Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bartender Insider: The Customer Is Not Always Right

The scene: A packed patio bar on a Saturday night. I'm working alongside my bar manager who also doubles as a bartender and we're, for lack of a better term, getting our asses handed to us (some people call it "in the weeds"). We try our hardest to handle the throng of people swamping the bar, deal with an unruly POS system that only cooperates when our hands are completely dry, and keep our service bar updated for the waitstaff. While I wouldn't say tensions are high, we certainly aren't the two happy go-lucky bartenders that we usually are 95 percent of the time.

At one point I pour a mojito for a youngish, Latin American man. This is possibly the 200th mojito I've poured in that evening alone, with nary a complaint. The guy takes a sip of his mojito and shoves it back at me, complaining that "he can't taste the liquor and he wants more rum in it!" Politely as possible I tell him that you aren't supposed to be able to taste a lot of rum in a mojito and just as he begins to complain some more, my bar manager (who by the way, is a girl who is about a half my size) immediately interjects with, " NO! NO! If you want more booze than you can buy an extra shot! It's a mixed drink, you're not supposed to be overwhelmed by the liquor! This is how our Mojitos are made!!!!" The entire bar and the waitstaff are slightly taken a back as they watch this grown man get reamed by the bartender.

The guy then looks at me like a sad puppy dog who just got scolded, and stifling a smile, I shrug and say, "she's my manager dude, so I play by her rules." Then I can hardly control a laugh as I continue taking orders down the line of customers.

The lesson here: When a bar is completely slammed, it's usually better to keep stupid inquiries to yourself, or wait until a bartender has a minute to voice your concerns (in a polite way). When it's crowded, I, like almost every bartender I know, will never mind losing a few bucks and possibly repeat business for the simple reason that we have plenty of other customers to attend to at that moment and plenty of other tips to collect. I'll reiterate though, when a customer politely asks me for something or voices their concern over something, I'll do whatever they need without hesitation and with a smile on my face.... Just don't be a dick.


Robot Boy said...

Bar etiquette - I tend to follow it but sometimes after that 5th shot, the niceties flap away.

Buy my ticket and I'll be your bodyguard as you, uhn...prey upon helpless drunk women.

Easy Sleazin' said...

I used to love telling unruly customers to go fuck themselves when I was still slangin' dranks.