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Top Five Tricks Bartenders Use

Kathleen Esposito

Think bartenders are superhuman and remember all the drink recipes known to man? Think again. A good bartender won't tell you he or she hasn't heard of a drink you're ordering. Instead, the bartender will tell you, "I know several ways to make this drink. Which is the one you prefer?" As any good bartender will assert, everything they do is all about the finesse. Here are five more tricks they use to keep the customers, the drinks and the tips flowing.

Top Five Tricks of the Bartending Trade

1. Giving Out Change in Ones

Every self respecting bartender gives out change in one dollar bills, even if the change comes out to exactly $10 or exactly $20. Five dollars in change will always be handed back to you as five ones, $10.00 will be a five dollar bill and five ones, and so on. This is a good way to ensure a tip. It's customary to leave one dollar per drink, but most patrons won't tip at all if they are forced to leave a five.

2. Chatting Up the Customers

Sure, a bartender may start talking to you because he or she likes you, but more likely the bartender wants to keep the conversation going in hopes of a tip increase. If he notices someone drinking alone, he will ask that person if everything's okay. He will also make sure to chat up any group of people celebrating a special occasion. The goal is to acknowledge anyone who looks like he or she needs a drink and create a pseudo personal relationship without prying too much. This keeps customers coming back. It also helps to remember people's names and their favorite drinks. A lot of bartenders, especially at less crowded bars, write this information down so they can pretend that they remember.

3. Stocking Smokes

A lot of people like to smoke when they drink. Whether you agree with smoking or not, having cigarettes handy keeps people at the bar. The savvy bartender will stock both Marlboro regulars and Marlboro lights behind the bar. That way patrons don't have to leave to get a light, and they will keep on ordering beverages. You can always ask a bartender for matches or a lighter, too. Of course, this doesn't apply in smoke-free bars.

4. Handing Over Freebies

You might think that the bartender is being super nice handing out free drinks, promotional coasters, pretzels or anything else that you might think you'd have to pay for, but you can be sure of two things. First, the boss knows exactly what's going on, even if the bartender says, "I'm not really supposed to do this. Don't tell anyone." Second, the bartender expects to make up the price of the items, which really isn't much, in the increase in drinks you order and in tips. Everybody's happy.

5. Flipping Bottles

If you really want to impress your patrons, learn how to flip to pour. To perform this trick, and look like a real pro, hold the bottle at the base of the neck, throw it a couple inches in the air and catch it at the waist. Always flip the bottle towards you to avoid hitting your patron if you make a mistake. The centrifugal force will keep the liquor in the bottle, but make sure to have a glass or shaker handy. Before performing this trick in the bar, practice it at home. Start with a smooth edged bottle that is less than half full and work your way up from there. You should get the hang of it within a couple days. This is also a great trick to impress at-home dinner guests.

Now You Know

Now you have an insider's look at some of the trick bartenders use to keep patrons, and themselves, happy. Be sure to watch for them the next time you visit your favorite watering hole.

Top Five Tricks Bartenders Use