Screwed Up Beer Week (vol 12) - Don't Be "That Guy"! Here's How...
Written By: Kevin Patterson on 03/27/2014
An absolute tool walks into a bar. Its a fairly busy weekend night but we bartenders are keeping up with the traffic rather well. But as this tool approaches the bar, he reaches over the customer directly in front of him and introduces himself with a sharp whistle and a "Yo, barkeep!..." as he's waving a twenty dollar bill in my direction. Its quite obvious that he needs a beer, needs it now and has zero concern for anyone else in the room.
This tool has been in my bar for hardly a minute and he has already crossed the threshold of three of my bar-tending pet peeves. First of all, don't whistle me over like I've been a bad puppy that just pooped on your silk boxers. Don't call me "barkeep". And certainly don't dangle a twenty in front of me as if I'm going to snag it like a mindless trout (a fifty maybe...) It wasn't until later that I was able to figure him out- long after I daydreamed about karate-chopping him in the throat; long after I recommended to him a highly overpriced beer; long after I made his girlfriend like me much more than him- after which it dawned on me that this tool had never been to a craft beer bar before. He's bringing his night-club bravado into my bar and assumes it works the same way. He couldn't be more wrong.
So as a public service announcement to all bar-goers out there, I'm happy to discuss some of the craft beer server's pet peeves. They may not be what you'd expect. Keep in mind that most folks in the better beer industry are really nice guys and gals, and we genuinely care about having meaningful relationships with our customers. And we will happily tolerate many of our agitations when things run slow, but when things get cranking you really shouldn't do those things anymore.
I'm your bartender, not your maid: Order some food, make origami, peel your beer labels, rip apart your coaster, clean out your toe-jam in the corner- that's all fine. But at the end of your stint, clean up after yourself a bit. At least confine your mess to an easy cleanse. But if you really want to get on my good side, ask if you can throw it in the trash yourself. Impressive! Of course I'll pretend that it's no big deal, but it's kind of a big deal!
Asking for a recommendation, then ignoring the recommendation: Yes, it happens. "What do you suggest," and then I go to the newly released ale that just came out. "I don't like ales," so I reach for a classic lager. "I don't like lagers either." Come on sour-puss, time's-a-tickin' and I have actual money to make with the half-dozen thirsty imbibers behind you. We know that we have a lot of unusual things that make the uninitiated uncomfortable with their choice. But you gotta get comfortable. And you do that only by tasting and learning. Be adventurous by what you like and what you don't.
Get the hell out of my bubble!: When folks drink, there seems to be the need for them to crawl up in my shirt in order to talk with me. Don't be that guy! I don't need your halitosis and stout breath sticking to my hair to have a good chat. Especially if I'm behind the bar. That's my space- not yours. You cross that imaginary line where the business side of the bar starts and the friendly side ends and I have full permission to put your ass to work! We're probably not as close as you think. Simply put, don't chase me around the bar.
Complaining about pour size: A good beer bar will have a menu equipped with the size of the pour spelled right out for you. "I didn't want it in that tiny little glass". The menu has right there- 9oz. "There can't possibly be 9oz in here." Keep in mind that the shape of a glass plays a lot of games on the drunken mind. Trust me, I'm a trained professional. Or the "But I wanted the 15% beer in the 20oz glass. "When I explain that's a $15 beer, that's somehow unacceptable as well.
Be decisive: Don't stare at me with that impatient twinkle in your eye and then hum-and-haw when I ask for your order. Don't ask me to pour you Beery Brewing Company's Beery Ale and then wait on me to bring it to you and then ask for that same exact beer immediately afterward. I can handle your entire order at once. Like I said, trust me! Most importantly, don't order a beer and then walk the fuck off! What's up with that? If you want the beer, wait for the damn beer... because I'm not going to chase you around the bar either.
Don't dominate the televisions: I regret the need to have either of the televisions that adorn my bar, but yet there's the need so they're there. We'll put the more popular programs on but they will never drown out the conversation so don't ask for me to turn up the volume and certainly don't ask me to put it on your third-world country's soccer game that no one cares about. (No one likes those European accents when we're not in Europe) Its fine if you have a request, as long as it doesn't come at the dismay of others around you, ...or especially me.
Just because you have beer doesn't mean that your not done: "Last Call!" you hear. But this conversation with the guy in the bow tie is going so well that you want to squeeze in one more pint- no problem. But you can't drink half the beer and think that the other half is buying you permission to stick around and explore the cosmos in conversation for an hour and a half. Drink your last-call beer with a sense of urgency or get the hell out! As riveting as that conversation is, I'm sure it'll sound just as nice on the sidewalk as it does on the bar stool.
So, why should you care about keeping your bartender happy, you say? It turns out that bartenders are given a unique power. Because we deal with alcohol, a controlled substance, the state grants us the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. So if you want my beer, you need to keep me happy. But feel free to take me to task on any peeve you want when the bar is bare and I need your entertainment, however when we're elbows to assholes you need to get your shit together!
...to be continued...
Follow the conversation with me on Twitter: @BEERchitect #ScrewedUpBeerWeek to keep things rolling.