Tapping the table with your glass before taking a shot is like drunkenly arguing about politics — you can participate even if you don’t really understand what’s going on. Unlike booze-fueled debates, however, touching the bar with a shot glass unites all involved.

Here’s how the tradition works. You heroically purchase a round of shots for yourself, the bartender, and anyone else who inspires your noble generosity. Everyone raises a glass and clinks, saying “Cheers!” or “¡Salud!” or some variation thereof. Then you lightly touch your glass to the bar or tabletop, making a satisfying “thunk” sound before swigging.

Many drinkers believe this demonstrates respect for the establishment and those who work there. Tapping the bar is a way to celebrate the often-unseen folks who made the moment possible, such as barbacks, kitchen porters, delivery truck drivers, locksmiths, and so on.

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“Clinking glasses is toasting one another. Touching the countertop is toasting the house,” Sother Teague, beverage director of NYC’s Amor y Amargo, writes in a message.

Others think it’s a carpet-friendly version of “pouring one out” for the dearly departed. “In some bars it’s a nod to people who aren’t with you,” David Blend writes in Thrillist.

Either way it’s considerably more polite than shouting your feelings about healthcare or the electoral process into the ether. Besides, isn’t that what Twitter is for?