Lesson 1: Bar Etiquette
First, let me start by saying that the gay bar scene has treated me exceptionally well and I have never had a job I enjoyed more. The amount of people you meet, the crazy happenings, awe inspiring community events, and just the sheer fun of the scene makes it all worthwhile. However, as you will read in this and future writings from me, there are certain customs to observe, boundaries not to push, lines not to cross, and rules to follow.
Lesson 1: Bar Etiquette
There is nothing that makes a bartender happier than seeing people walk through the door of their establishment, smiling and ready to have a good time. Everyone knows exactly what he or she wants to drink, they say thank you, and tip accordingly… in an ideal situation. This so rarely happens that it has almost become like sighting Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.
First and foremost, only approach the bar if you know what you want to drink. There is no reason to be flagging down a bartender unless you know exactly what you want. We are EXTREMELY busy, so when someone grabs our attention, and then the first thing out of their mouth is “uhhhhh” it detracts valuable time from us helping others, ensuring great customer service, and making tips. Also, speaking of getting a bartenders attention, please do not tap your credit card, lean half your body over the bar, click your nails, snap fingers in our face, scream, or flutter your arms about in a monkey-like fashion. A simple nod, wave of hand, or eye contact is more than enough to communicate you are ready for another beverage.
When ordering drinks for multiple people, please give your complete list and allow us to get them prepared. Do not keep adding on shot-after-shot and drink-after-drink; we have other customers to attend to. As a rule we all have great memories for lists, and we can handle a large order. Also when ordering for a group, decide on a shot together. Ordering a Red Headed Slut, a Lemon Drop, a shot of Patron, an Undercurrent, a Mind Eraser, and whatever else you care to add to that list is so frustrating you are likely to be ignored the next time you come to the bar for a round. Come together with your friends and compromise!
TIP, TIP, TIP! There is nothing that will earn a bartender’s appreciation and attention to you quicker than a decent tip. A standard tip, as I was taught years ago, is to tip a dollar a drink, be it a beer, cocktail, or shot. Leaving change is insulting. Newsflash: If you don’t have enough money to tip your bartender fairly, you shouldn’t have gone out that night! If you’ve run up a large bar tab, tip twenty percent or more. We will always remember a good tipper and go out of our way to make sure you receive superb service and have a great time. Always remember the golden number, 20%. Individuals working in the service industry, on average, make $2.19 an hour. Tips are our compensation for the nights work. So for those of you under the misconception that we are being paid a handsome hourly rate, wake up. We are there to make your night as fun and fulfilling as possible, please return the favor in kind.
If you are a regular at a bar, you may have noticed your tab was cheaper than you expected, and there’s a reason for that. If you treat a bartender well, and we know you, you are likely to find yourself with a comped drink or two. Do not EVER ask a bartender to “hook you up.” Not only will this definitely not happen on account of your rudeness, you will probably end up with weaker drinks, and will likely never get “hooked up” in the future. It’s like asking for a kiss; if you have to do so, you were probably never going to get one in the first place. We know what we are doing, and we certainly don’t come to your job and ask you to “hook” us up. Most of the restaurants/bars in this city are privately owned, not run by large corporations. These private owners have sunk ungodly amounts of their own money into keeping their restaurants in top-running shape, and our loyalty will immediately be to them and ensuring they are making money. We are not here to make sure you have a cheap night out drinking, only that you are provided with excellent service in a timely manner.
Try to remember these words of advice the next time you visit one of the fine establishments around this fair city of ours, and you will more often than not find yourself with a much better experience overall.
Cheers, be safe, and see you out on the town!
The Duke has been a bartender in Richmond for several years and knows the scene front and back. He offers a few do’s and don’ts and tells stories about dudes and duds on GayRVA.
A new nightlife spot, S@mple, has all the glisten of a big city gay bar – In the heart of VCU, it’s ready for the party.February 24, 2012
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