I was a bartender in town for two years, at a local pub.
Nothing glamorous, just a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood pub that is more about a good conversation and meeting your regular, rather than a meat market bar where you get blasted with your "homeboys" from North Bergen on Red Bull and Vodka.
One thing I knew even before becoming a bartender was the importance of tipping. Early in life my parents made all the kids have a job every summer. I used to be a busboy during my years in Ocean City, NJ when I was 13. When I turned 16 I each returning year I would be a waiter down the shore until I was 21. My "paycheck" was purely on the generousity of others. As a busboy, if my waiters did well - they were (usually) generous with me. As a waiter, I did everything I could to hustle a buck.
I figured that for some fun and some extra money in my pocket that I would try to bartend a few nights a week. It was a lot of fun, and if you ever get the chance to bartend you should certainly go for it. One of the hardest jobs in Hoboken (as a guy) to get is a bartender - you either have to work your way up or know someone who owns a bar to become a bartender. For women, its fairly easy to get a bartending job - as long as you are cute & have a nice body. Its sad, but true - this is a sexist industry.
Lets go over the my rules of tipping and bar etiquette, because it will make your bar experience much more fruitful (read: better tabs, more free drinks) in Hoboken. This is simply my advice, take it or leave it - i'm sure everyone has their own methods and thoughts on how they want to tip, but using this as a primer may help you the next time you are wondering why you weren't getting served as quickly from a friendly bartender...
I know you may be saying "That doesn't make any sense all they are doing is opening or pouring a beer!" - actually you aren't correct. Bartenders have to clean up after patrons. They have to do their sidework (geting the bar ready) when they come in and before they leave. Many have to restock the bar after the bar closes. On a busy weekend, I wouldn't get home until 4am many mornings. $1 per drink. Live by that rule and you will always be golden in the eyes of any bartender.
- Stand at the bar, with your money out and calmly waiting & making eye contact. Any good bartender WILL notice you and serve you. Don't hold your money out and chat with your friends at the same time. Pay attention.
- If you are seated at the bar, put your glass towards the bartender's side, away from yourself, and any good bartender will notice your empty drink and offer to make you another.
- If you do think you are getting passed over, simply get a bartender's attention by saying: "Excuse me, when you have a chance..." - bartenders despise hearing "Hey Pal!", "Buddy!", "Honey!" or any lame term like that from a drunken customer.
- Don't snap your fingers, tapping your beer on the bar, or whistle at someone - that will only cost you more time in the "No Drinking Penalty Box".
- If you know the bartender don't keep shouting their name while making a drink. People shouted my name over and over while i'm busy running around making drinks for another customer - don't be that guy.
I have ignored customers on purpose who tried that crap on me. Like I said before - a good bartender should see you calmly waiting - if they don't well, make sure you don't leave them a good tip. If you get an attentive bartender, who is quick, kind and polite - show your appreciation with a good tip. Most good bartenders would take care of patrons like that (with buybacks).
Those are the main rules I can think of off the top of my head.
Some less scrupulous bartenders will be happy to take all their customers cash - so be careful. I have found myself a few times "correcting" the patron (especially if they are drunk) and making sure they aren't like tipping $40 on a $20 tab. If you got a $20 tab, but drank $45 worth of liquor (If I got served with my friends three times at $15 each time) - i'd tip $15-20 (each serving gets the $5 cap rule, but the extra $5 kicker is because of the generous tab). That's just me.
Even people who aren't regulars, but tip well, will find that the generousity of that bar will even out the amount of money you spend in the long run. If you frequent a bar that doesn't take care of you like I described - you might want to re-think where you are spending your hard earned cash.