Every industry has "insider secrets," and that is no exception when it comes to the world of bartending. Be sure to read on to learn more about how they make drinks "stronger," or what drinks you really are wasting your money on, or even how they cleverly cut off
How To Make A Drink Stronger (Without Actually Making It Stronger).
“If a customer asks you to make his drinks stronger (and you are already pouring correctly) pour a tiny drop of the predominant liquor in the drink’s straw and the customer’s first sip will taste more potent. Your customer will be convinced the entire drink is stronger, so you will have a happier customer, you won’t be screwing your bar over by over-pouring, and just maayyybe receive a little bit better tip. Bonus: if your bottles have a metal pour spout [attachment], they fit directly into a standard drink straw (not a cocktail/sip straw)” (Source).
O’Douls And Tinder Dates.
“If a customer was getting too drunk before cutting them off, I would pour them a non alcoholic beer and tell them ‘it’s on the house.’ When they were done with that beer, I would then say… ‘Hey do me a favor.. after this beer have a glass of water, I don’t want you to get a hangover!’ Usually in that time frame, they would realize they were getting too drunk and leave. I always preferred this method over cutting people off, as they would resist it. I would try to take steps so they would think that leaving the bar was their idea, not mine.
That, and watching Tinder/OK Cupid dates were the best. You could always spot one from a mile away. I would make bets with the other customers as to how the date would turn out. The Tinderers had no idea they were there for our amusement” (Source).
Get The Most Out Of Your Shot.
“So you want a shot of tequila?
Ask the bartender for a tequila martini, no dry vermouth. Here or she may look at you weird for a second to try and figure that out, but when they finally get it, they will dump a bunch of tequila in a pint glass and start shaking your ‘shot.’
Depending on the bar, you could be getting the difference between 1 ounce and 2.5–3 ounces for a couple/few extra dollars. Go ahead and ask for a lime twist while you’re at it, it’s not only cool looking but it completely changes the aromatics of the drink and gives most bartenders a chance to try and twist a lime for the first time.
Just to take this a step further, when you ask for a Grey Goose martini, you’re actually getting a chilled shot of vodka. More than half of the bartenders out there don’t even put dry vermouth in their martinis, and the other half that will ‘rinse’ the glass with the dry vermouth are wasting product because you can’t even taste that. It’s a placebo, you can’t taste it” (Source).
How They Make You Feel “Special.”
“Making people think they’re special. It’s easy once you’ve mastered some easy tactics like: If someone is getting a Red Bull vodka, you’re only using half the can to make the drink. At my bar we ring it out as 1 shot vodka and 1 can Red Bull. So you make them think that you’re hooking them up with the extra energy drink for free even though they paid for it and you’re going to give it to them either way. Another way is to make it look like you’ve added a topper when it’s actually an ingredient but you poured it on top while winking or saying ‘oops’ (Note, I’m not charging them for something they aren’t getting, I’m just making the drink minus one liquor, then adding that liquor to the top in front of them while winking or saying oops as I poor, they got all of the ingredients of the drink but it seems like you hooked them up with extra liquor on top)” (Source).
Beware Of Moving In On The Bartender’s “Girl.”
“VISINE! I was never a bartender, but I have known a few. This is a trick used by male bartenders. Let’s say the bartender is interested in one of his female customers, but a male customer seems to be moving in on the target female. The bartender puts a couple of drops of Visine in the male customer’s drink; the male customer spends the rest of the night on the toilet. Obviously, any bartender doing this should spend a lot of time in jail, but what should happen rarely does happen” (Source).
What Not To Order When It’s Busy.
“You will be secretly hated if you order any of the following while the bar is busy:
1) Hot Tea: Just don’t. It costs $3 and takes two or three valuable minutes to prepare.
2) Blue cheese stuffed olives for your dirty martini: I get it, they’re delicious. But unless it’s a place that you know keeps them on hand, you better tip BIG up front if you want to stay off the bartender’s s–t list. These are also gross to prepare.
3) An Old-Fashioned: Your bartender wants to make quality drinks for you, but during busy hours you’ll need to order faster drinks. Plus, whisky is sweet enough already before putting sugar, orange, and cherry in it” (Source).
This Is Disgusting.
“In my youth, I worked at a nightclub for a couple of years. Some of the elder bartenders used to make a lot of money for the tip jar. One of the methods was made on beer (this is disgusting): when a guest left an unfinished draft beer, it got poured in a new glass, till it was half, or more, full. When you hit the glass on the side with a spoon, it will foam, like a freshly poured beer, then fill it up with cold beer from the tap. Voila. Of course only served to those guests that were already ‘tanked up.’ They never knew” (Source).
Doctoring Your Drink.
“Top quality bars doctor their mixers and their liquors. What you see them pouring is not always what you think it is. That way you can’t duplicate the drink at home” (Source).
“It’s called ‘The Float.’ When you work a bar for a long enough time, you develop a knowledge of what to see when a person is really ‘done.’ By law, where I have worked as a bartender, it is illegal to serve someone who is visually intoxicated. The truth is it’s not always easy to see, especially with a person who holds their liquor well. The problem is that it is not always the easiest thing to enforce, and sometimes, it’s a political game (‘Whaddya mean you won’t serve me.. don’t you know I know the owner… get you fired.. blah blah..’).
To stall a person who is over limit without having to cut them off, with mixed drinks, you pour the cocktail mixers as normal, but for the alcohol, you ‘float’ a splash of liquor on the top of the cocktail. The drink then smells like booze, which is probably the most important element in making a drunk think they are still drinking, but the actual alcohol content is minimal.
You can use this technique to short pour a customer and theoretically increase bar profitability. It’s the same sort of thing when you cut gin or other nose-heavy liquors with water to decrease production costs. But I never did that nor worked for any place that encouraged it” (Source).
Avoid Red Bull Vodkas, You’re Getting Gypped.
“Its been a while – but this dirty secret is how they used to make a lot of extra tipping money at a bar. It’s quite simple and it works like this. Each time someone orders a mix drink like a Red Bull with vodka do this:
1) Grab a glass.
2) Fill it up with ice.
3) Add the vodka.
4) Add some Red Bull (only half the RB can is needed to fill it up).
On the cash register you add the costs of the vodka and Red Bull, but the next time someone orders a drink like this you do not add the costs of the Red Bull – since you have half a can left. The customer does however pay for the full drink and the extra money (cash for the Red Bull) can be put in the tip jar. Now so long as the customer doesn’t ask for a receipt and your boss doesn’t notice this will work like charm” (Source).
“Standing behind a bar can do wonders for your sex life. I went from being an average Joe to feeling as if I looked like George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s son. If a customer approaches a woman in a bar and asks her what she wants to drink it can be creepy: it’s obvious what he wants. If the barman asks her it’s because it’s his job. You’ve started the conversation and the ball is rolling” (Source).
Some Important Stuff To Keep In Mind.
“I bartended at a luxury resort for several years in my early 20s, I have a few:
1) Some bartenders will eat your leftovers if they missed a chance to eat, especially if they know/like you and you left an obviously untouched diver scallop on your plate. Starving children in Africa, right? I did this the first year or so in the bar until I contracted a strange rash covering my entire body that itched for days and caused me to overdose on Benadryl. Lesson learned. (Note: You can’t technically overdose on Benadryl but if you take too much you will find it causes HORRIFYING hallucinations. It’s real – look it up.)
2) The bartender is paying attention. Swingers, cheaters, tax evaders, and corrupt politicians’ actions are stored in the hard drive for future use if you ever give the bartender a hard time. I seriously considered anonymously reporting one racist asshole to the IRS but never did.
3) Don’t eat the bar snacks unless you’re 100% sure they were just put out. People are nasty and don’t wash their hands. Golfers especially. Their left hand has been in a sweaty, unwashed glove all day. Think about it.
5) Ideally, you want to mix the perfect amount of cocktail, but sometimes there will be scraps, especially when mixing shooters. If you’re paying attention when it’s time to dump the excess cocktail and if you’ve been a pleasant customer, a simple ‘What are you going to do with that?’ will likely earn you a free half drink.
6) If you’re going to be staying at a place for a few days and know the bar will be busy, come to the bar early before it gets busy and leave a generous tip with a reminder that you’ll be back later. You’ll skip to near the front of the queue when it matters if you do this.
7) Learn the bartender’s name, shake their hand, and treat them with respect. Not only is it a nice thing to do, but it will benefit you every time you’re served.
8) TIP THE KITCHEN!!! We had several guests that would tip the kitchen staff or buy them a round of beers and they were always taken care of. There’s a kitchen queue too and a server will always remind them that the table that bought them a round is there” (Source).
Using Your Money To Get Free Drinks.
“I used to work in a bar that sold a lot of bottled drinks and there were a lot of fruity ciders and malt cooler drinks so they were often served in a branded glass with ice. Each glass needed a specific amount of ice to allow the drink to fill to the top and empty the bottle.
The dirty little trick was to slightly overfill on ice, and pour at a steep angle to froth up the fizziness of the drink. Both of these combined left a fair amount in the bottle which we’d stand next just on view by the till. If they wanted, they could have asked for the remainder but everyone knew that would make them look tight with money so most would sacrifice it to appear respectable.
Since every order had at least two of these bottles and there was always someone being served, it meant you could sip a drink nonstop all night and never have to buy one. The staff would even trade their leftovers with each other so they didn’t have to keep drinking different flavours” (Source).
Drumming Up Business.
“I worked very briefly for an event catering group in San Francisco mainly working with the LGBTQ community. Even though I’m straight, I had more fun working with them for 2 months than I did anywhere else as a bartender. I was taught this trick while I was in training.
I had learned in a previous gig that people borrowing the salt shaker was the most annoying thing in the world because you would almost never get it back. The guy training me taught be a trick to avoid this when people are ordering Coronas and similar beers.
Before opening the beer, lime up the neck of the bottle and give it a good salt coating. This is pretty common of an idea, but the trick he told me to do is to give the first one on the house to the hottest guy at the bar. Then go to the other end as he’s licking the neck of the bottle and say to some other patrons, ‘Damn, look at that, you should order him another drink.’ And then repeat that ever couple hours. This brought in quite a bit of extra sales. Also works with blowjob/slippery nipple shots” (Source).
Can Spot You A Mile Away.
“The person who comes in, even subconsciously, hoping to get something for free, can be spotted by a good bartender almost before they sit down. I don’t care if it’s your birthday, or your graduation, or your 3rd time in that week. Be stoked you got charged for everything and tip well. You will be respected. You might even get something from the bartender for it, but don’t let this be your motivation. Laws of Karma do not work this way” (Source).
How To Deal With Bad Tippers.
“Bartenders have great memories. We remember the good tippers and the really bad ones. For bad tippers, there is the concept of ‘short pouring.’ If I remember you as a bad tipper, the next time you order your Bourbon and coke, I will pour little or no bourbon in the glass and fill it with coke. Then I will pour a little bourbon in the straw. I will let you know that I poured you a ‘special drink.’ Your first sip will be straight bourbon and I will get an approved thumbs up and the rest is all coke. You will leave me a bad/no tip and I will continue giving you coke instead of bourbon and coke” (Source).
The Truth About Vermouth.
“Vermouth is a PERISHABLE grape based product, and it only gets used sparingly. This means it sits on a shelf, typically above room temperature because of the lights it’s next to or the refrigerator that’s blowing warm air on it.
It probably has a pour spout on it for easier pouring of the 1/8 oz they are ignorantly portioning out. So now it’s a heavily oxidized perishable product that is heated and has fruit fly’s floating in it because they love that s–t.
Find a bar that has its vermouth’s in a refrigerator, and if they do, then they probably have some awesome vermouth’s you’ve never had before” (Source).
When The Bar Fights Actually Happen.
“One thing I learned working behind a bar that most people would not guess is that you’re much more likely to have problems with violent or unruly customers on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon than on a Friday or Saturday night.
During the day, most people are at work. Many of those who are not at work or are unemployable spend their days drinking — and excessive drink often leads to trouble, especially if you are a person with an anti-social bent. … Most people out for a good time in a crowded pub or bar on a Friday or Saturday night are there to forget about the workweek, relax and unwind with a few drinks” (Source).
About Mixing Your Liquors…
“Mixing liquors does change the type of buzz you get.
We probably all know this, and it is true: Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Brandy, or Rye mixed with crazy liqueurs mixed with juices and acids and sugars totally makes for a frenetic drunk and an earlier black out when too much is consumed.
Each body comes from a different gene pool that has been doing its thing for 1000’s of years, so some spirits work better with some bodies than others (Or you’re genes are used to being pickled and you can mix anything you like).
Try this: drink one type of spirit, (one brand if you can) all night one night and feel out how your body likes it, or what kind of buzz it’s giving you. I’ll tell you right now a tequila buzz is a lot different than a whiskey, and wine is totally different than beer.
Not all gins are created equal, and rum is… Well, you’ll see” (Source).