10 Sure Fire ways to Piss Off the Bar Staff.

Do Not Feed the Animals.. Give them shots instead, they're very thirsty...

Do Not Feed the Animals.. Give them shots instead, they’re very thirsty…

Today marks the official end of the summer.

Today my summer break comes to an end, and rather than being a short-of-work freelance writer, I return to official status as full time Bar Wench at one of the city’s prime student bars.

Back to porridge, back to pulling pints, back to teaching eighteen year old freshers to remember their please and thank-yous… can’t wait…

Oddly enough, this is about the same time of year that I lose that carefree, happy-go-lucky summer feel and transform into a Ms Hyde beast who eats rude students for breakfast. There are a variety of triggers that set off the transformation and for some reason in a student bar it never takes long to set it off.

And I’m not alone – bartenders worldwide have the same ‘dos and don’ts’ for customers. Stick by the rules and it could save your life, or at least your night out, but if you do have some sick desire to be eaten alive by an angry bartender, here’s a surefire guide of how to piss off the bar staff:

  1. Be rude – you cannot fathom just how far a little please or thank-you will get you until you forget to use it, an order that doesn’t include the word ‘please’ becomes mysterious mute to the bartender, think of this as a game of Simon Says, if the magic word isn’t there, it doesn’t count. Don’t underestimate the power of a please or thank-you, they really are the magic words, the make the beer appear.

  2. Be vague – “wine” isn’t gonna cut it guys… be specific or you will be met with a spitfire of questions “Red/White/Rose?” “Merlot/Shiraz/Sauv Blanc/Pinot?” “Large/Small?” “Do you want fries with that?”. Similarly “Beer” is not a valid order unless you want it served in a shoe, specify pint, bottle, brand if you have a preference, it’s awfully helpful.

  3. Ask for a surprise – you will be punched in the face, surprised?

  4. Ask for a free pint – you will be given a pint of water, possibly over your head.

  5. Ask ‘What’s cheap?’ – how long is a piece of string? ‘Cheap’ is relative to what you drink or where you’re from, if you want to know how much a pint is, ask, we’ll happily tell you. And if it’s offers you’re after, this is a business in a competitive economic climate, chances are any offers will be advertised on/behind/above the bar, on posters/flyers/menus, on the tables/toilet doors/barmaid’s chest – open your eyes, pay attention, it’s the only time you will get away with looking at the barmaid’s chest (see #6)

  6. Sleeze – you are not being sexy, you are not flirting, you have no chance, just stop now. Every winning line you think you’ve got, we’ve heard it. Flirting is a wonderful compliment to the bar-staff, and often a great pick-me-up on a busy night, not to mention an excellent way to make an impression that will get you served faster or more efficiently in future (see #7) but there is a fine line between flirting and sleezing. A good rule of thumb is the drink/driver rule – if you consider yourself too drunk to get behind the wheel of a car, you are too drunk to make a pass at the bartender, don’t risk the car crash.

  7. Assume the bar staff will remember your name/face/”usual” – unless you’re an actual regular, have put long and pleasant hours conversing with the staff, propping up the bar and putting money in the till, and I’m talking years of dedication, don’t flatter yourself that the staff will adopt the same familiarity with you as you do with them. You don’t have a ‘usual’ until a bartender actually asks you if you’re having ‘the usual?’

  8. Assume that your contribution to the daily takings is the sole reason we are still in business – you do not drink as much as you think you do, and if you did, you wouldn’t be boasting about it. Do not make any great claims about your levels of alcohol consumption, we are not impressed, alcoholism is not glamourous.

  9. Assume the bartender has short term memory loss – most of us are quite capable of remembering up to a dozen drinks at a time, go on, test us. That is assuming you will actually order a round rather that ten of you coming to the bar to order a pint each,or worse still, gather orders for the round while you’re at the bar having the staff hovering around for an hour and half getting one measly drink at a time. It’s like the Cub Scouts say ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to have your drink spat in’.

  10. Get drunk – sounds counter productive I know, but knowing your limits is one of the easiest ways to gain the goodwill and respect of the bar staff, never mind being the secret to a successful night out. And if you don’t know your limits, trust that the bartender does, believe it or not we’ve got your best interests in mind… kind of. If we refuse to serve you it’s not a personal vendetta against you, we just don’t want to clean up your vomit or worse still your blood from our premises, we don’t want to hear you moaning the morning after the night before about how you ended up in a fight, got your phone/wallet/dignity lost or stolen. So behave yourself, it’s for your own good.


Oh actually, there’s one final thing…perhaps the golden rule.


  1. Sneak in your own drink – Bar staff will put up with a lot of shit, they can deal with the poor manners, the drunken antics, the spilt drinks and everything else that comes with the day job, but sneaking in your own drink is the big no-no. Would you turn up to a restaurant with a chippie dinner hidden in your bag? Would you expect to be handed a plate and cutlery by the waiting staff? Thought not, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to leave and never return when we catch you with that quarter bottle in your purse. And if you do plan on chancing it, at least bring something nice so we can enjoy confiscating and drinking it at the end of the night. Thanks.

The Fear.

The Fear.

The Fear.

The morning after the night before.

You tentatively open one eye against the piercing drill of natural light, pat yourself down, checking that all limbs and digital extensions of yourself are intact, and then you wait. Slowly and carefully, your brain collates the full extent of the damage, your body anticipating the full force of two bottles of wine to crack you around the back of the head any minute now, there you float in hangover limbo, awaiting the imminent self-inflicted punishment like a soldier before the firing squad.

And then it hits, in all manner of physical attacks, depending on the particular poison on which you’ve overindulged: headache, dry-mouth, unexplained bruises, dodgy tummy, or if you’re very lucky, just an insatiable hunger to consume every carbohydrate this side of the M1.

But there is another hangover symptom which seems more and more common as we creep ever-closer to our mid-twenties, it is perhaps the most dreaded symptom of all, The Fear.

Like the calm before the stomach-churning storm when you first wake, while your body realises the full extent of the hang, The Fear is an emotional and psychological manifestation of that dread which lurks in the recesses of your mind for hours, sometimes days, long after the cement-mixer in your stomach and the pneumatic drill in your head have been laid to rest.

Urban Dictionary, perhaps the most important and relevant reference database of our era, defines The Fear as:

– a sense that people or organisations are out to get you;

– angst that you may have offended, inappropriately touched or physically attacked someone the night before;

– foreboding about the next time you meet those people or return to the bar where you degraded yourself the previous night;

– and a feeling that you are going to die.

And that is it in a nutshell, you find yourself shoulder deep in a black panic and paranoia that you have embarrassed yourself or offended another beyond repair, that you will have to face up to consequences of your own dishonourable behaviour. You scour through sent messages and dialled numbers, social media streams, awaiting the dreaded tags on Facebook photos, the well-humoured text messages from friends teasing you, mocking your pitiful state, torturing you with what you can only hope are exaggerated tales of your own self-disgrace.

As the day progresses, slipping past you, out of reach from where you lie on the sofa in the foetal position, you suffer palpitations and anxiety attacks as flashbacks of dance moves and tumbles out of taxis come flooding back at unpredictable intervals during the day.

You desperately try to fill in those Desperado induced gaps in the memory, reassuring yourself that the reality couldn’t be half as bad as the eventualities you’ve cooked up in your infested mind.

Unless it is.

In which case it might be better not to know.


And nothing is sacred when you’re hanging with The Fear, areas of your well-balanced and fulfilling life which had never caused you a second’s concern before now are suddenly bearing down on you with heavy, urgent, self-reproach.

Look at the state of yourself!

What are you doing with your life?

Call yourself a writer?!

Even the cat looks disgusted by your mere existence.

You are Peter Pan, plummeting ever-closer to earth as Hook picks away at all the happy thoughts which have kept you afloat all these years. You are doomed, destined to fail, to fall, to plummet to earth with no one there to catch you.

When this happens, you should have a bacon sandwich and immerse yourself in something suitably warm and fuzzy, anything Disney, although you may need to fast-forward through the first fifteen minutes of UP! That romantic sad story is surefire suicide when you’re grappling with The Fear.

This is the only advice I can give you.

Lock the windows and doors, turn off your phone and settle down with your calorie-heavy food of choice and enough sugar-coated romantic comedies to suffocate even the most hard-hearted pessimist. Talk to no one that you do not trust beyond doubt, who in your present state, will be no one, not even the cat. Do not dwell on the possible sins of the night before, but repent anyway for anything you might have ever done wrong.

You will feel like you might actually die, but this state is temporary, do not, I repeat, DO NOT ask anyone to phone an ambulance/priest/your mum for you – you will be ridiculed both by your friends, and whichever caregiver you have chosen to bother with your heightened ideas of mortality.

Don’t panic.

This too shall pass.