Top 5 Tricks of the Bartending Trade

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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.

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

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.

MN Magazine

MN Magazine

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