Top 5 Bartending Pet Peeves

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Most of you know that i'm bartending once again. I first started at the bar when it first opened, January 2001. I worked until November 2003, when I was, well, fired. It is a long story, and not sure if I want to blog it, because it will just reopen old wounds. If you are really interested, you can always email me or just come to the bar on a Saturday night and ask me. Bottom line is that the owner and I made up with each other and he was happy to welcome me back.

Now that I am back again, here are my top 5 pet peeves I have while i'm working at the bar. Other bartenders may read this and know what i'm talking about, or maybe they will disagree with me. From this list I excluded my whole tipping principles, which you can find here.

  • Order everything at once & have your money ready. A girl came up to the bar the other night, and said, "A Miller Lite, please." I walk to the cooler, get the beer and walk back, putting the beer on the bar and said, "$4 bucks". They say, "Oh, another one!". I walk back to the cooler, get another one, put that on the bar, and say "Ok, $8 bucks". "...and a Captain & coke!" I make the drink and tell her "$14 dollars." She goes into her wallet, fiddles around with money, then turns and asks her friends for money. Bartenders need to sling the drinks out as soon as they can, and this is just slowing us down.

  • Patrons who order stupid drinks. I get younger drinkers who come in and say, "I will have a Mind Eraser!" or "Three shots of Scooby Snack!" I know how to make Mind Erasers, but when its busy, you don't want to be sitting there making a layered drink. I don't know Scooby Snacks, and I would ask the people, "What's in that?" and they have no idea, either. I will look it up sometimes, and a Scooby Snack has 1 part Malibu, Creme de Bananes, Midori, Pineapple and whipped cream shaken together. In other words a pain in the ass to make, especially when the bar is busy. Sometimes people order a "Pink Pussycat" or a "Purple Nurple" and I have no clue what these shots are - so I just make something that has vodka and then color it to look pink or purple and say "There ya go!" Most people have no clue anyhow.

  • People who have no music taste. The bane of my existence at the bar is the jukebox. There are multiple reasons:

    • People have no concept of playing music to the crowd. You get 3 people in the bar who like Phish. They play Phish on a Saturday night in a packed room and everyone else is thinking "Is that music or is someone strangling a seal?" I just hit the skip key and ask the people to play something better.
    • Everyone wants to hear the "song of the moment". Every 2 months there is a supersong that is on the radio and everyone wants to hear it. Kayne West. Outkast. Beyonce. Kelly Clarkson. The problem is that these songs get played ad nauseum every night at the bar. A patron may come in, stay for 2 hours, play that song and leave. Another patron comes in and does the same thing. Pretty soon you are about to rip the jukebox off the wall.

    I liked the old days when a bartender could set the music tempo and play the songs from their CD collection or Ipod. Sometimes patrons would ask for certain bands, and we would play that for them. When I used to work with Teresa, we would have a slamming good time behind the bar listening to Rage Against The Machine and dancing with each other while we worked. Those were the good old days.

  • Rude customers. There was a guy who came into the bar when I worked who just, for some reason, was always rude to me. There were a series of events where he would order from me and just act rude, saying things like, "You aren't friendly - get the other bartender!" or he would look at the shot I poured in a rocks glass and say "This is it? This is all your giving me?" Now, I like to think I give good customer service, but it only took a few more similar situations where I had to set this guy straight. One night I finally had enough, when he got angry at me for pouring a shot incorrectly. He was right, it was a shot I didn't know, his pal told me how to pour it - and it was fairly terrible. I didn't charge for the shot and he kept giving me grief over it. Finally I went off on him. Keep in mind that this was the cumlination of about 4 weeks of this guy being a jerkoff to me. I laid into him, starting with, "What the fuck is your problem, exactly?" I detailed everything he did the last 4 weeks, in front of his friends and his fiance. His friends were all saying, "Oh, we're sorry. He does that when he is drunk!" and at the end of it even he was saying, "Look, i'm really sorry."
    I wrote before that the bartenders aren't servants. I certainly could have handled it a bit differently, but it was a busy bar night and I was at the end of my rope on tolerance. I saw the same guy a week later, he shook my hand and apologized again. Nice guy when he's sober.

  • Underage kids. I was in college, and I tried to get into bars when I wasn't 21. Sadly, I never had ID because my brother refused to "lose" his license for me and I wasn't the kind of brother that would steal it from his wallet. Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, we have a tremendous amount of customers from Stevens University who come to the bar with NJ licenses that are incredibly real. Some are good customers, who drink, tip and act normal. But the other morons make them look really bad. They punch holes in the wall, steal things from the bar and rarely can handle their drink. It makes me want to get a scanner than you can run a license under and it will verify if it is genuine or a fake. I just want everyone in my bar who is older than 21. There are plenty of young 20-somethings who act like morons, too - but the older the patrons get the less likely they will be a complete asshat in a bar.

    Those are my pet peeves while I bartend. Here are my pet peeves while i'm a patron.

  • Male bartenders that ignore guys and serve girls first. I don't know how many uptown bars I will stand there, with my tried and true technique of holding my money out, and the bartenders serve the girls first. As a bartender, I absolutely treat everyone equally, and this drives me insane.

  • Any bars that have a line. I think any Hobokenite who waits in line for a bar is a complete fucking moron. There are NO BARS in this town that are worth a line. You have a trillion bars to choose from, and you want to wait in line for 30 minutes to drink in a bar? No way, not me. Plus, the bouncers at Madisons keep people outside when the bar is half-full. Why?

  • Going to any bar that has 10 people or more wearing the Man Suit. Now that the winter is upon is, the next variation of the Man Suit is the Sweater Man Suit, where the person wears a sweater over the shirt - but the collar, cuffs and untucked tail are all showing - yes, i'm guilty as charged, here. Places that have the "cool yuppie crowd" always have the same vibe: You go there with friends, get into a circle, talk with each other, and ignore everyone else. Am I right? People go to a bar, to drink, and be around other people who drink - but don't talk to them or socialize.

  • Bartenders who complain. I may have my pet peeves, but I do realize a simple thing about bartending - the ratio of money to work is ridiculously easy. You pour drinks, talk to people and hang out at a bar for 8 hours - then walk out with a fistload of cash. As much as I may make my comments about my peeves, don't take any of this the wrong way - bartending is one of the best jobs ever. If they had 401K and health care, I would be tempted to leave my IT job and do it fulltime. I sit there and do the math, and some bartenders work two shifts a week (16 hours), and make more money than a schoolteacher who works 5 days a week (35-40 hours).

Hey, that's just me. Have an interesting one? Email me or leave a comment. Same rules about comments apply to real life - don't be a dick. :)


I loved bartending too. I would do it too again if it offered the benefits.

My biggest pet peeve is when wives and/or girlfriends would call the bar for a guy. The Rule of the Bar is always to say NO. So don't bother calling, if he isn't answering his cell then he doesn't want to talk to you.

Ordering stupid drinks in an average bar is so pretencious. Drink beer or regular drinks, period.

Great post. I agree 100% with all of it. I can't stand people that can't order everything at once. Also, at our bar we have a dj and no jukebox, but you're only lucky if you like the mainstream hiphop he plays (i don't).

while i'm not a bartender, i work retail. and many of these same things apply. yesterday: wrapping 4 candles & plates. gentlemen is watching me wrap them, bag them, and says "oh, can you gift box them? so i don't have to later?". this is me biting the insides of my lip. cheers.

I used to work retail so some of these really made me laugh...That said, for all of the above reasons and more, I no longer work with the public.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on November 25, 2005 12:24 AM.

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