As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might adhere to inside…but of course, that is not the case. Etiquette is thin, and “drunk and orderly” isn’t a thing. But with a little attention, you can in fact carry yourself with grace into a low-grade afternoon hangover. Or a bankrupt morning with dignity. And you can learn the most about this behavior from those serving you the loud mouth soup (and knowing your own strength and tolerance helps too). We asked one of Orange County’s fine bartenders for some guidance, right here in the heat of summer. And with a little practice, maybe you can be drunk and fun and still maintain some self respect.
Be mindful of the bar tenders situation: If it’s packed — you know, rows and rows of people backed up looking to get a drink, for the sake of all that is holy don’t come up and handcuff the poor tender with an order that takes them a large amount of time i.e. eight mojitos, or a slightly exotic martini with a sugar rim and a sprinkling of black truffle shavings, or any other oddity drink that will take 10 minutes to make. Order simply, and save your fancy orders for slower times. Oh, and in this crucial moment, don’t order a speciality drink you had somewhere else. Just because you had some fruity embarrassment at a TGIFridays on a summers eve last year with a girl who broke your heart, this bar probably doesn’t have it. Stick to the classics in these situations.
Buying girls drinks: Buying girls drinks from across the bar is a tricky one — especially ones you haven’t made previous contact with. Buying drinks for someone as a means to break the ice, usually ends badly. They take the drinks and maybe, that’s a big maybe, they’ll talk to you for a hot second for a semi-sincere-pity-thank-you but then they’ll bail. Every time. I’ve seen it. Save your money, and your dignity, just grow a pair and go up and talk to them like people used to do before the rise of the internet and cyber dating. And if you’re going to go that route do it tastefully, don’t just start ordering Jagerbombs with a heavy jockularity (I made that word up) vibe as you pump yourself up by beating on your chest like an ape. Girls will scatter like cockroaches if you do and you’ll undoubtably be enjoying yet another lonely evening. Know that when some sweet girl comes up looking like a miracle itself, and you come at her with some inaudible gargling sound after having one too many jockularities, yes, you just blew it. Just be mellow man, spin the conversation yarn and ask her what she wants and politely order. Let the booze work its magic and if there’s a connection usually the bartender will recognize it and slide you two a shot on the house. Your mellow vibe will pay off when you and your new found love interest take down the free drinks as your eyes lock, and we throw away the key.
Know Your Order : When your lucky number comes up and you get called upon to order, do not at that moment to then turn around and begin asking questions to your friends about what they want. Give the order swiftly and in full, as we can prepare them in one swift blend of movements. And please don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t know what you want, and then proceed to pile that responsibility onto us. Like you’ve never been to bar before, never had a drink you enjoy “Oh well, you know, something with vodka, but no tonic water, it gives me hives. Surprise me. Make it stiff!” That’s the worst of the worst.
Once the drinks are prepared and presented to you, please have payment ready. Don’t then pull out your velcro wallet and fumble about with your cluttered mess of a wallet, people are waiting, staring, and if the next guy talks shit to us for it taking too long to get to them via your lag, we’ll remember.
Be Social: Stop staring at your phone, get your ass off the stool, arch your foot, and dip it into the pool of beautiful people standing around you. You can doodle on your phone later. Nothing dries up panties quicker than seeing a guys face basking in the glow of his phone. Need to make a call? Remove yourself, go outside. Look bossy, not bored. And vice versa, guys don’t like it either. Both parties look bored, when really it should be an exciting setting as new souls encounter each other for the first time, connecting on various levels outside the realms of a hand held device. You didn’t make plans, get ready, take an Uber, buy a drink to ultimately play on your phone. Enjoy the company.
Don’t overdue it i.e. Black Out: Ah, the good ol’ pastime we love to hate. There’s no easy way of handling it. It happens. Though it is the bartender’s job to make sure it doesn’t. The state law has it out for us if we over pour you and you slip down that dark road. Most people don’t know that, but yes, we can actually get in serious trouble with the law if you hurt yourselves and it’s deemed you were over served. And I’m not going to civil court so muscle-T-McGee can have one more shot and go joy riding down PCH in his mustang. No chance. So if you or someone you know gets cut off, don’t start throwing glassware at the bartender (this has happened to me) it’s for your own well being. Knowing that just try and be mindful of your limits. And what your body can handle. Projectile vomiting sucks and we don’t want to clean it up. Then you’ll get thrown out and go take a nap in the plants. Everyone loses.
Beware of the Shampoo Effect: Especially in these dog days of summer. If you start drinking the following day before your poor soul can sober up, it will keep you on nodding terms with the person you were the night before, whether you found them attractive company or not. Usually though, the dark corner of your mind that came out to play the night prior isn’t attractive company. Know that before hand or you will most certainly lather that company up. Do it for you, and for us. So when your inhibitions are out to lunch and that dark corner comes out to play we’re not left to pick up the pieces.
Do not…: Snap, clap, or aggressively wave to get attention, you’re done. If you’re seen performing such actions you will, in imagination, turn to glass and be completely transparent to the overlords pouring your drinks. Don’t do that. And tipping in cents (example: $1.50) isn’t sick. I mean, we’re stoked you’re tipping at all but save the 50 cents for the meter. And don’t say “make it strong” for fucks sake. We will not make it strong, in fact we’ll short pour it after that. “Lemme get a Strong Island!” nah, don’t say that either or any other oddly semi-clever pun you come up with to try and squeeze more booze out of us. And try, please try, to pay in one form of payment. Just buy a round for your pals and take turns. Having to run six cards to pay for six drinks is just no fun. There are plenty of methods of repayment you can do on your own time. Let’s get you back to your friends not running machines. Being weirdly friendly is also a red flag, I mean, a guy I met three Sundays ago for three seconds yells my name out and puts his hand up high for the highest of high fives, but we are not friends, and frankly, he scares me.
In the end: Bars are a great place to connect with new souls that make you feel alive. We’re all there to meet and mingle. But be mindful, they’re a double edged sword as they’ll suck the life out of you just as easily. People always ask me how is it that I, a man who may or may not be 27, 33, or even 48 years old can remain so svelte, spry and vigorous while drifting into life’s inevitable autumn years?
I stopped drinking years ago of course. That shit’ll kill ya. But drinking is a damn good time, and mostly the people inside the bars are a fun bunch, but some of them give me night terrors.
And I hope this helps you from becoming my nightmare, and the world’s for that matter. Know thyself friends, be polite and don’t order ridiculous drinks at crowded bars. Oh God, I can hear them now…asking me for something sweet, but not with pineapple, and super strong. —Brady Field