Codes To Drink By (And Other Rules Of Etiquette)

We really shouldn’t have to say it, but with less than a week until Christmas, it seems a reminder about bar etiquette wouldn’t go astray

By: Tiff Christie|December 20,2022

We get it. It’s been a long year, and all you want to do is go out with your friends and let a ton of alcohol wash all the stress, anxiety, fear and frustration out of your soul.

But you need to keep in mind that it’s been a long year behind the bar as well.

Bars have had to deal with lockdowns, staff shortages, stock shortages, rent increases … and now it seems they need to deal with you

Most people, when they go to a bar, are great – they are polite, they are civil, and they know how to behave in polite society, but there are a few (especially at this time of year) that act like they were brought up in a barn.

So, as much as we think it’s insane that we need to do it, here is a reminder of how to behave …


1. Lockdown did not make you a Drink Master …

If you spent lockdown mucking around in your liquor cabinet, then good for you and all power to you. But experimenting a little while you were at home doesn’t mean you know more about cocktails than a bartender who makes drinks for 8+ hours, five+ nights a week, every week …

2. Larceny is not on the menu

Honest to god, people, stop stealing shit. Be a grown-up and leave the moose head/ artwork/ table lamps etc, alone. This goes for stealing the glassware and bar tools as well (in other words, don’t be the reason that bars can’t have nice things …)

3. The bar is not a dating app

Sure, the bartender/ server/ bar back is being really nice to you and maybe even flirting a bit, but they are paid to be nice to you. I’m not saying that the occasional hookup doesn’t happen, but it’s probably safer to assume that the flirting is just that … flirting = tips

4. Tips are not about giving advice

And speaking of tips … in very few countries in the world are bartenders paid a living wage – tips are what allows them to … you know … buy food. Always tip at least 20% (even if the service is average), and if the service has been amazing, then go to town on that percentage figure.

5. You ain’t Muhammed Ali

If you want to fight, go to a gym and take a boxing class, don’t bring it to a bar … enough said …

6. Yes, no still means no

Whether you are asking to buy another guest a drink, asking for a dance or perhaps asking for something more, don’t be creepy about it. If they say no, be gracious and walk away. Harassing them or giving them unwanted attention isn’t going to change their mind … *

7. Know your limits

If you’ve ever had a drink before, you should know how much you can drink before it all gets a bit too messy. Know the amount and do not go beyond it. Don’t force your friends or the bar staff to ‘parent’ you. It’s embarrassing for you, and it’s just annoying for everyone else.

8. There’s nowhere like home …

Once the lights come up, it really is time to go home. 99% of the time, bartenders don’t want to do a lock-in with you because they still need to clean up, cash up and do stocktake … and they can’t really start that until you leave.

9. Just don’t be a dick

If you are of legal drinking age, then you’ve been out in the world a while, and you know how it works. You know right from wrong and good from the bad. So, be courteous, be polite and don’t be a dick … there’s really no other way to say it …

* If a fellow guest is being a bit too creepy or you get a weird feeling about a date you are on, the bar staff are there to help. In a lot of countries asking for an “Angel’s Shot” will alert the bar staff if there is a problem.

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Codes To Drink By (And Other Rules Of Etiquette)

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