The Secret to Getting Any Bartender’s Attention

“Maybe he doesn’t see us. Should we light something on fire?”

Stand there and be patient. That’s it, guys. That’s the secret.

Works every time, I promise. We see you there. No need to wave your arms, no need to shout ‘excuse me’ every time one of us passes, and if you snap your fingers at me, so help me God I have a ‘go out with guns blazing’ quitting fantasy with your name on it. “He snapped at me, and that’s the last thing I remember,” I’ll say from the back of a cop car.

With that said, a lot of you think you have a trick to getting our attention. “Watch this, this always works,” you might say to a friend as you approach the bar. The exact amount of time you would’ve had to wait for a drink later, you walk away, drinks in hand, certain that your clever method of hailing the bartender yielded you special attention.

It didn’t. We know your tricks.

I’m talking to you, #36: GIRL WHO ASKS THE BARTENDER WHAT THEY’RE MAKING. “Ohhhh, what is that?” you coo, as the bartender fills a highball with soda water. “Vodka Soda,” the bartender says begrudgingly, because he knows perfectly well what you’re trying to do. The minute he responds to you and acknowledges your presence, you’re gonna immediately be like “Can I have one of those? Actually, can I have two of those, and what do you want, Rebecca? Rebecca? Rebecca, get off your phone! Hold on, she’s texting her boyfriend. Okay, three vodka sodas, and what kind of beer do you have?”

I’ll admit, it’s clever in a way. It forces the bartender to either passive-aggressively ignore you, or engage with you and risk you dumping an order on him that he’s not ready for yet. But don’t kid yourself, he’s on to you. He knows that your feigned interest in what he’s making is just a Trojan Horse for your own invasion.

“Excuse me. Excuse me, can I order?”

You’re not fooling anyone either, #18: THE LEANER. I see you there. How can I not? You’re literally inches from my face. Do you want to tell me what you want or do you want to whisper it in my fucking ear? I get what you’re doing. You think that the closer you get your upper torso to me, the quicker you’ll get noticed. Well, guess what? I noticed you the minute you came up to the bar. Now, I notice that I also hate you. Why stop at leaning, though? Why not just lie on top of the bar? The bartender’s sure to notice that. Screw it, come on back. Get back here and make whatever you want, you’re already halfway there.

A relative to the Leaner is, #6: THE STAREDOWN ARTIST. Do you have mystical powers? Do you think that if you follow the bartender with your eyes — never blinking, lowering your head like a predator locked on to an unsuspecting prey, never looking away from her face as she frantically tries to help everyone that came before you — that you’ll somehow voodoo mind trick her into locking eyes with you and getting you next? Congratulations, you’re a creep! And it’s not going to work.

“See me. Seeeee meeeeeee.”

Finally, how can we forget #11: GUY WHO HOLDS HIS MONEY IN THE AIR? Well, I was making these drinks for these people, but — hey, is that a $20? Seriously, what do you expect to happen when you hold your money in the air at the bar? Do you think we’re bartenders or cats chasing a laser pointer? Good luck getting us to pay attention to what you’re saying, waving all that money around.

We assume that when you came up to the bar you understood that you are expected to pay for your drinks. There’s no need to choreograph it ahead of time. If you were trying to barter your way to a drink, that might make more sense. “Sorry sir, we don’t accept rare Norman Rockwell paintings as payment. Yes, we take discover.”

So, put your cash on the bar, thanks very much. Your bartender will pick it up with her cleavage when she’s ready.

Let’s quit with all the games, then, shall we? We’re wise to you. If you want a drink, all you gotta do is wait your turn.

That’s it.