What is Proper Bar Etiquette?

What is Proper Bar Etiquette?

You may think that it is easy to saunter into the local watering hole, sit down and order a drink, but in reality, there is proper bar etiquette to follow. This will benefit you, the bartender and everyone else in the bar.

proper bar etiquette

First, we will show you some things that you should do. Then, we will show you some things that you should not do, as these can result in getting you thrown out and banned from an establishment.




Be Polite

Be polite and always use “please” and “thank you”.  This is the base-line for being a decent human being, and it should be practiced every time you enter a bar or club.

Be Ready

Always have your money ready when your bartender returns with your drink.  This will keep things moving along very smoothly.

Keep it Simple

Order all your drinks at the same time, as this will save you time (as you can return to your company). This will also give the bartender the ability to take care of other waiting customers.

Wait your turn, even if you are just ordering a glass of water.




Make Assumptions

Don’t assume that soft drinks are free.  Everyone on the road appreciates the fact that you may have volunteered to be a designated driver for the evening. However, that does not mean that the establishment is required to provide you with soft drinks for free.

Argue with the Bartender

Do not question the bartender or argue about your tab.  Remember, the bartender is the sober one.  If your tab says that you have had 10 drinks, then it is more than likely that you had 10 drinks. Ask for a manager if you believe you are right.

Leave Drinks Unattended

Do not leave your drinks unattended on the bar.  First of all, someone, with not so honorable intentions, may put something dangerous in your drink.  In addition, if a drink is left unattended on the bar, it is assumed by the bartender, that you are finished and it will be thrown out.

Ask for a Drink Tray

Don’t ask for a tray to carry your drinks, because you probably will not get one.  Customers are not insured, and if there is an accident involving a tray then the bar will be liable.  Either bring a friend to the bar with you, or make two trips back and forth from your table.

Complain about Prices

Don’t complain about the prices to the bartender, they don’t make them, and they do not have the authority to adjust.  If you are not happy with the prices, it is advised that you order something different or choose a different establishment.

Here are some additional DO NOT’s:

  • Do not place an order if you are not paying for the drinks.
  • Do not make eye contact with bartender, unless you want his attention and intend on ordering a drink. This is a universal understanding of all bartenders.
  • Do not ask the bartender to keep your personal items (coats, purse, keys, phone, etc.) behind the bar or charge your cell phone.  It is a bar, not a locker room.  A bartender’s job is not to be responsible for your valuables.
  • Do not ask for separate checks when ordering several drinks. In the same manner, do not use your credit card for every transaction, this slows down the process.  Ask the bartender to keep a tab and pay it all at once, at the end of the evening.
  • Do not bang on the bar, you are not a Viking.  Do not make a fool of yourself. The bartender will see you, so there is no need to annoy the other patrons or the bartender.

As you can see, the “do not’s” outweigh the “do’s”. There are, however a couple of Nevers.




Touch the Bartender

Never touch the bartender, as you may get tossed out!  This is very poor bar etiquette.  If the bartender wants to interact with you on that level, they will initiate it.

Go Behind the Bar

This is similar to a customer walking in front of a cash register at a retail store.  If you attempt this, you will be “escorted” out, and worse possibly arrested!


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