Hospo Voice

7 questions not to ask a bartender

March 29, 2021

When someone orders 6 espresso martinis at last drinks

Do these questions piss you off?

As bartenders, we love to meet new people. The secret to being a good bartender is being able to chat about any number of topics while also shaking up a James Bond-worthy dirty martini.

But there are right and wrong things to ask a bartender. There’s something about the combination of alcohol and the Cheers stereotype that gives people a familiarity to ask some pretty inappropriate things.

We’ve spoken to some of our members and here are the 7 things that they’ve been asked as a bartender that have REALLY pissed them off.

“What’s your proper job?” 

Ugh, this is such a kick in the guts. We’ve just made you an amazing mojito and you deign to ask what our actual job is, as though being a bartender isn’t enough.

Being able to remember countless recipes, keeping track of who’s next in line in the bar, coming up with new cocktail ideas, training staff members and keeping a smile on our faces are skills. Damn good ones.

Sure, for some people, working in a bar is a side job while they study. But for many of us, this is the career we want to be in, whether it’s for the next few years or for a lifetime. It’s just offensive to imply that bartending should always be a stepping stone to somewhere else.

We love this industry. We want secure work and to be treated with respect. That’s why workers all around Australia are coming together in our union to #RebuildHospo and fight for jobs we can count on.

“What’s your phone number?”

We smile, are friendly, and make you feel at ease in the bar. You smile back, and now you ask what time we’re finishing work that night with a suggestive grin. Awkward.

The thing is, we work in hospitality. It’s our job to be polite and friendly. It doesn’t mean we’re flirting with every person who enters the bar. It’s how to be a good bartender.            

Harassment of hospitality workers has to stop. Every day, hospo workers face sexually suggestive remarks from customers, being groped and worse. Respect in the hospitality industry is still a huge problem and we’ve all got to learn that respect is the rule.

Hospo Voice members are campaigning to ensure our workplaces are safe and respectful by encouraging venues to implement a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment in our workplaces. Get involved and help out!

“Can you give us a smile?”  

While we’re on the harassment topic, the one thing that makes us not feel like smiling is being told to smile. This is often said to female bartenders, and it’s just plain rude. Do you smile every moment when you’re at work? If you do, your coworkers might think you’re a bit weird.

Fact is, we’ve usually got our RBF on. What’s that? Our Resting Bartender Face – the face we put on when we’re concentrating on being a good bartender.

“Can you make it extra strong?”

No. Please don’t even ask. There are a few reasons for this:

Can you make me something girly/manly?”

What does this even mean? Booze isn’t gendered, people! If you ask for a ‘girly’ drink, you may end up with a top shelf whisky and a light wallet.

If you’d like a recommendation, definitely ask us (we know our booze). But use words like sour, fruity, tangy, creamy, rich, to describe the style you’re after. If there’s a particular spirit you like, tell us too so we have an idea of what taste you like.

“Surprise me”

Please please don’t say this. People think bartenders like to make drinks we want to drink. But really, we want to make you something you’re going to love and we don’t know you or your tastes.

If you feel like a cocktail you can sip on and we give you a flaming shot, you’re gonna be surprised and not in a good way.

“Can I just get one more round/drink?”

If last drinks have been called, don’t bug your bartender for more drinks. The venue is licensed until a certain time and they can get in trouble for serving booze beyond that time.

Not to mention that closing time means it’s nearly home time. For the love of god, let the bar staff close up and finish work!

In all seriousness, most bartenders are extremely friendly. We love seeing people have a good time and we are proud of what we do in the hospitality industry. We love to chat with our patrons as long as it’s respectful, friendly and without sleazy undertones.

If you work or have worked somewhere where you feel backed up by your boss and able to, give them a shout out on Fair Plate. And check out which venues to support when you head out. Don’t give your money to wage thieves or employers who treat their staff badly.

Looking for more info about working in hospo?

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