Ordering a drink at a bar is a somewhat elusive art. While we learn from a relatively tender age how to properly behave in a restaurant, place an order with a server, and leave an appropriate tip, it is rare that any budding adult has had training on how to order booze. In fact, our first efforts in bars are so frequently geared towards making sure our fake IDs aren’t taken away that we seldom realize there is an unspoken etiquette that needs to be observed whilst at the adult watering hole.

How to place your order

If you think they may not have seen you, or they didn’t hear your whimpering for a cocktail, you’re wrong. Bartenders see and hear everything (yes, even that one you thought couldn’t hear you telling your friend you thought he’s cute). First off, when attempting to get a tenders attention, please refrain from any of the following:

Waving a credit card/cash in the bartenders face (bartenders see everything)

Clicking/clapping/yelling (bartenders hear everything)

Shoving the people who have waited patiently to get to the bar (you get the point – act like an ass and its not gonna happen)

Once you’ve secured the bartenders attention, the worst you could do is waste his or her time. Get right to the point and order your drinks.

Use good manners

Know your order. Look a cocktail menu or beer list over before getting the bartenders attention. 1

Got a big order? Order all the drinks at once. Make sure everyone in your party knows what they want. This may seem counterintuitive but a bartender is most concerned with drink production efficiency (more drinks made = more tips paid). Making one round of five drinks is faster than making five rounds of one drink.

Stay attentive after you’ve placed your order – turn around or walk away to a conversation with your friends and you may never receive your drink. Thirsty people pay attention.

Now that you’ve placed and received your order like a gentleman or gentlewoman, it’s time to tip like one. Remember, like most positions in the service industry, bartenders are getting paid minimum wage or below. Not tipping is like deciding that your tender doesn’t deserve a paycheck. While it’s understood that you may be new to adulthood and therefore low on cash, it’s still good manners to huck over at least 20% (or at least two dollars per cheap beer/cocktail), though we will get to the benefits of tipping more soon…

Thats it! Congratulations, you’ve now ordered liquor like fully functional adult. 


  1. Be nice

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