How not to piss off your bartender – a guide


Students, we need to have a chat. It’s about your drinking habits. No, not like that – it’s about your bar etiquette. It’s terrible.

Throughout the bar industry, we students have the worst reputations. And as a fellow member of this community, I have to concur – we are pretty awful. While there is the occasional exception to this (usually those who also work in the service industry), the student is feared and loathed in bars, pubs and clubs up and down the country.

As a member of both the student and bartender communities though, I have a vested interest in making us a less hated breed – both for our own reputation, and my own sanity every time I go to work. So, in an attempt to rectify this issue once and for all, I have compiled a handy guide on How Not To Be A Total Walloper When You’re A Student And Out Drinking/Eating.

  • If you can afford to go out, you can afford to tip

I know, we’re all broke and every penny counts when we go out, but the fact that you’re out in the first place suggests you’re not totally poverty stricken quite yet and can probably afford to give your bartender a wee tip at the start of your night. We know that students can’t afford to tip every time or be as generous with their tips as some other punters, but it’s really appreciated if you spare a quid or two as a tip with your first order of the night, and it’ll most likely get you preferential treatment the next time you’re at the bar – a win-win situation.

  • Learn the art of buying rounds

Especially if you’re out on a sub-crawl, society social or pub golf tournament. There is nothing more painful than making the same drink over and over again for a large group of people and charging for each one individually when it would take half the time and effort to do them all in one transaction (and don’t even get me started on individual payments where everyone wants to pay by card). If you can’t afford to do rounds, nominate one person to place the order and give them the money for your drink – it’ll save your time at the bar, my time serving everyone, and my patience with you all.

  • Accept that you will get ID’d

For some reason, many students do not seem to understand the need to bring out legal, valid identification with them to places they plan on buying alcohol from. Challenge 25 is a policy used across Scotland whereby if the customer looks younger than 25 (as most students do), they will be asked for ID. Failure to provide ID means we legally cannot serve you – and no, your student card, Facebook profile, 18th birthday badges or your mum vouching for you do not count as valid ID. Please, please do not take it out on your server if you are refused service on the grounds of not having (valid) ID – we are simply doing our jobs and abiding by the law. Also, don’t be an idiot and try and buy a drink on behalf of your friend if they don’t have ID or have had theirs refused – that’s also illegal, and will get you all kicked out if you get caught.

  • Know what you’re doing before coming to the bar

It’s okay to not know exactly what you want or to ask your bartender for a recommendation, provided the bar isn’t heaving, but coming to the bar and ‘umm’ing and ‘ahh’ing as you try and make up your mind, while holding up a queue of people behind you, before settling on the same thing you always drink is incredibly annoying. As is coming to the bar, ordering, and then squabbling with your pals as you try and decide how to pay. Not only does this piss your bar staff off, but every other customer waiting behind you for you to make up your damn mind. Decide what you want and how you’re going to pay for it BEFORE you get to the bar, for the sake of everyone else around you.

  • Don’t be a dick

This one covers a range of things. Paying in change is to be expected from students and is tolerable, but please, do not dispense it across the bar and expect us to scrape it off and count it up for you. In any case, placing your money on the bar rather than in our hand when paying is incredibly rude, and will immediately gain you the reputation of ‘dickhead’ – but this is especially the case when paying with change. Another way to guarantee yourself the title of ‘Chief Knob’ is by coming to the bar whilst on your phone – trying to order whilst refusing to pause your conversation, and hoping we’ll understand your vague pointing gestures is beyond infuriating and will win you no friends. Also, keep your PDAs as far away from the bar as humanly possible, respect the queue, and order Guinness at the start of your round. That shit takes ages to pour.

You should now be well equipped to make your first foray into a bar as a newly educated and respectful member of the student population, so go forth, drink, be merry, but more importantly, be a good customer!


[Phillippa Glass]

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