Yes, It’s as You Feared: Bartenders Are Secretly Judging You
According to a new survey, the most-judged drink order is the Appletini
Recently, Alcohol.org surveyed 260 current and former American bartenders to find out their perceptions of customers. From most annoying drink orders to how much you should tip, here’s everything you were kind of curious about—but never really asked.
Some bartenders eye roll these cocktails
First lesson: Never order an Appletini. I mean, you can—we never want to stand in the way of dreams here—but you’re possibly going to get judged for it. The sweet, punching bag of a beverage is the most hated drink of a whopping 49% of bartenders. As beverage director Patrick Wells has explained, it’s essentially a '90s steakhouse cocktail drink that got popularized due to its super simple recipe—and its sweetness implies that the patron can’t handle real liquor. Again, no shame here: just the stats. We think you should order whatever your heart tells you to.
Similarly, 29% of bartenders also eyeroll long island iced teas—they’re super sweet, and can be made with lower quality liquor which tends to be rather… utilitarian. The second most loathed drink, however, was on the other end of the spectrum: the fabled Jägerbomb. 40% of bartenders surveyed secretly (or not so secretly) judge customers who order it. Right behind the Jägerbomb, meriting disapproval from 38% of bartenders, was the Sex on the Beach cocktail.
Surprisingly, almost a quarter of bartenders reported feeling judgey about customers who ordered a water at the bar—we’re still trying to unpack this one. The data is unclear about whether these customers ordered only a water and nursed it for hours while watching a football game and ordering zero snacks; in which case, the annoyance is merited.
Maybe don't ask for a free drink
Next up, the arena of bad manners. Here, asking for a free drink topped the list. Close behind this transgression was whistling to get the bartender’s attention. Again, we’ve never actually seen anyone do this, but we suspect that you’d get judged right out of the bar if you tried it in Silverlake or Brooklyn.
Or to be "surprised"
Third on the list of bartender-hated habits was when customers ask them to “surprise them” when making a drink. This earned a 4.7 on the annoying scale, with 10 being SO ANNOYED. And, please, never ask the bartender to “make it strong.” (You can secretly hope it in your head though. That is 100% okay.) Flirting with the bartender was also mildly annoying for female bartenders, scoring a 4.5 on the annoyance scale, whereas male bartenders minded it at a 3.5 level.
Please tip well and consistently
Perhaps the most juicy data was about tipping, though. It’s something we all wonder about, and there are definite taboos around insufficient tipping. No one wants to be that person. According to the 260 bartenders polled, a majority 38% said that $1 for every drink was an appropriate tip. (Again, it’s not clear the geographic distribution of the respondents; we imagine that, in places like New York and San Francisco, that number could go up a little.)
28% of bartenders broke down their expectations by percentage, citing 18% to 20% of the tab as an ideal tip amount. Only 10% of bartenders expected $2 or more per drink. (And again, it depends on the price of the drink, but you get the idea.) It was far more common to expect a standard $1 tip in a dive bar rather than a 20% tip for example, presumably because 20% of a $4 PBR, for example, is less than a dollar. If you’re in a pub, however, feel free to calculate tip by percentage—most bartenders expected it this way.
Now, all of this is good and well, but why should you even care about what bartenders think, or if they’re judging your tip? Well, they might very well be the ones to help you out when your friends are too wasted to do it. And, as far as stats go, there’s a 60% chance of that happening. That is, 60% of bartenders have seen customers become physically sick or vomit (really, they see it all the time, for better or worse). Even more have witnessed customers fall over, and about half have had customers flat out pass out on them.
Best to tack on an extra few dollars to your bill, just in case.