10 hacks for getting served at a busy bar


By Jospeh Fletcher

Getting a drink in a bar can be a frustrating experience. You stand politely at the back of a wall of people, who all seem (suddenly) a foot taller than you, and edge your way to the front.

Even if you manage this without elbows, you're left wondering what to do once there. You attempt to catch the bartender's eye and smile sweetly, while your breathing is being steadily constricted by the crowd closing in behind you. You want to be served and get out of there asap.

So why not try clicking your fingers? Tapping on the bar? Waving your money around? Why not, even, extend your arms outwards in front of you like some kind of drunken Kate Winslet (aka Titanic)?

The trick to getting served is a lot simpler than you'd think, and you probably don't have to test the limits of human decency to do it. We spoke to David Eden-Sangwell, owner of BartenderHQ - a resource for bartenders who want to move up to the craft cocktail scene - for some tips on getting a round in at peak times.

1. Firstly, don't wave your money around. According to Eden-Sangwell, there's "nothing more irritating" than people who do this.

2. And, simple as it may seem, be friendly. It IS important to smile and make eye contact.

3. Stay still. You might need to work to claim your position at the front, but once there, don't stray from it. Bartenders may well be covering one particular section of the bar, and if you move to try and get their attention, you could be disappearing from the view of the one person who was going to serve you next, and to the end of the queue of a different bartender covering another section.

4. Know what you want to order. A big no-no is forgetting, or not knowing, what drinks your mates are having - then having to go back and ask them while the bartender waits. They may be reluctant to serve you again after this.

5. Order all your drinks at once. A bartender will be able to arrange your order in their head, so they know what to pour and when. If you want a Guinness, for example, they'll know to pour that first, and can sort things so they don't need to make multiple trips to the fridge.

6. If you HAVE to order in stages, try and put the more time-consuming drinks first. A frozen daiquiri can be buzzing away in a blender while the rest of your drinks are being poured.

7. But if the bar is busy, try and avoid ordering more complex drinks. This isn't such a big issue, but it's still probably best to steer clear of things like mojitos at peak times.

8. If you want to get the bartender on side, order bottled instead of draft beers

Firstly, they're a lot quicker to serve, and then have the added benefit that you can carry more back to your mates.

9. Give tips. Due to the rise of contactless card payments, the amount of tips being given has fallen in recent years. However, if you do have cash ready to tip, it's going to make you stand-out to the bartender.

10. Ultimate hack: Build a friendship with a bartender (and tip). According to Eden-Sangwell, the best advice for getting served quickly is going to a bar regularly and building up a rapport with a bartender. If you get into the habit of tipping them as well, they'll remember you each time you come in.

Catherine Devane