You’re at a bar — with a partner, a friend, by yourself — and the bartender is kinda chatty and you really don’t want to talk. What do you do? In my experience, bartenders are uniquely qualified to read the room, so to speak, and won’t often chat up guests who don’t look like they want to be chatted up. But if you find yourself in this unique and somewhat awkward situation, I think there are a few ways to go about it without being rude.
The first is body language. Maybe bellying up to the bar is giving the impression that you’re hoping to talk, in which case you might consider turning to one side to speak with your buddy, or even angling yourself away from the bar. I doubt a bartender will try to engage the back of your head. Another option: Look at your phone. Nothing shuts down polite conversation — or any human interaction, really — better than being face down on your device.
If you’re really uninterested in even the possibility of speaking with the bartender, you could also move yourself to a table and only return to the bar for service.
If none of that works, and the bartender’s really not picking up what you’re putting down, you could say something along the lines of, “These drinks are great, thank you so much. This person and I are hoping to catch up a bit, but we’ll let you know if we need anything!” Hopefully they’ll get the point then and you can finish your evening undisturbed. But remember to be kind about it, and recognize that sitting at a bar often entails some communication with the person behind it. That custom is why many people are there to begin with.