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10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Bartender

Heading to the bar? Politeness goes a long way. Remember to be kind—and tip your bartender.

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Expert barman is making cocktail at night club.santypan/Shutterstock

“Can you make this stronger?”

The extra alcohol isn’t free. If you want more, you’ll have to order another drink—or one with a higher ABV. See what else your bartender wishes you’d stop doing.

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Picture showing handsome bartender serving cocktails in a pubKamil Macniak/Shutterstock

“It’s my birthday! Can I have a free drink?”

Unless a bar or restaurant has a particular birthday special they have advertised, don’t assume you can get the royal treatment on your birthday. If you’re set on getting gifts, choose a place where you can get free food and drinks on your b-day, or let your friends buy you a drink to celebrate.

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Happy attractive young barman giving glass of beer and talking to african american young manDean Drobot/Shutterstock

“So, what’s your real job?”

This question makes it seem like bartending is not a “real” job since it doesn’t involve sitting at a desk or working on a factory line. Bartending takes a lot of know-how! Plus, whether bartending is someone’s full-time job or a side hustle to make extra cash is none of your business.

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Acceptance of the order at the bar. Three cheerful friend makes ordering a beer from the bartender Maksym Poriechkin/Shutterstock


Asking a bartender to smile may make them feel uncomfortable. In general, catcalls, derogatory remarks and slurs are offensive and unacceptable. This is what your bartender won’t tell you.

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Closeup of hands social networking with mobile phones - Wifi connected multiracial people in bar tableDisobeyArt/Shutterstock

“Can you charge my phone behind the bar?”

Bars are not charging stations, and bartenders have more to do than check to see if you have notifications on your phone. Plus, spills can happen behind the bar. Make sure your phone is charged before going out.

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Female bartender mixing a cocktail drink in cocktail shaker at counterwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

“Surprise me!”

Contrary to what some patrons may believe, bartenders are not mind readers. If you want to have a drink you tried at another place, try to describe it in as much detail as possible or find it on your phone before you go up to order (these copycat drink recipes might help). And if you have preferences of flavors or certain types of alcohol, let them know and they can make you something great.

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Bartender making a cocktail with help of the bar equipment arranged on the bar counterMaksym Fesenko/Shutterstock

“How much do you make in a shift?”

This question is unbelievably rude. How much someone makes is none of your business. Do you ask your friends how much they make, or vice versa?

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The girl bartender prepares a cocktail in the nightclub.Nykonchuk Oleksii/Shutterstock

“Can you make me something good?”

The more specific you are with your order, the easier things will be on both you and the bartender. Check out the secret cocktail ingredients bartenders swear by.

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Cheerful handsome young male bartender working preparing cocktails at the bar talking to his male client smiling joyfully communication relationships party friendly service positivity worker jobZoriana Zaitseva/Shutterstock

“I know the owner.”

Congratulations! So does the bartender if it’s a local spot. Knowing the owner of a bar does not give you any special privileges. And be sure not to lie: that bartender may actually be the owner.

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Handsome guys are standing at the bar counter and calling waiter while resting at the pubVGstockstudio/Shutterstock

“Hello? I’ve been standing here for a while.”

So have plenty of others. Keep in mind that just because you weren’t served immediately, does not mean you’re being ignored. This is how to get the best service at the bar.

Ceara Milligan
Ceara “Kiwi” Milligan is a professional marketing strategist and copywriter who is proud to call Milwaukee home. She loves baking, cooking, writing, listening to music, dancing, playing and hosting trivia, watching college basketball (Go Marquette!), telling lame jokes, and petting every dog that crosses her path.