by Jon Santer
The Wrong Order Order
There is a recognized order of how to call for alcohol in a bar and it is: brand name of liquor first, then how you want it prepared, e.g., “I’d like a Kettle One and tonic.” Stating the brand name after the method of prep just makes things confusing, e.g., “I’d like a vodka tonic, Kettle One.” So, do you want a vodka tonic and a Kettle One? No, you want a Kettle Tonic. This is why Tanqueray and tonic is written T&t, not G&Tw/T. Brand name first, everyone is happier. Also you don’t need to tell us that Kettle One is vodka, i.e., “A Kettle One vodka tonic please.” We bar-people are well aware that Ketel One is vodka and Jack is whiskey, etc. Thanks.
Are you one of those people who press their hands on the bar so as to lift themselves up and lean your head and torso way in like you’re inspecting the wells for cleanliness or something? Then when you order your face is two inches from my face. Maybe you’re a close-talker, I don’t know but don’t do that. It’s a personal space thing. You get all the space on the customer side of the bar; we get all the space on the working side, capisce? Also, you people tend to be the same people who ask for something you can clearly see we don’t have, i.e., if you don’t see taps it’s because there are no taps. No such thing as secret-hidden-taps.
The Inappropriate Order
Don’t go to say, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, where they have more tequila than anyone in the world and the world’s foremost authority on tequila, Julio Bermejo, to lead you on a spectacular tequila tasting tour, and order a Manhattan. That’s just dumb. Also don’t order a glass of wine in a bar that doesn’t serve food. They have bad glass wine there because they only serve one glass every three days and have to throw away the rest of the bottle and so therefore can’t afford to have good wine on offer. If you’re going to order wine in a bar, order a bottle, trust me.
The Water Mime
For some strange reason many people make this strange hand motion as if they’re raising an invisible glass to their lips to drink while saying, “May I have a glass of water?” Yet they don’t make the same motion when ordering anything else. Why is this? Perhaps they’re making sure I know they want to drink the water and not, say, use it to bathe. I got it; I don’t need the hand motion.
The Indecisive Waver
I’m not one who believes in waving at the bartender, but I can see how in a busy bar one would feel like waving might be the only way to get some attention your way, so fine, wave. But if you’re going to wave the bartender down, know what you want. Don’t wave me down and then turn to your friends and say, “Um, hey guys what do you want to drink?” This drives everyone I know who’s ever worked in a busy bar batty. R Bar in San Francisco used to have these shirts that said, “Know what you want, Know what your friends want, say please and thank you, Tip.” That’s what I’m trying to say.
Mr. and Mrs. Snappy Finger
Just get out.
The Make Believe Server
Every restaurant has an area for the servers to come collect drinks for their tables from the bar. This area is usually roped off, or marked by a big brass railing or just lots of mats and garnishes for the drinks to rest on and the servers to garnish their drinks. If you are not a server currently working in that restaurant, DON’T STAND THERE. The reason that one space is empty while the rest of the bar is three deep is because everyone else knows that’s the server’s window, ok genius?
The Garnish Grazer
I wash my hands every 25 seconds behind the bar because I’m washing tins and mixing glasses, etc. I can touch the garnishes that may be sitting on the bar, you cannot. It’s not a salad bar, if you want something ask. Also, that bowl of fruit on most good bars these days, that’s not complimentary fruit, that’s for garnishing too. Don’t touch that either. And don’t touch my tools. In fact just don’t touch anything. I’ll hand you something if you ask, as will almost everyone, but don’t just reach out and take it.