Bartenders Share Everyday Stories Of Clients Who Piss Them Off

Being a bartender is probably way harder than you think. You have to deal with drunks, work on weekends, and break up bar fights... not to mention fielding people's constant demands to charge their phones. Here are 20 examples of why being a bartender can actually suck!

Cody Cross
Created by Cody Cross
On Aug 25, 2019
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The Good Wife

Okay, this is transcribed directly from my wife, a bartender of 15 years who has worked in about 15 different bars, clubs, and restaurants:

"I'm totally gonna sound like a bitch when I say this stuff. God, okay...

-Splitting up your tab when you can't remember exactly who had what, but you don't want to just split it evenly. I immediately hate you if you do this when I'm very busy.

-Ordering one drink at a time so that each time your server comes back with the drink you just ordered, you have a new drink order for someone else in your group. Try to synchronize your drinking...cycles.

-Getting up to the bar before you know exactly what you want, and there's 50 people waiting behind you, and you're acting like you're at Burger King at 2AM: "Uhhmmm...let's see...hmm...I think I might want...okay, what's in a...Buttery Nipple? Really? Ew, no thanks! Well hang on, okay, 'Hey Tiffany, what do you want? Okay what about you Becky?' Okay, so she wants a Vegas Bomb, wants-- AAHH!!! MY EYES! YOU STABBED ME! MY EYES, THEY'RE GONE!! YOU TOOK MY EYES!!"

-People not knowing their own limits as far as how much they can drink. That's rookie shit, don't do it.

-Ordering fancy frozen drinks at a crowded club.

-Telling me that I didn't make your obscure drink order just like the last bartender did at that other bar- that's like asking a chef at one restaurant to make your dish just like they do at another restaurant- drink recipes are not always absolute, and they're often open to interpretation, just like cooking. The basic idea might be the same but the specifics of many drinks can vary from one bar to another, which brings me to my next one:

-Telling me that you want a drink with a name that another bartender at a different place just made up. If I'm not ridiculously busy, I am happy to let you tell me what's in the drink, but don't yell at me for not knowing what a Mexican Cheeto Fucker is if it's not in any drink recipe books. There are about ten thousand drink recipes that I need to be able to mentally pull up in seconds, hundreds of times a night, but I'm not so great at telepathy or ESP.

-Snapping to get my attention, or yelling at me. I promise we see you, and we know you're there, but we have our own mental order of who is first (sometimes according to how much you've been tipping me, sorry. That's why tips get you faster service, it's just how things work, if you didn't already know this),

-Not tipping after I give you three chances. By your 4th drink, you're not going to be served by anyone at my bar, because guess what? We don't work for free, just like you don't work for free even if your boss is making money off of you. We aren't so much concerned about how much profit the owner is going to make off of you; if you're not tipping, you will eventually start getting ignored. That's why it's always a good idea to give your bartender a decent tip on your first drink- we'll take good care of you for the rest of the night with stronger drinks and faster service. Tipping is not just a courtesy or a way to say thank you; with your bartender, it can actually get you better service preemptively. I really don't care how you feel about tipping or your own personal tipping philosophy, or the reasons why you don't do it. Change the laws and the culture someday through a petition, a protest, hell, make it a fucking Constitutional Amendment someday, fine, but if you want good service, say...tonight? like, right now? then tip your bartender.


A Good Rant

A. Napkins in glasses. I appreciate your intent to consolidate the mess but the last thing I want to do is reach my hand into a dirty glass and grab a dirty soggy napkin.

B. Puking anywhere but the toilet. I know you're drunk but youre a grown ass adult. The toilet is a larger target than the sink in our one seat bathroom, how hard can it be?? Also, if you're not going to clean it up, at least tip accordingly. I should be getting biohazard pay...

This last one is specific to me but since I feel like ranting on the topic...

C. I work at a craft alehouse that has 0 domestic beers on tap, so when you wander in and miss the fact that we are not a Joe schmo bar, don't get mad at me if I deny your request for a round of fireball. And you certainly can't get pissy when i inform you we only have your piss beer in cans, not bottles - as if you have beer standards.

Sorry, I could rant for days.


Decision Making

My time to shine, I wish that I would have go in here sooner, I know this will get buried. I have been bartending for many years and have noticed some social phenomena:

1-When someone sits at the bar and immediately introduces themselves and reaches to shake my hand I know that they are going to be trouble. These people tend to think that by introducing themselves to the bartender that they are on a first name basis and they are therefore exempt from getting into trouble. This is most often observed in patrons who have been drinking too much before they even got to the bar. If you want to get to know the bartender, then you have to put in your time and earn their trust and respect. We are used to dealing with low-lifes and derelicts so you need to prove that you are someone who is genuinely interested in building a bartender-patron relationship.

2- "I don't know what I want. Make me something good. You decide." These are the things that I dread hearing.

I don't mind being creative and coming up with a drink for you, but you have to point me in the right direction: 'Give me something good with GIN in it ' Alright, now we're talking! ' I don't know what I want, but maybe I will start with a light beer '. Okay good. I guess the point is that you need to have your shit together. You were not magically teleported to the bar, have an idea of what you want to drink before you get the bartender's attention.

3 - "We'll have six shots on his tab/her tab." Oh really? Six shots on that guy's tab eh? I've fallen for that one before. Being a bartender means that you learn all about the dark side of humanity. The desperate senseless pettiness and ignorance of the depraved and the pathetic. I will believe that she/he is going to buy you six shots as soon as they tell me so, I am not taking your word for it.

Anyways, I just wanted to get that off of my chest. I make really good money as a bartender and I usually have a fun time at work, but I a bar is not the happy joyful place that people make it out to be. People always ask me: "What is the coolest thing that you have seen happen in this bar?" I usually tell them that I have seen far more sad, lonely, mean and unseemly people than anything else. The good times happen, but alcohol is a depressant. All in all, bartenders have a job that involves human intervention in very awkward and dark way that overshadows the goodness. So be kind to your bartender, they put up with a lot of depressing shit so that you can have a good time.


13 Drinks

If you order 13 drinks, I've got to pour you 13 drinks. I'm only human. Screaming "where's my order already" doesn't increase productivity.

What's even worse is if you order 3 jagerbombs, 2 double vodkas and coke, one single vodka and coke, one single vodka and lemonade, three pints, a gin and tonic, a lime and soda and a packet of nuts then, lo and behold, I have to get you 3 jagerbombs, 2 double vodkas and coke, one single vodka and coke, one single vodka and lemonade, three pints, a gin and tonic, a lime and soda and a packet of nuts.

I might have some unworked out feelings about drunk people.


Hitting On The Staff

A bit of a joke can be ok, but trying to strike up a conversation with me when we're 4 deep at the bar... not going to happen.

Also, hanging around, giggling with your friend while I clean up, then cornering me to try to get my number. DEFINITELY not going to happen.

Trying to find out my shifts from a co-worker, getting my number from facebook (facebook is also a dick for making my number unexpectedly public) and texting me unexpectedly, and then pestering me on facebook thinking I want you to come to my work place to chat me up?

Well... after that I told my manager I didn't want to serve the guy and he mysteriously never came back after that night...


Efficiency Is Key

A good bartender thrives off of efficiency. Actions that can be avoided to speed things up like splitting checks, making a single drink at a time or getting hijacked into small talk while other, more important tasks lay in wait, frustrate the fuck out of someone trying to make a total system run smoother.

On the other hand, a very important part of the job, the most important, is to make the guest happy. In a very busy place this means prioritizing. Some tasks get put on hold.

The greatest frustrations arise when the guest cannot see any other perspective of the situation but their own. This forces the priorities of the bartender to be altered in a less efficient order because, again, we want to make everyone happy. But this kind of thinking doesn't solve the problem, it steals away the time from another guest.

If there was a little less entitlement and pride on both sides, the experience would be better in a more sustainable way. Period.


The Full Picture

(1) ordering one drink at a time when you are in a group and I am a sentient compotent being capable or remembering strings of information

(2) not having cash or credit ready when ordering. Yes I am busy, yes you could have been digging through your purse or wallet long before I came back with your drink.

(3) Making jokes about: not wanting to pay, taking percentages of my tip away for making mistakes, etc etc etc. These are dad jokes, and dads can suck it for making jokes like this - do not be that guy

(4) Ordering crazy shit than being offended when I do not know how to make it: How the heck would I know how to make your cousin tonies secret shot from his bar in philly?

(5) Saying you cannot taste the booze: you are drunk, have smoked far too many cigarettes this evening, and you just insulted my work. Pro-tip: If you want extra booze in your drinks leave a good tip and that is how it gets done

(6) Bringing children. State law says it is okay to have kids in the bar with you until 10pm where I live. But seriously, WTF. I can understand once they are like 15, 16, 17 yo children who have probably seen and heard mommy and daddy things. But its trashy to bring your three year old into a saloon. Furthermore, if you think the retired regulars who drunkenly sit at my rail and cuss everyday are going to change because you just brought your kid you are definitely mistaken.

I could go on and on


The Right Thing To Do

More of a story about the right thing to do: I used to be a bartender at an Irish bar in Brooklyn. I was working during last years Stanley cup and anyone in New York will remember how the city was essentially coming unglued because they finally had a team that didn't totally suck. Any way, it was during the playoffs and the rangers were playing an early afternoon game. I had about 30 diehard fans in the back porch cheering.

This particular game, the rangers won 7-2 (I think... Rangers definitely had 7).

I had a view right out of the door and could see about 5 of the people all staring intently at the TV. As the 5 goal was scored, this one dude jumps in the air, screams what I assume is his battle cry, and spiked his glass on the ground. Keep in mind, the guy wasn't even drunk yet.

I served him 2 beers and half of the second one was now all over the ground. I saw in his face about 1 second after the glass exploded that he knew how much he goofed.

He somberly walked back into the bar and says to me "Hey... I did something stupid..." I just told him that I saw it and understood. He promised to not to do it again and actually took the broom and swept up the truly impressive spread of broken glass. That guy was a bro.

tl;dr guy smashed his glass outside in a fit of joy. Apologized and cleaned up his mess.


What About The Ice?

Requesting less ice equals more mixer, not more alcohol. Want a double? You're paying for a double.

Totally understand just not liking ice. I am the same way. The issue is that MOST people at the bar who ask for no or little ice take a sip and then violently push their splashy drink back at you and complain "there's no alcohol in this!" Very frustrating to stop and explain/argue on a busy night.

... a reply I made to someone who got mad that we wouldn't automatically just fill it with less mixer:

You go be a bartender and fill someone's drink halfway up and watch how they react. Then while you have a bar of people 3 customers deep behind them screaming at you for their drinks, try to explain to this person why you filled their drink halfway up because they requested less ice and you didn't want to put too much mixer in and water down their drink. Time is money and ain't no one got time for that.

Just do your bartender a favor and say "hey I know I won't get more alcohol, but can you just use less ice and more mixer?" Or "just even it out so it isn't too watered down? I don't like ice." We will oblige. Otherwise we will function on default of shot of booze and mixer to the top. Speak quickly. We are working in overdrive.


The Rules

You're being refused service because you're wasted? Fuck off and leave me the hell alone. I'm not going to change my mind, you're just embarrassing yourself.

If you want to buy a drink for someone you don't know (usually a man buying one for a woman), you need to get two things straight: 1. I will make sure that the person receiving it actually wants it. 2. You're paying for it. I'm not waiving the cost of that drink, don't even think about it.

If you want to sample a spirit, wine or beer - ask me and I will pour you one and discuss the intricacies of the product for way longer than is necessary. If you try to get a bunch of samples from different bartenders without buying so you can drink for free - you're getting kicked out and I don't want to see you again, ever.

If you are barred, you are barred. Don't come in. Send an email or letter if you wish to discuss it.

Speaking of emails, don't make a complaint demanding free stuff because you tripped over in 6 inch heels while drunk. The floor wasn't wet, it's not our fault, and if you try to sue us you will lose.

"Can I speak to a manager?" Yep that's me. "Can speak to a real manager?" Go to hell.

No I am not spiking someone's drink for you, creep.

If you insist on carrying a tray of drinks yourself, and then proceed to drop it, I am not required to replace everything for free. If you clean it up I might.

Please try to shit/throw up/ whatever into the toilet. If you fail at doing this, let me know so I can fix the situation.

I'm not personally offended by drugs or sex, but trying to do those things in my bar will seriously piss me off.


Hook Me Up!

Don't ask me to "Hook you up".

Giving you a "hookup" is only something I'll do once I have established you aren't an asshole, you aren't just fishing for free drinks, and that you are actually going to tip me something, not just walk out without paying or leaving me with exact change after six hours of dealing with your drunk ass.

Don't snap your fingers, whistle, or pound on the bar for my attention. That's how you get drinks made to standard without the "oops, I wasn't using a jigger so there's an extra half ounce of the good stuff in there." Good things come to those who are patient.

Don't touch the bar garnishes. Just, don't do it.


Uno Italiano

Oh well I have many, I'm a bartender in Italy, Florence, so I meet A LOT of people frome the states. So maybe I can relate to many of you.

Don't ask a straw for a beer and be surprised if I make a weird face

Don't ask for discount if I never saw you before, I'll give you discount more than likely if you are a good customer (you drinked multiple times, you are nice, you are funny, you entertain the other customers,...) or come regularly

Don't act like we are best friends the first time you meet me so that you can get extra discounts

Don't teach me how to do my job. BUT if you nicely ask me to do something different, OR if you think I'm doing something wrong I'll be happy to make the customer happy, just don't act like you know better. I am very friendly so if you think I can do something better and you say it nicley I'll probably agree with you.

Don't tell me you are a bartender if you did that in college at friends parties

Don't tell me the drink is "too light" bringing me back an empty glass, and act like a dick. Just tell me right away and I'll add some extra alcohol no problem.

Don't bring your mother to a night full of people on their 20s. She'll get drunk and dance on the counter EVERY FUCKING TIME. I'm not strong enough to hold her ass so she won't fall and destroy the whole bar.

If you are in the band who just played, don't act like I owe you and I have to make you drink without being asked nicely.

Say thank you.

We are in Italy, no need to tip but if you do, you're my hero and I'll give you a free shot (it doesn't make sense but whatever)

Sweet eyes don't work on me for a discount. Just act normal, you don't need to be pretty to get a discount from me, talk to me like a human being, be polite and I'll give you some shots for free, that's our policy. We treat good customers good.

Don't touch anything in the fruit tray ffs.

DON'T BRING YOUR OWN ALCOHOL EVER. That's considered very rude and disrespectful. If you reeeaaally need to, hide it and drink it before or after getting in my bar.

That's what I can think of for now. I'm always very friendly so it's really hard to piss me off, but being rude is the thing that I hate the most. I'll do my best to make you feel home!

If I'll start bartending again I'll let you know where, and if you mention this thread I'll give you many shots fro free!!! =D


It's All About The Coasters

Ripping up coasters and labels and if by then, you haven't caused enough misery for the night, throw it on the floor or squish it in the gap of something.


Blue Moon makes these wonderful coasters that break up into puzzle pieces.. That's right, a soggy puzzle. Guess who finds out it turns into the puzzle. The guy who's picking at it, and then all of a sudden he becomes coaster puzzle Jesus spreading the good word to anyone who will listen. And now we have half the bar taking apart the thing that's supposed to keep the drink off the bar. Coaster puzzles are like mesh condoms. It immediately makes it useless at its only purpose. Fuck Blue Moon.

Edit: Now that I have been gilded I feel the need to say that if by chance Blue Moon Brewing Co. sees this and decides to reach out, I am totally for sale and will repent and gladly be featured in any promotional material featuring the Coaster Puzzle Jesus (patent pending).

Hello, rich people? Coaster Puzzle Jesus will be joining you. Yes, I'll hold.


Nothing Is Free

If you know the bartender don't be a dick and expect to be served first and get free drinks etc. if you're a real mate and don't pressure me i'll give you all the shit I can get away with, if you ask I'll say no (probably because I have to because asking outright is just a dumb way to get caught anyway)

edit: extra fun story. a girl in a nightclub went to pay me once, and then everytime i went to get the note she would quickly pull away as if it was some hilarious game. this happened a few times in the middle of a busy shift until i started to take her drinks back and she finally coughed up. she wasn't such a fan of the game though when i did the same back to her with her change


You Gotta Learn it!

Neat: Serve my drink straight from the bottle at room temperature. Scotch neat.

Up: Stir or shake my drink with ice and serve it to me without ice in the glass. If you prefer one or the other, here's your chance to be James Bond. Vodka martini shaken.

Rocks: Serve my drink on ice. Makers on the rocks please.

Dry, Sweet, Perfect: When ordering a vermouth drink, specify how you would like it prepared. Dry Rye Manhattan Up but in a lowball glass.

Dirty: When ordering a martini, you can request that it be prepared dirty. The bartender will add a bit of the olive juice to your cocktail to make it a bit saltier.

Double. When ordering any drink, you may specify how strong you want it by asking for a double. You are doubling the liquor and doubling the price. This works for most basic drinks. Whiskey and make it double.

Twist: For the twist lemon is default, specify if you'd like something out of the ordinary for that drink, keeping in mind that they only have lemons, limes, oranges, and cherries. Dry Bourbon Manhattan on the rocks with an orange twist.

Mixers and a splash of this or that: Most of the time the mixer is in the name of the drink. But otherwise, the bargun has soda, tonic, cran, ginger, sprite, coke, sour, and diet. Gin and tonic with a splash of sprite.

Chasers and back are ordered with a shot to wash it down. In the old days, you would ask for a whiskey with a water back. The bartender would give you a whiskey and a short glass of water to drink with it. A chaser is more of a full drink to have after your shot. Shot of bourbon with a beer chaser.

If you want a specific spirit, say it before the drink name. It's the first thing the bartender grabs. Ketel One Martini Up with a twist.

If you are clumsy, you can even specify your glass. Brandy Old Fashioned with a splash of sprite in a lowball.

Wet or tall: if you prefer your drink to be a little more dilluted, you can ask for it in a taller glass, and you will get a bit more mix. Asking for it wet will result in the drink ordered but more mix and less ice in a normal glass.

Say please and tip your bartender.

Thank you for the gold, the next round is on me friend.

Thank you for the second gold, the next two rounds are on me.


Making Out

Don't make out at the bar. Don't leave your empty shots upside down on the bar.

Don't pick ice out of the glass and throw it on the bar AND DON'T PUT YOUR FUCKING HANDS IN MY ICE WELL. Don't complain about pricing. Don't click or shout. Say please. Laugh at my jokes. Don't tell me who to serve next.

Don't tell me how long you've been waiting. Remember I'm human. Don't tell me there's no vodka in your drink because you're just being an idiot. Don't ask for 'more booze, man'. Get fucked in both senses.


Murder Victims??

Ask me about your murder victims.

Look, I don't know much about the girl in the photo, I tend to hundreds of people a night. I mean, yeah she looks a little familiar, mentioned something about bein' scared of her ex-boyfriend, and started drinkin' with some sleeze at around 9:47, but just because you need information on... what was her name? Marie? Mary? Right it was Mary.

Anyway, just because I saw Mary once during this night, doesn't mean I can give you a detailed account of her every action.

I mean, I think she lives somewhere in Brooklyn, and I can give you her social security number, but I'm not some kind of all-knowing force that can easily help you solve a rape and murder. Manhattan SVU needs to cool it when coming into my bar.


Don't Shake It!

Shaking a glass of ice at me. It's only happened to me once, but it made a fire burn deep inside me. Totally disrespectful and douchey thing to do.

-Also, reaching behind the bar for any reason. Umm... NO! That shit's my office... my personal sanitary work space... keep your drunk nose-picking ass-scratching fingers away.

-Asking for "the hook-up". If you have to ask it's not gonna happen! If you want strong drinks, or maybe one on the house, you can do a few things: 1. Come and come often 2. Be respectful of your bartender and fellow patrons 3. Come at times other than peak hours. This helps you get recognized when there are 15 other people vying for my attention.

-Reminding me about you drink order. I remember. If I don't I'll ask. I may have a list several beers, shots, and/ or cocktails long in my head that I have to make before yours and you shouting "My Jack and Coke?" at me doesn't help.

-Being an asshole when you get refused service. By the time it gets to here the situation really relies on whoever that person came with 9 times out of 10. If you see your friend get refused and he or she gets bitchy about it you need to get them and go somewhere sans alcohol. Don't try another bartender. We will almost immediately recognize and/ or tell each other when someone has been refused service.

-Getting pissed off when we ask for ID. If you come in when there isn't a bouncer it is my job to ensure that I'm not serving the youngins. In my state this offense is a $2000 offense, and several bars make their servers sign contracts saying that if this happens than the server is liable and legally responsible for the fine. Sorry, bro. Not doing it. Also, some restaurants require their bar tenders and servers ID literally everyone. Regardless of whether you're 15 or 50, dems da rules.

-So basically, don't be an asshole. Just remember that bar tenders and servers are people too. This is their job. The customer is not always right, but neither is the server. A lot of servers forget that. Remember, you're a human being trying to imbibe alcohol and I'm a fellow human being trying to help you achieve that goal.



Common Sense

This is all more/less common sense, but in my experience, people just don't get it:

Have your id ready. It's not that hard. I wish we didn't live in such a strict environment about this issue, but we do and my livelihood is on the line.

Know where your fucking money is. I mean, seriously.

If possible, know what you'll be having, especially if it's extremely busy. You have to understand that there is a point where we switch from being 'customer experience oriented' to 'volume oriented'. I wish I could chat it up and explain every beer to you, but that just isn't the right thing for us to do if the line is 20 deep and I'm also taking care of server well tickets.

Tip. A dollar a drink is nice, and if it's a very involved cocktail, it should be understood that it deserves a better tip. If you require significant education on what's pouring, your tip should reflect that, as well.

Pay attention. When you are talking to a bartender or server, please pause your social network updates, selfies, conversations, etc. It will, among other things, ensure that you receive your orders promptly. Also, it's just plain polite.

Do not be drunk. This should be self-explanatory, but I am not interested in serving you if doing so is going to create problems for me down the line. You might think bartending is a slacker ass job, but it wears you down and opens you and the establishment up to legal repercussions if you serve an intoxicated person and someone is hurt as a result.

Don't ask to be hooked up. You're asking me to risk my job so you can have a fucking drink. Want it? Pay for it.

Don't ask me for the highest alcohol content beer. This goes back to the 'don't be drunk' rule. I will offer you something reasonable and act like it's the booziest we've got.

I know you're out having fun, and it's my job to facilitate that, even if it means some inconvenience for me. That said, please be respectful of my bar. Don't piss all over the place. If you feel like you're going to puke, please head to the bathroom. Don't shred your coaster into 6,345,245 little pieces.


Don't Plead!

Plead for another drink after closing time.

Drunk: Just one more, please mate. I'll buy you one too...

Me: I can't, I have no till. Our till has been taken away for cashing up.

Drunk: Just leave the money by the till then? You can keep the change.

Me: I can't do that, our license is only until 11 and it's 11.20.

Drunk: Pleeeeeease! There's this girl I'm trying to chat up and I need one more drink to give me courage...

Me: I. Can't. I'll lose my job.

Drunk: But I'll make it worth your while!! I'll pay you...

This goes on for the whole time I am closing down the bar. I have no till. Go the fuck home.

(I'm a part-time bartender in Scotland. Denying people alcohol here is as much of an insult to them as punching their child in the face.)


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