How to Get Served First at a Busy Bar, According to a Barman

Here’s some tips and tricks to ensuring you’re served quickly on a busy night out.

We’ve all been there – scrambling and sighing as you flail a R50 note around, waiting to catch the eyes of a barman on a cramped night out on the town. While it’s good to be patient, it’s even better to have a drink in your hand, so, to remedy this problem, the folks at Monkey Shoulder spoke to experienced bar staff to find out the secrets of reducing the waiting time for your precious drink.

1. Whistling at the bar staff will not get you served quickly. Avoid doing this at all costs.

Nicholas Crouse from Lucky Shaker in Umhlanga says, “What’s really important to bar staff is that we are afforded some respect. If you shout, whistle or snap your fingers, we will pass you by. Also, have an idea of what you are looking for. We are happy to assist you if you are wanting to discover something new, but please don’t wait for us to serve you before you decide what you feel like. If someone comes to the bar and says, “surprise me”, what helps is if they say, “surprise me with something fruity”, in which case we will know in what direction we should go. All this makes serving you that my easier and more enjoyable.”

2. Talking to your friend in the line may make you look like you’re busy and do not need a drink. Likewise looking at the drinks selection makes you appear unready.

3. Bringing back your empty glasses may win you favour.

4. Stand out from the crowd: if you’re tall or wear a distinctive hat you’ll have an advantage.

5. Stand up for your rights: it’s OK to say that the person next to you pushed in, bar staff like to be fair.

6. Bar staff are divided on whether customers waving money around is a good or bad thing. Do however have your money ready.

Julian Short from Sin+Tax in Johannesburg says, ” Bar staff are very busy , so it is always best to know what you what and to have your payment ready. Making eye contact and leaving a good tip goes a long way, too.”

7. Eye contact is effective, but needs to be used sparingly. Do not stare at busy bartenders like you’re in love with them (unless you actually are in love).

8. Be charming. It helps.

Tinashe Motsi from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium in Cape Town says, “Making eye contact and having a nice social facial expression, like a big smile, or someone who is visibly expected to get a drink from you, will usually get my attention quicker.”

9. Stand directly in front of the bar staff and look friendly. If there are two people serving, stand between them.

10. Do not talk to someone who has just been served.

Or you can just do what you like and not worry about the odd extra minute in your favourite bar.

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