The 21 Rules of Bar Etiquette

John LeFevre
Aug 27, 2018 · 3 min read

You can be dumb. You can be rude. You can be incompetent. I don’t really care, as long as it doesn’t impact me.

But if you are any of those things in a bar and it interferes with my ability to drink, we’re gonna have a problem.

— - — — — — We’re now on Instagram. Follow here. — — — — —

Read this, absorb it, and the next time you’re out in a bar, by all means, imbibe… but, abide by these simple rules for bar etiquette, and a few tips for your drinking pleasure:

  1. Be a regular at more than one bar. It’s a good hedge, if like me, you’ve been banned from a few.
  2. Be patient. There’s no line to get drinks in your refrigerator.
  3. Always tip more than you should. Tipping at a regular spot is also a good investment.
  4. Never ask for a ‘good pour.’ That’s asking for something for free, and bartenders can get fired for that. If they like you, they’ll hook you up.
  5. Don’t ask to transfer a tab to dinner table. Settle up.
  6. If you’re having more than one drink, throw a card behind the bar. You can always settle the tab in cash at the end of the night.
  7. Don’t get drunk on beer when you’re trying to pick up girls. When you’re in the bathroom every fifteen minutes, she’s checking out your competition.
  8. Never take off your suit jacket. Nobody ever pictures a drunk in a suit and tie. Remove the jacket; destroy the illusion.
  9. Don’t treat a bartender like he’s just some guy waiting until he finds a real job. The bartender at the St. Regis has a Range Rover and a beach house.
  10. Drink where your wallet is comfortable. When it doesn’t matter how much the drinks cost, it’s always Happy Hour.
  11. Don’t whistle, snap, yell, or wave money, unless you want people to think you work at Morgan Stanley.
  12. If you want to buy a woman a drink, ask her permission. If the bartender has to say, “This is from the guy who didn’t have the balls to approach you,” you’ve got no chance.
  13. If you are having friends meet you out, clear your tab before they show up. It’s not cool if they end up paying, but more important, it’ll make you look like the drunk that you really are.
  14. Do what you want to do, not what people expect you to do. If you want to put ice in your Pinot Grigio, go for it.
  15. Don’t try ordering a drink from a bar back. But go ahead and throw him a fiver; he’s taking the bus home at 2am.
  16. Don’t argue about a tab. If you’re arguing, it’s probably because it’s over a material amount of money. And that means you’re probably not sober enough to argue.
  17. “When in Rome…” is the Golden Rule. Unless you’re on the beach, skip the piña coladas, or anything else that takes the bartender five minutes to make on a busy night.
  18. Don’t preemptively mention the tip. There’s no need to ever say, “I’ll take care of you tonight, ______.” (Insert: Pal, Chief, Bubba, Hon).
  19. Shots generally only serve one purpose, to speed up the effects of alcohol. There’s a time and a place, and that time and place comes around less frequently after the age of 30.
  20. Always know what you are going to order ahead of time. Have a go-to drink in your repertoire. An old fashioned, vodka martini, a Budweiser, or even just a house chard. Sit down, take a sip, relax, and then figure out what you really want to drink.
  21. You can get away with a lot more if you’re the one buying the drinks.

John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator, the founder of a fashion line that hates statement socks, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals, currently in development as a major motion picture.

John LeFevre

Written by

Signed contracts with Goldman Sachs and Simon & Schuster, and paid lawyers more than I made. Author of STRAIGHT TO HELL (not about @gselevator or Goldman Sachs)

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade