This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Many Utahns plan to ring in the new year on Saturday, Dec. 31, with a cocktail. The bars and clubs are sure to be crowded, and getting a drink could take a while. So we asked some local mixologists who tirelessly mix, stir and pour their all-time biggest customer pet peeves. Avoid these annoying ordering tactics, they say, and you'll get that second round faster and keep the bartender happy. It's called a win-win.
Don't be a rattlesnake • The last slurp at the bottom of your drink is gone and you're ready for another. If you start rattling the glass to get someone's attention, it's called the rattlesnake and it's annoying. James Haskell, a bartender for Junior's Tavern, said rattling, slamming or banging at the bar is about the worst way to get the bartender's attention. "People want the attention when they walk into a bar," Haskell said. "That's what I think they're trying to accomplish."
Skip the complex drinks • Imagine a packed bar. Everyone wants a drink. Perhaps there's even a rattlesnake banging his glass at the end of the bar. Whatever you do, don't order something time-consuming or obscure like a Voodoo Priestess or a Yellow Parrot. In fact, ordering any overly complex drink when there's a line of people behind you is the fastest way to get the bartender to curse you. Think ahead. If it's a layered drink, blended or has more than six ingredients, skip it. Order it another day when the bar is not as crowded.
"If I'm not busy and they want me to make something crazy, fine. I'm all about it," said Evan Nelson of O'Shucks. "But if I'm really busy and the whole bar has to wait because you want some specialty frou-frou cocktail, realize that the whole bar is waiting on you."
Stop nickel-and-diming • Friends have just assigned you to order the next round for the group. First, you order two beers for Mike and Kelly. Once the bartender has fetched those, you order Michelle's martini. Once that's in hand, you ask for a vodka and Sprite. And so on. You've just nickel-and-dimed the bartender.
This technique would never fly at McDonald's, but for some reason, people like to spread out an order with the assumption that the bartender has amnesia.
"If it's a busy night, the bartender is busy," said Kris Lite from The Green Pig. "Help speed up the process."
Be more specific • So a guy walks into a bar and says "Can I have a beer?" It sounds like a legitimate order a quick one, too. Here's the catch: Most bars carry a variety of beers. Generically ordering "a beer" is the same as going into a pizza joint and ordering "a pizza." It sounds ridiculous to the guy behind the counter, and you will immediately be asked what kind of beer you want. Even at the Beerhive, a Salt Lake City bar known for its wide beer selection, bartender Aubrey Langwith hears the lame request. "We have hundreds," Langwith said she tells customers. "What kind of beer did you mean?"
Avoid the blame game • If you drink in Utah, chances are you've complained, and quite vocally, about the state's liquor laws. Even as the state drops the private-club concept, drink specials are outlawed. "It's always something," you say to friends from California who just don't get it. As weird as Utah laws might seem, bars and clubs are required to follow them or risk fines.
Don't force the bartender into an argument because you think pouring a double is no big deal. State law doesn't allow it. Servers cannot give you five drinks at a time when it's clearly just you doing the drinking. And they definitely cannot give you a free drink because you promise to tip well.
"Stop being mad at us because we can't serve what you want because of the liquor laws," Nelson from O'Shucks said.
Give good tips • So now we know what not to do; what should we do to get really great service? Mixologists say there's just one word to remember: tip. For that first drink, pay in cash, leave a tip and it's a guarantee that the bartender keeps it coming back.
5 more pet peeves
Using a smart-phone cocktails app to try to stump the bartender.
Ordering by color, as in "Can I get a blue drink?"
Insisting the bartender wait while you decide what to order.
Refusing to open a tab even though you've just used your card to pay for the last three drinks.
Waving money to get a bartender's attention.