• 57% of bartenders said they’ve had to stop customers from driving home drunk.
  • 1 in 4 also said they have taken customers’ car keys to prevent them from driving.
  • Infographic showing bartender friendships across America.

If there’s a coffee shop you visit frequently, you may walk in each morning with your favorite barista already preparing your regular order – “the usual,” they say with a familiar smile. While this might just mean you love your morning caffeine fix, it can have different connotations when you walk into your local bar and the bartender shouts the same thing! Of course, being on your bartender’s good side can mean the difference between waiting ages for a drink and get served quickly with a smile. It could also depend on things like bar manners, how rowdy you are, how much you tip or if your bartender is judging you for the kind of drink you ordered.

A survey of 3,255 drinkers by Rehabs.com found that almost a third (30%) of those in Maryland consider their local bartender a friend. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with having a good old-fashioned conversation with your server, however, the fact that so many drinkers are actually friends with their bartender could indicate that they frequent the bar more regularly than what may be considered healthy. After all, the word ‘friend’ implies a relationship that’s reciprocated and built up over time (and possibly over a good few drinks).

Infographic showing bartender friendships across America

It’s often rowdy behavior that can get you into trouble at bars, which can be exacerbated if you’ve had one too many drinks and still ask for more. Despite this, and the potential dangers that can arise, more than 1 in 5 bartenders said they wouldn’t cut off a customer regardless of how much they’ve had to drink. The laws regarding overserving customers differ by state, and in those states where they’re applicable, these guidelines are often referred to as “Dram Shop” laws, which hold that serving alcohol is liable for the acts committed by the intoxicated person/people they’re serving. For example, in Ohio it’s against the law to serve alcohol to anyone that’s intoxicated and it’s on the establishment’s employees to be able to detect that. 

It seems bartending is not all fun and games as more than half (57%) of bartenders also said they’ve had to stop customers from driving home drunk by calling them a ride-hailing service. Nearly 1 in 4 also said they have taken customers’ car keys to prevent them from driving. Given the high rate of drunk-driving-related deaths in the US (more than 10,000 deaths as a result in 2019 alone), many bartenders also take it upon themselves to help decrease these incidents. In fact, a separate study also found that more than 1 in 10 drinkers admittedly drink so much that they end up passing out and having blackouts.

Aside from bartenders having your back when it comes to getting home, some may genuinely enjoy getting to know customers, especially those who frequent the establishment.

But if you’re trying to get into your bartender’s good books, it’s probably a good idea to avoid the following behaviors, which bartenders ranked in order of annoyance on a scale from 1 to 7 (with 7 being the most annoying):

  • Asking your bartender for a free drink – 6.1/7
  • Whistling to get their attention – 5.7/7 
  • Asking them to ‘surprise you’ when ordering a new drink – 4.7/7 
  • Asking them to ‘make it strong’ when ordering an alcoholic drink – 4.6/7 
  • Flashing a tip to get their attention – 4.5/7
  • Excessive conversation – 4.3/7
  • Flirting with the bartender – 4/7
  • Ordering multiple drinks at a time – 3.9/7
  • Ordering for a large part of people – 3.9/7
  • Not using a coaster or napkin on the counter or table – 3.5/7

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