From Garnish Grabs to Disrespecting the Craft – 10 Greatest Bartender Pet Peeves in DTLA

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DTLA’s bar scene is an electric hub, alright! With some of the hardest-working servers in the hospitality business, downtown’s talented mix of bartenders and mixologists has lent DT Weekly some courtesy guidelines to help keep the good times rolling.

Here’s a list of the 10 Greatest Bartender Pet Peeves in Downtown Los Angeles.

Ten. “Make it Strong.” Vs. “Make it a Double”

Ordering a stronger drink is like asking the bartender to whip up a double burger after paying for a single. While it’s possible to find a generous bartender, sure, it’s a gamble, so it’s best to just prepare to pay. Get a double shot from the start, request an extra shot on the side, or request a spirit-heavy cocktail from the jump. This option guarantees extra strength, while the bar gets paid for the extra liquor. 

Nine. Splitting Too Many Checks!

Closing out and paying for rounds individually. Let’s not rain on the bartender’s parade with multiple transactions! Instead of making them juggle several payments, why not consolidate when possible? Not only does it save precious time for the bartender, but it also keeps the drinks flowing smoothly for everyone. It’s a win-win situation for both the hardworking bartenders and thirsty patrons!

Eight. Lack of Respect for the Craft

Bartending isn’t just pouring liquids; it’s a symphony of flavor alchemy, where sweet, sour, bitter, and more play together. Overly critiquing or questioning the bartender’s cocktail-making techniques or choice of ingredients is a surefire way to get in a showdown with the town’s best drink slingers. Most have long mastered the techniques to coax out perfect textures and aromas with deep knowledge of the vast world of spirits and how they dance with each other. It’s even the art of presentation—choosing the right glass and garnish to complete the experience. Chances are, if they’ve survived more than a few weekend shifts in a downtown establishment, they’re most likely highly skilled experts forged by experience at what they do. If at any time a drink isn’t your jam, a simple “this isn’t what I expected” shows respect for the bartender’s artistry rather than implying the bartender intentionally foiled a beverage. 

Seven. Snapping or whistling, or waving money around to get the bartender’s attention

As human beings, it feels like a natural instinct to detest anyone resorting to animalistic behavior to get what they want. So why is it that some guests find it acceptable to snap or whistle at a bar? It not only reflects poorly on the patron’s manners but also disregards the bartender’s professionalism and dignity. In other words, this classic saying should be a bar patron ritual: “treat others the way we want to be treated.”

Six. Ripping Up the Coasters.

As bar patrons, we’re there to relax and blow off steam, and it’s easy to daze off into space, only to look down and realize that, out of nervousness, one has unwittingly created a paper puzzle out of their coaster. Unfortunately for the bartender, it’s a puzzle that cannot be put back together. It’s important to remember that bartending is hard work, respect the bar’s property, and keep things tidy. 

Five. Babysitting Customers

Bartenders aren’t babysitters for grown-ups fueled by tequila. Nor are they trained ninjas fast enough to intercept flailing limbs and spilled drinks. Overly intoxicated patrons could potentially cause trouble for themselves and others, distracting the bartenders with loud arguments and belligerent behaviors that kill the fun for everyone. Plus, overly intoxicated customers are usually bad tippers. Remember to keep it cool, and everyone wins a safe, fun night for all.

Four. The Dreaded Card Decline

They call it the dreaded card decline. As a bartender, navigating this awkward situation requires a delicate mix of empathy, discretion, and a friendly demeanor that could at the very least take up precious time or, at worst, have to request they hold and ID or even call the law.

Remember, the goal is to maintain a positive atmosphere for everyone. So think ahead by checking the old account balance to avoid an embarrassing situation for all involved. 

Three. Being Overly Flirtatious

Yes, downtown bartenders are hot, and they know it, especially after a few shots and having the ability to make everyone feel special, but avoid disrupting service or making others uncomfortable by being overly flirtatious. Respect their role as equals. Although they may show an added charm that works to rack up the tips, they’re there for drinks, not flirting. Skip nicknames like “cutie” and “stud muffin.” Overdoing it can kill the vibe, especially for those with partners. Be friendly, focus on enjoying the night, and compliments are always welcome, but know that being respectful and professional is the key! 

Two. “The Surprise Me.”

As a bar patron, seemingly harmless actions like being indecisive can test a bartender’s patience. Although being spontaneous is definitely one of life’s perks, asking the bartender to whip up a tasty surprise ranks high on the list of bartender pet peeves.

Bartenders are skilled professionals, not mind readers or cocktail sluths. While some patrons might receive a pleasant surprise, it’s definitely a gamble and time-consuming, as a series of questions usually follow. Try asking for a cocktail menu and picking the choice with the favored spirit to keep out the guesswork.

One. Reaching into the Garnish Tray

Think of it like grabbing a handful of fries from the next table at a restaurant. It’s a subtle thing, but it suggests a disregard for boundaries, and, well, it breeds germs. 

Think about it. Reaching across the bar to snag an olive or a lime might seem like a harmless act or a quick way to satisfy a growling tummy. But why drink on an empty stomach, and why would other bar patrons want to pay for a drink where countless hands have touched those olives, cherries, and lime wedges? 

Beyond hygiene, reaching into the garnish tray disregards the bartender’s role as the architect of your drink and the guardian of a clean environment. The tray isn’t a free-for-all; it’s an extension of their workspace. Plus, it makes the reaching patron look sneaky. 

Remember, bartenders are the heavenly gatekeepers to happiness. Just “ask, and you shall receive.”

Author: Alex Livingston

Hi I'm Alex Livingston a singer/songwriter in a band for 10 years so it's no surprise I love creative writing and Im excited to be exploring this passion further through journalism. I'm big on watching movies especially horror films and every time I go somewhere new I'm mainly thinking about what kind of food will be there ;)