Talk a Good Game – Easing a bartender’s night


I have several favorite bartenders. On more than one occasion, in any of their respective establishments, they have each been a gatekeeper to an awesome night. They’ve taken then time to mix the best of the best, give me inside track on orders, on who was available for the evening and I even had a bartender send a dance request over to me from a comely young lady across the bar.

But this is not an instant rapport. It takes time to build. And it always starts by easing a bartender’s night. Here are tips on how to do such a thing.

Tip #1 – Read the scene – if a bartender is swamped with orders and you can wait, do so. Let the tidal wave of beer orders, mixed drink requests and info on shot specials subside. The worst time to strike up a conversation with a bartender is when they don’t have time to converse.

Tip #2 – Ask them how they are doing and mean it – It’s not a rhetorical question but they’ll think it is at first. Respond and actually care if there’s time.

Bartender: “Hi what can I get you?”

You: “First up, how are you?”

Bartender: “Good but whew…”

You: “Long night. Sorry about that. I hope things ease up.”

If they give you more than that, remember it, talk to them as you would want to be talked to. Next time you see them, if you remember their name, use it. If you remember that their kid was sick or that their birthday is in October, mention it in conversation. Chill, be organic and watch what happens.

Tip #3 – Legitimately compliment – This person has been barked at all day and probably not seen as a person. If something stand outs, a tattoo on the hand you recognize, a ring, a necklace, something that is not offensive to comment on, go for it. One of my favorite bartenders is tatted up on his right arm and I started our rapport by mentioning how impressed I was by the Japanese art style. We’ve been cool ever since.

Tip #4 – Tip. A single or two is always appreciated.

Tip #5 – Be patient & understanding – They forget drinks sometimes, they get sidetracked sometimes. If they come over super-apologetic, wave your hand gently and let them know it’s okay and all good.

Tip #6 – Do not eye fuck them – No banging them in your mind as you stare like a psychopath. I knew a bartender that had an amazing body. After we got to know each other, I asked her when is it okay to check out her looks. She said when she was walking away or walking towards me but never when she was face-to-face up close or at the table. Even when a bartender is sexy to the nines, that’s no excuse to try and place an order to her cleavage. No eye-fucking.

Tip #7 – Offer to buy them a drink – Sometimes they can have a shot with your, sometimes it’s just an energy drink. They may not want anything. Either way, gently and calmly offer to buy them a drink (this should be the second or third time you have them as a bartender not five seconds into the first order ever.) If they say no, it’s okay. Simply say “Another time then…”

Tip #7 – Say bye – If the night allows, as you walk out, if you catch their eye, wave goodbye. They’ll remember the hell out of that.

Don’t be a dick. Be cool. Be polite and you’ll ease a bartender’s night and add an ally to your evening.

— JS

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