How To Get A Bartender's Attention Without Being A Jerk

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People like drinking in bars, because that’s where the alcohol is. But, in the case of good bars, that’s also where the people are, which means you may not always get your drink as quickly as you think you should.

This can result in feeling some amount of anxiety over whether the bartender sees you, which can result in executing moves such as “the cash wave” or “the impatient loud sigh.” These are not fantastic strategies. According to Daniel Casto, the bar manager at Portland’s Double Dragon, the best tactic for getting the attention (and drink) that you desire is “eye contact — that’s it.” No handwaving, no shouting; just look at the bartender and stay in the same spot.

In his book, Drinking Distilled, Jeffrey Morgenthaler (of Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko) has similar advice:

When you approach the bar to order a drink, pick a location and wait patiently. That’s all you have to do! The bartender knows exactly who is next and will be with you as soon as they can. Waving your hands, shaking a fistful of money or flashing a gold card, calling out to the staff, or trying to order from the barback is unacceptable, and it doesn’t get you a drink any more quickly.

Rather, it only irritates the staff. And let’s face it, do we really want to spend time at a bar where the people working are irritated by our behaviour?

So the next time you find yourself worrying that you will surely perish before you are served an adult beverage, relax, stay where you are, and just look at the bartender. (You can blink though. Blinking won’t make you lose your spot in line.)


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