Bar Etiquette | Ordering a Drink

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

Mastering the Informational Interview

If I’ve learned anything in my first year of full time employment, it’s relationships matter. Yes, the other stuff is important too (like actually being good at your job), but networking is the crème de la crème of a successful career. Don’t know how to start networking? Here’s a top 8 (anyone else automatically think of Myspace?) list of things to follow.


Think of people you know in your career field (or the field you want to be in!) It could be a family member, a friend, a teacher, a friend’s friend, anyone you can think of. If you can make a list of 5-10 people to contact, that’s great. But really, you only need one person to start the process.

Reach Out

Contact the people on your list by calling or emailing them. Ask them if they would have time to meet you for an informational interview. Offer to go to their work or near their house. If they aren’t able to meet you personally, a phone conversation is always an option. You want to make sure you are making it as easy as possible on them.

Fair warning, people are usually quite busy working and you may have to email or call the person a few times before you lock something down. But beware; there is a fine line between being tenacious and being obnoxious, especially during an interview.


Assume you will only have 15 minutes to talk. It’s possible you may luck out and have much longer, but you should go in thinking you only have time for specific questions. You should have some general questions (i.e. how did you break into the field, could you look at my resume and cover letter), and your specific “ask” too. Think about something they could potentially help you with. They may say no, but you’ll never know unless you ask!

The Interview

Show up early! Dress professionally. Bring a pen and notebook so you can take notes during the interview. 

Remember, the point of your meeting is to listen to the person and take in their knowledge. Don’t interject them or finish their sentence. Ask them your question, then sit back and take notes.

The Ask

Remember your prepared asks, but the most important ask is: Can you refer me to a few other people I could also speak with? This is the key to expanding your network. Every time you meet someone, you should always ask him or her to connect you to someone else.

Follow up

If possible, send a handwritten thank you note to the person. A toddler can write an email these days, but if you take time to handwrite a thank you note, you will impress someone. Our generation thinks of handwritten letters as archaic, but this can help you stand out from the crowd. If you think snail mail is too slow, send a thank you email. Thank them for their time and mention something specific you learned. If they haven’t already, remind them to connect you to one of their colleagues.


An old senior colleague of mine taught me this trick and it’s made a huge difference in my networking skills. Create a Google Doc where you can track all of your networking meetings you’ve had. Feel free to tailor the tabs to your liking, but mine are the following:

Name, Company, Email, Phone Number, Date of Meeting, Location of Meeting, Notes 


Continue interviewing like this even while you have a job! You never know who can help you later in life. Make sure to also keep in contact with your network. If you get a promotion or move jobs, let them know! You may feel like you’re bothering them, but it’s just one email, and if they think you are annoying- they will just junk you. No harm no foul.