There are tricks to every trade, and unless you’re part of that trade, you probably don’t know them.
Bartending is no exception, but thanks to a Quora thread that asks “what are some dirty little secrets of bartending?,” you may not be as clueless next time you order a drink.
We took a look through the thread and gathered the most helpful information.
Keep scrolling to find out both tricks that bartenders use and tips that will make you a more savvy drinker.
When you ask for your drink to be topped off, you might not be getting as much alcohol as you think.
For customers who constantly want a stronger drink, Quora user Michael Glasser uses a simple trick. Glasser fills the straw with pure alcohol, so that when the customer takes a sip, they will immediately be convinced there’s significantly more alcohol in their drink (even if there’s not).
Be wary when ordering Red Bull vodkas.
According to Quora user Travis Loso, who has bartended across the US, mixed drinks made with Red Bull use only about half of a can. However, some bartenders sell the same can of Red Bull to two different customers, meaning that while the customer is being charged for a full can, they’re only receiving half of the can.
Loso says that while many bars have a button for Red Bull mixed drinks (which does not include the price of a full can), there are some bartenders who will ring up a Red Bull vodka as a shot of vodka and a can of Red Bull. In that case, you should be receiving the full can.
Your leftovers might become your bartender’s snack.
Quora user Stephen Mink, who bartended at a luxury resort for several years, concedes that some bartenders end up finishing customers’ leftovers if they know and like that customer and if they didn’t have a chance to eat during their shift.
If a bartender wants to cut you off, they might pour you a non-alcoholic beer.
Collette McIafferty, a Quora user who has been working in the service industry on and off for years, says before cutting off a customer who is getting too drunk, she’ll serve them a non-alcoholic beer and tell them it’s on the house. McIafferty will then say, “Hey do me a favour, after this beer have a glass of water, I don’t want you to get a hangover!”
She says by that time, most people will realise how drunk they are and leave, and it’s always better to have someone leave on their own volition instead of cutting them off and forcing them out.
If you’re very drunk and still ordering drinks, you’re probably not getting a lot of alcohol in your drink.
Quora user Michael Chan explains that there’s something called “the float” in bartending:
“To stall a person who is over limit without having to cut them off, with mixed drinks, you pour the cocktail mixers as normal, but for the alcohol, you ‘float’ a splash of liquor on the top of the cocktail. The drink then smells like booze, which is probably the most important element in making a drunk think they are still drinking, but the actual alcohol content is minimal.”
Keeping an eye on the bartender could earn you a free drink.
While bartenders try to mix just the right amount of alcohol for a cocktail, Mink says this doesn’t always work. If you’re paying attention — and have been a pleasant customer — asking what the bartender is planning on doing with those “scraps” could result in a free drink.
If you want a mixed drink, stick with house liquor instead of top shelf.
Quora user Sean Kelly points out that mixing top shelf liquors with juice, soda, or creams often ends up masking the taste of that liquor. So customers end up paying more for a liquor they’re not even going to taste or enjoy. Kelly instead recommends going with the house liquor when ordering a mixed drink; it’s cheaper, and chances are you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Don’t order time-intensive drinks when the bar is busy.
Hot tea, blue cheese stuffed olives, and old-fashioneds all take time to prepare, according to Mink. He advises against ordering these when the bar is busy, because the bartender is likely to be frustrated with you if you do.
Think twice before indulging in bar snacks.
Mink recommends not eating bar snacks unless you just watched the bartender put out a fresh batch. “People are nasty and don’t wash their hands. Golfers especially. Their left hand has been in a sweaty, unwashed glove all day.”
Fights at bars are more likely to happen during the week than on weekends.
Although it seems logical that bar fights are likely to erupt on the weekend when the bar is fuller rather than during the week, Quora user John Smith says that’s actually not the case. Smith says that one thing he came to realise while working as a bartender was that the people who come into a bar during the week are sometimes unemployed and hoping to drink their troubles away. Smith explains that this kind of excessive drinking is more likely to lead to bad behaviour than the kind of drinking people do on weekends with friends.
If you’re planning on coming back to a bar multiple days in a row, tip a large amount early on.
Let’s say you’re staying at a resort and you plan on hitting up the same bar every day you’re there. Mink suggests leaving a fairly generous tip on the first day before the bar gets busy, and make sure to let the bartender know you plan on coming back. Chances are you’ll be able to skip the line when you come back later and the bar is crowded.
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