You know those pallid, ghostly folks that hang out behind bars? The scowling, hard-to-please people who don’t seem to understand that you’re an all-round classic legend? You have to talk to them - they stand between you and the booze - but why don’t they love me and realise how amazing I am?
Is This Your First Rodeo?
The rules of the pub, like the rules of society, have been developed over hundreds of years to prevent all the major consequences of human drunkenness and stupidity. If they were written up on the walls of the pub, however, there’d be no space for all the 1940s horror film posters and taxidermied otters that make us all feel so at home.
Still, not knowing the basics can get you sniggered at, whispered about, or even hated, so it’s worth learning the rules of bar etiquette.
If you’re buying a round, know what you’re getting before you attempt to order. Order your Guinness first because it takes longest to arrive, and trust in your bartender’s ability to remember at least as many drinks as you can carry. Please use the 90 seconds you've been stood, tutting about slow service, to locate your wallet/purse. The need for you to pay is the most predictable element of this entire affair, do not wait until I ask to realise that your cash is buried in the bottom of a rucksack the size of Belgium.
Crucially, never order cocktails at the pub. They take more time to find the kit and make than they do to drink, and it’s just fruit and booze, my dude, get over it.
You're Trying To Order Something That's Not On The Menu
Following neatly on... Sure, we'll always try to accommodate your request if we can. But if we can't, what you're doing is the equivalent of turning up at the dentists, asking them take a look at your cruciate ligament damage and getting all pissy when they say it's beyond their remit.
Help us to help you, guys.
Interacting Like A Human
If you’ve just stepped away from a 10 hour marathon at a computer screen, you’ll see the world through square eyes as a digital fug. But don’t mistake those chequered-shirted figures behind the bar for pixelated robots. Look closely and you’ll notice those are (vaguely) sentient creatures, smiling, greeting you, waiting patiently for some interaction.
Saying things like 'hi', 'please' and 'cheers' haven’t gone obsolete yet, and some small talk with the bartender could be as vital as the booze you need to ease yourself back into the living world of human interaction.
You might miss us when we get replaced by vending machines - have a chat while you can, it’s free. Oh, and if you’re on the blower while you’re ordering, sorry but you’re getting hated.
No exceptions - them’s the rules.
This Isn't Your Living Room
Once you’ve tried a place out a couple of times, it is very much possible to make yourself too at home in your favourite drinking establishment.
Sure, we're all about 'mi casa es tu casa'. Remember though, just because you use our bar to hide from your family several times a week, doesn't actually make you a member of management.
Moaning about music, kids, menu board placement, air conditioning being hot or too cold or sports being too loud is not going to change anything - they’re there because other people want them to be. Democracy sucks. Kindly keep in mind the furniture is for sitting or eating, it’s not your personal sofa or bed.
The Queue doesn’t pertain to me
British people are renowned the world over for our love of queuing - until it comes to the bar, where impatience for booze trumps all. Queuing is a subtle art, and can be done with charm, grace and politeness.
On the flip side, the queue offers myriad opportunities to get yourself loved on by your bartender. This is because when there’s a queue, there’s more to do. All you have to do is wait for 5 minutes. During hellish shifts behind the bar most staff would punch a penguin in the face for the golden opportunity to stand completely still and think of absolutely nothing for 5 minutes. Count your lucky stars guys.
Only inside your head is there any reason for me to raise my game, go faster, grow an extra pair of arms or whatever it is you want me to do to get you your drinks right now, so just chill. They’re coming.
Another really good way to to lose the love of your bartender is with attention seeking tactics such as finger-clicking, bruv-shouting and tenner-waving. Such extreme cases of bellendery can, in some instances, lead to your being publicly Carraghered, and nobody wants to see that.
Believing That The Female Bar Staff Is Your New Girl Friend
Yes she is attractive, she smiles and laughs at your jokes. This does not mean she has fallen in love with you, wants to go out with you tonight as soon as her 12 hour shift is over and be your mistress. Treat her with the same respect that you would want people to treat your daughter.
Don't Be Suspicious
Certain gentlemen, alumnus of the School of Douche, love nothing more than acting like their bartender is plotting to pull a fast one on them.
You’ve seen them, exaggeratedly checking the watermark on their change, demanding itemised receipts and - extra douche points for this one - asking if you’ve watered their beer down.
Watering Down The Beer Question 1: Why? I’ve chiefed myself a sneaky pint and so to cover my tracks I’ve made the WHOLE BARREL TASTE LIKE WATER?
Question 2: How? I don’t know if you’ve seen a 22 gallon keg but they’re pretty airtight, and look like they could blow up at any point. Nobody's stabbing holes in one of those bad boys just for the sake of a free slurp of Fosters in the cellar.
It's Nothing Personal
If you don’t enjoy being tired, poor, hungover and busy, then maybe bartending isn’t for you.
Shifts often last from morning to gone-midnight, so we’re always looking for ways to banish the boredom. One favourite is a challenge to go without talking for the longest time possible, or saying ‘F**k you’ instead of thank you and ‘jizz’ instead of cheers. Neither big nor clever, but it illustrates where a long stint behind the pumps can send you mentally. As I said, it's often nothing personal, just a case of too many people wanting too many things in a too long day. Nobody hates you.
Ultimately, you are drunk with your friends, and I am not. I'm jealous, that’s all.
When you see a bartender that you want to show some love to, keep in mind a nice tip really helps with the love.