Sitting at the bar is my favorite place to enjoy a drink, and it’s the best place to get to know the people who are making those drinks as well. If service is on the slower side, this situation might result in you striking up a lengthy conversation with the person behind the stick, and at some point, you yourself may wish to buy them a drink. But before you do, let’s discuss some guidelines.

Never, ever buy someone a drink if you are doing so in order to hit on them. You may think the other person is flirting with you, but a bartender’s job is to be friendly. Do not put them in the awkward position of them accepting a drink from you so you can then ask them for their number. You also shouldn’t offer someone a drink if it’s early in service as they are less likely to accept it.

Now, if the night is close to its end, and you’ve had a great evening, tell the bartender so and let them know that you’d love to buy them a drink — if they are able to accept it. Then, and this is very important, ask them what they would like. Don’t just buy a round of cheap whiskey shots and expect them to down them with you and your buddies. Maybe tonight they’re in the mood for a glass of wine; let them drink what they want. Also, and this is even more important, know that buying a bartender a drink is never a substitute for a tip, and you never should expect to get something in return for doing it. It’s simply a nice gesture to thank someone for excellent service. Lastly, don’t be offended if they say no to the offer. Some workplaces have strict policies against staff accepting drinks from guests.

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