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Here's What Bartenders Have To Say About Getting Served First

Never wait 30 minutes for a drink again.

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Want to get served quickly? Listen to what our bartenders have to say.

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Your bartender is the gatekeeper to all your drinking needs — so we talked to four talented workers for advice on getting served first and making sure you don't piss them off.

Felix Cohen runs the Manhattans Project and has been tending bar for 11 years. David Wringley runs bars for Tonkotsu restaurants and has been in the business for a decade. Laura Ryan Bryce has been working in Revolution Bars for close to five years, and Tom McKay worked in Wetherspoon's pubs for four years.

Listen, learn, appreciate. Drinking Valhalla awaits.

1. First things first, get off your damn phone.

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All our bartenders agree that eye contact is vital when getting served quickly. So keep your phone in your pocket when at the bar, and look attentive.

"If you're texting/phoning/checking your numbers on Twitter, I won't serve you till you're ready to give it your attention," Cohen says. "It's only polite!"

What you're trying to do is be seen to get seen to. "Smiling or saying hi when I look at a customer keeps them in my head and helps me keep track of who's next," says Bryce. A quick bit of eye contact with your bartender is the best way to fix yourself in a bartender's mental queue of who to go to next.

2. But that said, don't try to outsmart your bartender with the queue order.

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"Any bartender worth their salt can remember exactly in which order customers arrived at the bar," Wringley says. "My inner monologue when bartending usually ran something like, 'Her then him then him then her... He's a dick, skip him, then her, TIPPER – she's first' and so on".

You don't want to be the dick. Don't get skipped. Wait your turn.

3. Make sure you know what you want.

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There are few things that rub up a bartender the wrong way more than the following conversation, McKay says:

"Do you have Stella?"






"Well, what do you have, mate?!"

So know thyself. Have a look at the bar taps and fridges for what's on offer; try to grab a menu if you're in a cocktail place. Always make sure you know what you want before your order.

And never, ever wait till the last minute to get your order in from friends for a round. Listen to Cohen: "If you’re slowly getting your orders from your friends while you’re ordering, I will literally climb over the bar and shiv you with a bar spoon."


4. And sort out how you make your order.

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As our bartenders put it, the manner in which you get your first round can affect where you land in a queue for your third and fourth. "If it's not the first time I've served you," Cohen says, "and I know your order is garbage or you're going to take forever, that'll get you dropped quickly too."

Structuring your order and being aware of how long it takes for certain drinks to be made can save you lot of time while waiting for a drink, and earn you your bartender's favour at the same time. "If you're going to ask for eight porn star martinis, you're going to be a while, and don't you dare moan about it," Bryce says. If you're ordering a Guinness, order it first – they take a while to pull.

Follow Cohen's advice: "Never, ever, ever order a drink, then realise you need another one once I’ve made the first."

5. There's a hierarchy to cocktails.

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Here are Wringley's handy bartender rules of thumb for ordering cocktails:

1) Old-Fashioneds take a long time and you're not Don Draper, so save it for a quiet night.

2) If you order a Manhattan, the bartender will assume you're the boss.

3) Mojitos are for rubes.

4) Margaritas are always OK.

5) Order something classy like a sidecar for maximum bartender love.

6) Gin martinis are for sexy people. They are not shaken. They do not contain vodka.

7) Grasshoppers are not funny.

8) Appletinis are not OK.

So now you know.

6. Tips always help.

Don't be Mr Pink. Sparing a little shrapnel with each round can go a long way to bumping your way up the bartender queue. "It's good policy to tip big on your first drink," Wringley says. "If you're in a pub rather than a bar, buy the server a drink instead. The bartender will remember you and bump you up the queue."

Interestingly, Wetherspoon's has a no-tipping policy, although that doesn't mean a penny or two can't help, McKay says: "If there was a kindhearted individual that said keep the change, I'd be damned if I wasn't going to slip that 30p right into my pocket! Although if you count tipping as sliding over the coppers you have left over and saying, 'Enjoy!' you can go fuck yourself."

Harsh, but fair. Much like your tipping should be.

7. But the most important thing is be nice or leave.


All of our bartenders agree: Be nice and get served quickly. Be a dick and you may as well leave. Cohen provides his handy list of no-nos: "Any sort of finger clicking, shouting, pushing, or general rudeness gets you dropped."

Wringley has his own pet hates: "Don't tell the bartender you're next; it's patronising and liable to get you knocked down the queue. Don't flash your cash or tap your card on the bar. I find it hard to believe I have to say this, but you'd be surprised: Don't whistle or click your fingers. You will never get served even if you camp out at that bar for a week."

As with so many things in life, everything about getting served quickly and not making the bartender hate you can be glibly summed up by Wheaton's Law: "Don't be a dick."