10 Rules Not to Break in a Bar

The bar is, generally, a happy place. Whether you are there to pass a quiet hour with a friend or to go on an insta-rampage, most people associate positive things with the place where alcohol is served. Nothing can ruin an excellent time, however, like a display of bad manners, or a breach of unspoken bar etiquette. It irritates the people who have to deal with it, and it may even spoil the evening of the perpetrator, because the bar, while a happy place, is also the place where self-control stumbles in to die.

So, in case you haven’t been reading your Emily Post, here are a few ways to avoid making your fellow patrons hate your guts.

Contain yourself

I see you with your handbag and your yoga mat and your backpack and your shopping bags. Do you know why I see you? Because you, and your shit, are EVERYWHERE. Kindly contain yourself and all of your possessions to a single bar stool. By the way, if you tell me that you are “saving seats” for someone, I’ll know you are lying because assholes like you don’t have friends.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

Respect the order of things

I know that there isn’t usually a clearly formed line at the bar, but if you are old enough to drink, you are old enough to figure out how to not be a dick. If you see someone waving down the bartender, it’s maybe not the best move to elbow in next to them and wave harder in an attempt to be first. It will make everyone hate you very much. Including the bartender, by the way.

While we’re at it, KNOW the order of your thing

The time to decide what you are drinking is before the bartender asks for your order. Don’t hem and haw while people behind you are still mortifyingly sober. If you really don’t know what you want, wave the person behind you ahead while you consult the fucking stars.

Keep it simple

O.K., so there may be exceptions. If the bar is pretty empty, and you know the bartender, and the place has a “mixology” vibe, then yes, go ahead and request your Blue Moon Over Sarasota in Summertime. In most situations, however, please restrain your order to either cocktails that are on the menu or the most basic ones possible.

Flirt with the bartender on your own damn time

I know, I know, they are usually attractive, often tattooed, and they give you liquor. I love them, too. However, if there is a line behind you, please reconsider the timing of your witty repartee. If the loathing of your fellow customers doesn’t dissuade you, consider that you are literally interrupting the flow of money into your new crush’s pocket. Not a turn-on.

Stop flailing

A crowded room is no place for wild gesticulation. Unless you are in the middle of a seizure, please do your best to keep all your body parts (and belongings) within the one-foot range of your torso. Or be prepared to buy people drinks to replace the ones you spilled. Ladies, that includes your hair. If a piece of it gets into my glass, don’t be surprised if the contents of my glass end up in your hair.

Acknowledge the existence of others

If you bump into someone, say excuse me. If you find yourself pressed against someone, smile and say hello. Don’t pretend like your fellow human beings don’t exist. It’s not the subway.

No means no

This isn’t a bar-specific rule, but really, if someone says no to something (a drink, a dance, a phone number exchange), just let it go. Don’t take advantage of the crowded space to get uncomfortably close to that person. Don’t follow them around and ruin their night. Don’t be a heinous human being.

Yes means yes

If you offer to buy someone a drink, don’t come back with anything other than what they requested unless it’s either (a) a reasonable replacement for something genuinely unavailable or (b) their original order PLUS something else. Don’t decide what someone else is drinking. That’s a dick move.

Be nice to the bartender

This is the most basic rule, but it bears repeating. Be nice to the person who is in charge of your good time tonight. Order politely, speak clearly, say thank you. Don’t shout “YO,” don’t snap your fingers, and don’t forget to tip. Even if they aren’t paying you the kind of attention you believe you deserve, cut them some slack. They are trying to get a lot of people their drinks. It’s a sacred job that requires a lot of multitasking, and every once in a while, you’re the casualty. It’s not personal. Wait patiently. Order quickly. Leave a nice tip. Repeat.