WOULD YOU/SHOULD YOU RELINQUISH YOUR BAR SEAT?
If I am at a bar and go to the restroom, I put my napkin on my drink to show that the drink, and the seat, are reserved. But this doesn't seem to work very often here in SC, as I often find someone there when I return. Twice I have returned to actually find my drink gone, even though there was a napkin firmly set on it, and people in my seat. Is it not right to save your seat at a bar? For instance, yesterday, I had a great seat at a bar in front of a TV to watch the baseball game and went to the bathroom, and put my napkin on the drink to reserve it. I then went outside for a quick cigarette. When I returned a girl was in my seat. I said politely "You're in my seat" She said "So?...You snooze you lose." Should I have relinquished it or stood my ground? Is it not right to reserve your seat or must you give it up if you go to the restroom or have a cigarette?
I would suggest you simply tell the bartender next time.....this way your drink will not be removed....or if anyone tries to claim the seat, the bartender can set things straight.
These days manners and propriety are just out-the-window. Sadly, at places that're strictly "bars," you're at the mercy of the bartender. Some will guide people who're after your seat to another one, but some just don't care. At bars in restaurants, for some reason, once you've staked your claim to a seat it remains yours until you cash out.
The one thing you can do if you're spending some time at a bar and are concerned about losing your seat is to a) tip your bartender well, and b) let the bartender know "I'm going out for a cigarette, could you watch my seat?"
Finally, regarding your particular instance, it's *never* a good idea when there's booze flowing to become confrontational about things, particularly a bar seat. Interact with the bartender or manager and they'll either help you out -- or not -- in which case you can choose not to patronize that place again.
Smile and leave her with the tab! It's happened to me, can't even take a pee, if you take my seat you own my bill. Now, I tell the bartender that I'm going for a bio break and will be back.
When I'm in a bar, I usually run a tab. Bartenders who haven't gotten their tip yet tend to be a little more protective. That said, I wouldn't rely on the napkin-on-the-glass trick; a quick "be right back" is clearer.
Now if this is a bar that's slammed, with people stacked up three deep trying to get drinks, it might be another matter entirely. I don't really know how etiquette works in such places, since I avoid them like the plague.