Flirting with the Bartender


As a bartender you are the center of attention, you are what stands between a person and what they want. You are the person to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, even someone to yell at, and if you’re half decent at your job you wear a smile on your face while playing each role.  It is said that being behind a bar makes someone two points higher on a ten point scale of attractiveness. And whether people are flirting with you because they genuinely interested or there is something they want from you, it happens…. a lot. Here is some standard do’s and don’ts of flirting with the bartender.

What to Do (male bartenders):

  • Have the waiter or waitress give your number – Handing your number directly to the bartender often goes unrealized. We are busy people and your number might get lost.
  • Play hard to get – People flirt with us all the time, women and men. This advice is essentially dating advice but even more true for bartenders because they have more options.
  • Be interesting – This goes along with the last one, You need to stand out because we are talking with interesting people all day long. and In New York there is no shortage of beautiful women, so good looks alone seldom does the trick.

What Not to Do (male bartenders):

  • Don’t be obvious – Nothing turns off a bartender more than when you make it obvious you are interested. Again, this borders on simple dating advice, but the reason this is especially important for bartenders is the other customers are less likely to tip.
  • Don’t get jealous – We flirt like it’s our job, that is how we earn more money. If you are the jealous type, you might want to find a nice 9 to 5er.

What to Do (female bartenders):

  • Be funny – Sorry if you’re not an inherently gifted humorist but humor goes a long way in making a bartender’s day go by quickly. Make them laugh.
  • Play hard to get – Keep them interested, keep them wanting more. (see above)

What Not to Do (female bartenders):

  • Don’t get too drunk – This one is almost too obvious. Bartenders are generally not drunk on the job. You seem foolish.
  • Don’t be desperate – Simple dating advice but when female bartenders are the only females talking to you, you probably seem desperate.
  • Don’t assume – Female bartenders flirt, it does not mean they’re interested!

Tipping Etiquette…for Bartenders

maurice amon tipping tips for bartendersBartenders think about tips a lot.  And we should – it’s how we get paid, and it’s inherently emotional.  When someone stiffs us, it sucks.  When someone tips 100%, it can make our night.  Career bartenders are good at letting the bad tips slide off our back, but we still take notice.

And bartenders have a lot of opinions about how tips should work.  From the percentage customers ought to tip based on the number of drinks, the size of the check, the duration of time spent at the bar, or the level of interaction they had with the bartender – there’s a lot of opinions out there.  And there are THOUSANDS of articles online instructing customers on how to tip.

What gets lost in the shuffle is tipping etiquette for bartenders.  Here are just a few thoughts I’ve had while working in bars for the past fifteen or so years…


 – 1 –  Don’t Talk About Tipping

Customers sitting at the bar, enjoying their drinks, don’t want to think about your salary.  Whether you’re commenting to another bartender or directly to the customer, discussing your tips in earshot of the customer is ugly.  Even that regular who truly cares about your well-being and always tips 30% probably doesn’t want to hear you complain about a low tip from another guest.  People are there to enjoy themselves, and your job is to facilitate that.


 – 2 –  Take Care of Your Staff

The only people making money in many restaurants and bars are the bar and floor staff.  When you have that amazing night, the night where you make $200 more than usual, this is an opportunity to thank your supporting staff for the help they offer you every night.  Make sure that your barback gets a little more than their regular cut.  The dishwasher who doesn’t usually get tipped out but helps out by removing bus tubs and delivering glasses promptly?  Throw him $50 and say thanks.  This shows your support staff that you care, and helps to build morale.


 – 3 –  Give Change

If someone orders an $8 drink and gives you a $10, put change on the bar.  They may want to tip you $2, and for that you can give the head nod of gratitude.  But some people want to tip $1.  Assuming the customer’s tip can put a bad taste in their mouth, even if they were going to tip you $2 anyway.  In today’s world of intense competition, that could be enough to convince a customer not to come back to your bar.