For a culture more or less addicted to the idea of going out and ‘socialising’ (read: getting absolutely wankered in the company of others) pulling beers for cash can feel like leisure over labour. Or, depending on the customer, it can destroy your tiny soul. Manners might not cost a thing, but there is a science to antagonising bar staff and being an all-round chode from the moment you enter the premises to the moment you’re forcefully removed.
Let me teach it to you.
Typically, the best way to start any interaction with hospitality staff is by telling them to “Smile—it’s not that bad”. By publically addressing their miserable disposition and offering some sagacious perspective on the situation, you will almost certainly lift their spirits and increase their mood. Disregard the fact that you know next to nothing about their personal circumstances: when you have a job as fun and easy as working behind a bar, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be constantly showing your teeth.
When ordering your drink, go for something specific yet obscure. This will impress upon the bartender your diverse and cultured knowledge of all things liquor. For added effect, ask for a wine that isn’t on the wine list. If the answer is ‘no’, click your tongue and make your disappointment at their limited selection known.
Now, ask to try a few different wines, ensuring that you make a point of sniffing, swishing and commenting on each of them. Don’t be put off by the fact that you can’t actually distinguish your Pinots from your Fruity Lexias: you’re protected by the watertight rule that the customer is always right. After you’ve had several full glasses worth of free ‘samples’, neglect to buy any of them. Order a Peroni, complain about the price, and pay with loose change. At this stage, no one’s earned a ‘thank you’.
Whilst you sit and sip at your beer, why not tear up a coaster or two? It looks like confetti; it’s real pretty—but alas, all this time spent making a mess and your beer’s gone flat. Worry not: it was probably poured that way. Go and get it repoured. If the bartender happens to overdo it and give the beer a little too much head, don’t pass up the opportunity to say something hilarious like “I ordered a pint, not a middie” or “Can I get some beer with that head?” Trust me, it will not go unappreciated—this is a joke that almost always gets a chuckle.
By now the bartender should be chomping at the bit to serve you. If not, simply reclaim their attention with a sharp whistle or a bit of insistent clicking, much in the way you might summon a horse.
Now, to make things easier for them, order your round of ten drinks individually, waiting for them to finish one before asking for the next. They’ll relish the change of pace and be grateful for your nonchalant patience, particularly when the bar is jammed wall-to-wall with screaming, highly irritable punters.
Should the bartender happen to drop and break a glass at any point throughout the night, be sure to yell ‘TAXI!’ loud enough for everybody to hear. This will more than likely be received with hearty laughter and rapturous applause. The joke, you see, is that they dropped a glass like a drunkard might and so probably need someone to call them a taxi home. Because they dropped a glass. And you’re in a bar. Get it?
Presumably, the company you keep will be sure to do the same every time you drop a glass or three. After all, by this stage you’ve had a mouthful of every wine on the menu, two Peronis and ten individually made cocktails. You’re starting to feel it, and you’re probably starting to show it. But that doesn’t explain why the bartender that you’ve been so good to all night is advising you not to have anymore.
Defend yourself: backing down and accepting a glass of water only raises contempt in the hearts of staff. Tell them you’ve hardly had anything, even though they’ve been serving you all night and may catch a whiff of bullshit. And if neither they nor the security guard can be reasoned with, pull out the ace of spades by telling them that you know the owner and you’re going to have them both sacked.
Right now you’re probably thinking: “but I don’t know the owner, not even a little bit”. Worry not. A hot tip: the licensee’s name legally has to be advertised above the door of every bar. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never met Justin Hermes or whatever his name is—remember, the customer is always right.
If all else fails, let them know you’ll never give them business again, leave in the knowledge that you just ruined their night, and go punch a stranger. You fucking arsehole.
Words by Gavin Butler. Photo by Thrillist.