Top Ten Rules of Bar Etiquette

By Amy Jones

“A bar is a delicate ecosystem that is doing its thing,” a bartender friend of mine tells me. “And when you try to assert yourself there, you aren’t helping anything—you’re making it worse.” To behave well at a bar is to behave well towards the people who work there, as well as the other people drinking there. Or just, you know, behaving well towards people in general. So come on, TBay, let’s do this. We may not have the most bars in the world, but we can have the nicest.

1. Don’t whistle, wave, snap, or wave money at the bartender – Doing this will not get you faster service. It will, however, make everyone else in the bar think you’re a douchebag.

2. Don’t take out your phone at the table – Unless you’re expecting an important work email. Or you want to take a selfie with your friends. Or show them that awesome video of that baby deer playing with the baby rabbit.

3. Tip well – Tip well. Just do it. Tip well. Your server has to deal with you and your friends spilling tequila all over the floor, telling her over and over again how shelooks like that one actress from that movie, you know the one I mean,” and belting out the lyrics to the theme song from Family Ties. She deserves all the money in the world. Sha la la la!

4. Don’t rearrange the tables without permission – You wouldn’t go to your friend’s house and rearrange their furniture, would you?

5. Don’t peel off your beer labels – It’s disrespectful to your server, and it’s disrespectful to your beer.

6. Don’t argue with the bartender about being cut off – Trust him, he does this for a living. And you, my friend, are drunker than you think you are.

7. Leave the bathroom the way you found it – That means if you accidentally pee on something, you should probably clean it up.

8. Don’t ask your bartender if she’s seen Cocktail Hahaha, she’s never heard that one before.

9. Know what you want – If the bar is super busy, get in, get your drink, and get out. Don’t hem and haw, don’t ask the bartender to list all the types of drinks they know how to make, don’t stand around the bar after you get your drink chatting with that cute guy with the beard, and don’t order anything that involves any shaking, muddling, crushed ice, peeled grapes, the blood of a righteous man, etc.

10. Call a cab – Or designate a driver. Or take the bus. Or walk. This isn’t just good etiquette—it’s non-negotiable.