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July 28, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday: You know you're a bad bartender when ...

bartender%20goofy%20too.jpgThis week, Owl Meat Gravy tackles one of the saddest (but truest) parts of Baltimore's nightlife scene: the service. I'm actually not surprised that most of these examples are based on real life experiences. Take it away, OMG:

How do you know if you're a bad bartender? Here are 19 examples I have observed:

1. You pick fruit flies out of a drink and then serve it. Extra points if you use your fingers.

2. You hate making frozen drinks, so you put a fork in the blender and destroy it.

3. You badger me to help you study for your biology test. More drinks, fewer flash cards.

4. You ask a customer if he wants to do a shot with you and then charge him for both drinks.

5. You whine about your problems. Hey, I had a tough day; I don't care that your girlfriend did a guy behind the Royal Farms in Highlandtown.

6. When someone asks for a Makers Mark neat you say, "Do you mean straight up?" Extra points for, "What?" ...

7. You knock off shots of Grand Marnier by ducking down behind the bar.

8. They get an Island Oasis machine for frozen drinks. You can't destroy it, because they will bring replacement parts. Your solution? 86 all frozen drinks on the computer for months.

9. You go out for a "smoke" break, come back, and sit down at the bar because you forgot you were working. 

10. You show up for your shift wasted and get sent home. You pass out for a few hours, notice you are dressed for work, and go back. You get sent home again and your new nickname is Bobby Two-Times.

12. You don't care how to make a Singapore Sling, Zombie, Flaming Moe, or Tickle Me Elmo, so you use the same recipe: vodka, pineapple juice and grenadine with a cherry and an orange slice. Your motto is, "Throw some stuff in a glass and make it red."

12. You buy girls shots and tell them it's called a Man Gravy ... after they chug. 

13. You drink so much Sambuca Romana that you have to replace it with a cheap knockoff from the liquor store ... which you drink too.

14. You kill flies around the bar with a fly swatter while people are eating.

15. You think that nobody will notice how drunk you are, because you drink peppermint schnapps.

16. Your friends' tab is five dollars and their credit card slip has a twenty dollar tip. Duh.

17. You try to take a nap on the beer cooler behind the bar. 

18. You serve cocktails on the rocks in a snifter because it's "classy".  

19. You're drunker than your customers.

Some of these are good or bad depending upon whether you are the customer or the owner. Why would I hang in such dysfunctional places? Other people's dysfunction is fun. Plus, you get great stories to put in a bar blog later.
I have to add that none of these examples were observed in places that I currently frequent and almost all of the bartenders have moved on to other careers. All the bartenders I know now are the most excellent people who ever walked the Earth.

(Photos by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:38 AM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


I've seen a lot worse, but I've left out anything for which the statute of limitations may not have run out.

You can't bother interupting your personal conversations with friends in order to wait on the customers (i.e: little havana).

Hey, why you using my picture up there?

Good list Owl,
I've seen some of those things happen as well.

too busy hitting on the new waitress to boither with you

Open wine bottles. I asked a bartender why all the wines by the glass bottles were without corks. She said that wine doesn't go bad in a day if it's open. I assume that they don't throw out th unused portion, so her "day" might be 24 horus or more. Yuck.

Do you know of any places in Baltimore that have one of those wine delivery systems that keep air out of the bottles? I don't know what they are called. I've seen them in NY and Georgetown and the wine is so much better that way

You only look straight in front of you and NEVER acknowledge that there may be other customers at the other end of the bat.

You work at Golden West

i dig my o's but come on, i dig them with pound of beer even more. the tv is for us not you's. enuff tv hypnosis. beer me!

You work at Golden West

Tee hee hee. I thought GW had the greatest bar and bartender in the world? I guess their bartender or owner must have poisted that.

Ah Owlie, thanks for writing my memoirs. I'm amazed that we both remember living on each side of that bar. ABSOLUTELY!!

Number 4 is absolutely inappropriate. The others are just in bad taste.

Telling me that I really don't want to get rail vodka and making that puhh sound because it's no good. shut up you jerkwad

Number 4 is absolutely inappropriate. The others are just in bad taste.

It's not a training guide.

Reality is never in bad taste.

OMG forgot one of the newer yet most annoying traits a bartender can have. Texting or talking on his/her cellphone.

I left out a few to give you some room to comment. Yes, I have been talking to a bartender on several occasions while he texts someone. I stop talking when I realize what he's doing and he got all irate ... yeah, go on, I'm listening...


At some places, it's like they deal with the customers in between watching TV, talking o the phone, texting, smoking, eating, talking to their friends at the bar, and hitting on other employees. It's more common than you would think.

A lot of places forbid their servers and barenders from using their cell phones while they are working, but they constantly cheat and sneak a look as often as possible even though it could get them fired. It's an addiciton for some.

Owlie, I love Mr. Smarmy. He had me at Open-Mouth-With-Tongue-Wink. He didn't even need the garnish.

Great YumPo. I'm working on my Open-Mouth-With-Tongue-Wink, just in case I ever run into you. ;-P

I didn't manipulate the photo at all. That's why I am in awe of Mr. Smarmy's ability to defy gravity as he tilts the drink.

I just realized Mr. Smarmy resembles someone who works with me. Oh hell -- now I'll be casting flirtatious glances his way during meetings, hoping he'll charm me with The Look (it's more likely the only response I'll get will be snores as he dozes in a chair, drool trailing from the corner of his mouth).

Oh Owlie, everything tastes better in a snifter. Some day I want to build a house that's shaped like a giant snifter. Classy living.

When you look like that guy in the picture... That drink can't be any good. Even if it is gravity defying...

The garnish is sickening

I had no.9 happen to me at the Harmar Tavern in Marietta, Ohio. It was with a waitress, however, not a bartender. She just stopped coming around my table, so I went looking for her. Eventually I found her at the bar having a drink, a smoke and a sandwich.

I would like to say that I stopped going there, but the Harmar Tavern is home to the "Sure to be World Famous Fried Bologna Sandwich". I'm not going to let a little thing like bad service keep me from enjoying such fine cuisine.

Number 4 is why we stopped going to Lager's. Who am I kidding there were 500 reasons we stopped going there.

You stopped going to Lagers? But it's so sexy in there!

That happened to you at Lager's? I found it hard to believe anybody would do that anywhere. If a bartender asks me if I want to do a shot with him, I wouold assume he's buying me a shot, not asking me to buy him one. That's wrong on so many levels.

Some of the items on the list are just funny if you're in the right kind of bar. It gives the place character. Unlike the time I watched a bartender do a heroin nod while standing up. He actually fell asleep several times. While pathetic it amusingg at the time, but I prefer not to know that mmy bartender is a junkie.

That dude in the picture looks like he went to bartender's school. they are such weenies

Bar turn-offs:
1) HIgh fiving. Do I look like your frat bro?
2) "You rock". Once a phrase gets co-opted by Rosie O'Donnell stop using immediately.
3) Aggressive up-selling. I ordered a vodka and tonic once and he bartender asked, "Do you have a preference for the vodka". I said No. She found he most expensive vodka on the bar. When I got the bill I was furious. To me, no preference means rail, not dealer's choice.

4) I once asked a bartender in a nice restaurant lounge how one wine compared to another. Is it dry? for example. He laughed and said "I don't know. I've never tasted wine." He did tell me that he graduated from the Bartender's Academy with flying colors. Bravo. A bartender that does not drink is weird. I understand bartenders that don't dirnk anymore, that's fine. But why go into an occupation like that. Plus it makes customers weird awkward.

5) Personal questions. I just got off of work dude. I do not want to tell you about my job.

Amanda C. I think I love you. This high-five thing has got to stop. It's like dude, you don't have to remind me you're a heterosexual, I can tell by your clothes. The only thing I hate more is the fist kiss. What the hell is that all about? "Let's kiss with our fists since we can't use our lips in public".

As far as "You Rock" or "It Rocks" or any other variation on the "rock" word, it has made me gag since the first time I heard it. The only things that should possibly "rock" are a good song, a ship, and a cradle. Let's just drop the misuse of the phrase, and let's leave it at that.

The most annoying thing to me is when a bartender is so busy talking to his friends at the other end of the bar that he doesn't see you are ready for a drink. It's a JOB dude! It is not your social hour, it's mine. Get to work, this isn't a party for you.

The one other thing that kills me was stated before, that being when the bartender says "Hey wanna do a shot?" and then your shot ends up on your bill. I just cannot figure that one out.

Love ya right back johnnycat.

I've never heard of the paying for both shots thing. That's like stealing. Imagine a world where someone offers you something and you have to ask if he's screwing you over. Most unplesant.

I won't even get into "feeding the chicken" or kaboom-hand. ;-)

They put eye drops in your drink!!!!
Ask you to order something easier to make because they are tired...
Use an off brand of coffee liqueur instead of Kahlua because it is cheaper.
Picks the nose, then makes your drink...
Takes forever to take your order because they don't like the way you look.!!!!

Hi Amanda C.! What the hell is "feeding the chicken" or kaboom-hand? God they sound retarded. I'm sure they'll be using them a lot at the new Mount Vernon Sports Bar (barf) which is a total oxymoron in itself. What are they gonna show on the TV's? Golden Girls, Sex in the City and Project Runway?

There are 2 #12's on this list and no #11. I'm assuming not being able to count and poor proof reading are also bad for a bartender. This thread will be out of business in 6 months.

This has been arouind for a while, I'm sure you've seen it on TV at least. Kaboom-hand (my term) is when one person holds out their open hand palm up and the other person acts like his hand is exploding on top of it.

Feed the chicken is similar but the second person uses his hand to act like a chicken pecking food off the first hand.

I can't believe I'm typing this, Five for me! Come on, don't leave me hangin' bro-ham.

At least the low five seems to have died.

My 17 year old cousin introduced me to the "hand hug" over the weekend. It's similar to the high five except it doesn't have to occur over your head. You would touch palms with another person and wrap your thumb around the back of the other person's hand. Goofy...i know.

Johnnycat, I'll have you know that some chairs rock. Not to mention hurricanes and lobsters.

I think 1970s soul brother handshake is finally dead. Some of those were really complicated.

#12 is ironic for a man named Gravy. Perhaps YOU are the worst bartender in the world?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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