in a cocktail atmosphere, win fabulous prizes, receive swag bags filled with special bridal gifts and genuinely have fun while planning their wedding. Black Bag Productions, an event planning company based in Laurel, Maryland and Marie Crawford’s Bridal, a special occasion and formal wear boutique based in Frederick, Maryland have collaborated this year with several award-winning venues to host a Wedding Wednesday Cocktail Party.
Saturday, January 18th | Tommy Tutone: The Ultimate 80s Party w/ The EightyEightyEights - Salem, Oregon
Tommy Tutone is coming to Duffy’s Hangar on Saturday January 18th! Opening the show is The EightyEightyEights, an 80s synth band from Salem.
Monday, January 20th | Sidney Street Cafe: 10 Years, 10 Chefs Anniversary Dinner - St. Louis, Missouri
The Sidney Street Cafe is turning ten years old! It has been an amazing ride and they’re grateful to their loyal customers who have supported them along the way. It is also cause for celebration! On January 20th, 2014, ten of Sidney Street’s chef friends from near and far will join Kevin Nashan and his team in the kitchen for a very special dinner to mark this milestone, and trust us, you won’t want to miss it!
Image credit: Roger Blackwell