How to get the attention of a bartender

Ever been in a busy bar and waited hours to get a drink? Even when you are convinced others are getting served before you? Here’s how to get served quicker.

Someone once said, when an Englishman is alone, he forms an orderly queue of one. Whilst that may be true, and my queuing skills are certainly second to none, some people think it’s acceptable to push to the front in order to get served quicker. I once saw an orderly queue in Starbucks slowly turn into a crowd and I got really angry about it, so I figured there must be a few tricks you can use in order to beat the rabble.


Researchers at Bielefeld University performed studies on 105 customer attempts at getting served in nightclubs in Germany and Scotland. The researchers analyzed what the customer did directly before getting served and they came to a common consensus; those who stand squarely at the bar and look directly at the bartender stand a greater chance of getting served quicker.

Whilst that might not be groundbreaking, they did find a few interest things. Firstly, squeezing in between other customers might mean you will wait even longer. Next, looking at money or waving money at the bartender will certainly mean you end up waiting longer.

Crowded Bar

Here are some tips:


  1. Know what you want

There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting behind someone who keeps ‘umming and aaaring’ about what they want. An efficient transaction will improve your relationship with the bar staff and speed up the time it takes you to get served later on. Order what you want and don’t start adding things once the payment has been completed. You wouldn’t pay for your groceries in a supermarket and then make everyone wait whilst you went back for some lemons.

  1. Choose your spot

Choose your spot wisely. Check where the bartenders are serving and pick a good position. Don’t stand too close to the till. Try to stand in a position where you are servable by more than one bartender. A good bartender will usually know who’s been waiting the longest but on a busy night, try and double your chances by standing between them.

  1. Make eye contact

Try and get the attention of the bar staff as soon as possible. Smile and tilt your chin up at them, but don’t yell, yawn or wave money. That will certainly end with you waiting longer. Smile, be polite and be ready.

  1. Give your order politely, quickly and clearly

Politely tell your bartender what you want and understand that they might be extremely busy. They might not want a chat, but that doesn’t mean that they are being rude. Bar staff are usually not highly paid, so treat bar staff as you would like to be treated.

  1. Tip!

Tipping is always optional but it does help you getting served quicker next time. If you are just ordering a bag of crisps then don’t bother tipping, but try to tip whenever possible. You are doing a generous deed that will help them out and they will more than likely help you out by serving you quicker next time.


Best and worst bar experiences?

Let me know on my facebook page!


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