Tips from the bar: How to not get served

A long-time barman shares some tips for how to not be ‘that guy’ at the bar


I spent the better part of my university life working behind one of the busiest student bars in town, and the bar can be a hectic place for both the workers and the punters. So, whether it’s a huge club or a tiny pub, here’s my top tips on how to not get served.

Wave your money at the bar staff

We’re not strippers. If you’re at the bar, we assume that you have the money to pay. By all means, get it ready in your hand, but don’t wave it around like you’re Hugh Hefner going down the Red Light District.

Champagne?! Good god, no! That’s Prosecco, darling!

Snog at the bar

One of the last things I want to see on the back-end of a long shift is you tonguing someone like you’re trying to get to the bottom of a yoghurt without a spoon.

‘I’ve been here for ages!’

Dude, I saw you get to the bar two seconds ago. Chill.

Make sure everyone knows that you’re more important than them

If I see you push in front of a small girl who’s been patiently waiting, as if you’re more deserving of a refreshing jäger-bomb, I stop seeing you as a customer and start seeing you as a self-centred dickhead. Don’t push in.

Order one drink at a time for a big round

You order a drink, so I walk to the other end of the bar to get it. Then I come back with it, and you order another.

So I go back to the other end. This can go on for quite a while, and it’ll certainly make me remember not to serve you next time you come up to buy a round.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to bar staff from all over, and the majority do (despite what you may think) have enough memory to store more than one drink.

Order pint. Bolt pint.

Speak as few words as possible

Despite what some people may think, bar staff are people too, so it can help to say hello or at least a please and thank you. It might seem obvious to some, but if I say “Hi mate, how can I help?” and without letting me finish you bark back “two Fosters.” it’s just a little bit rude. Taking the time to be polite will make a world of difference to a tired lashbringer.

Make sure your group is the loudest in the whole place

If you don’t want to get served, one of the best things you can do is start an annoyingly loud chant at the bar, or sit at a table resounding “we like to drink with -” at the top of your voices every two minutes. By all means, have a good time, but try and keep the rowdiness away from the bar, because it’s loud enough as it is.

Don’t stop, belieeeeeeeevin’

Hurl abuse at the bar staff

Might seem obvious, but not to some people. Even if it’s just part of a joke with your friends, it might not seem that way to the work-addled mind of a bar-jockey. If someone is serving you, don’t treat them like shit.

‘What’s your nicest drink?’

Seriously? I know that if you’re not too into the whole bar thing you might feel a bit overwhelmed by a cocktail menu, but take a bit of time to have a look, because you’ll probably find something that sounds nice (and generally cocktails are put on a menu because they are nice!).

Click your fingers at the bar staff

Unless you’ve been checking out my arse all night and it’s a damn-you-lookin-fine wolf whistle,  keep it zipped. Whistling, clicking your fingers and shouting “oi, mate!” will instantly put you on the not-serving-that-guy list.

This may seem like a miserable rant, but it’s more of an attempt to make nightclubs and bars a nicer place. So please, remember to be nice to the people behind the bar. After all, your drunkenness is in their hands.