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What is the best way to order food/drinks that keeps the bartender happy?

When I eat out alone and eat at the bar what I've been doing is usually ordering a drink first then drinking while I look through the menu and then I order food. While I'm eating I might order a second drink. Then after dinner I might order dessert. Then after that coffee. Each time I will wait for the bartender to come by and then I'll ask him for the next item.

I was reading an article that said bartenders much prefer if you order everything you're going to have that evening all at once right when he first talks to you because that saves him trouble of constantly asking you if you would like anything else. It emphasised that the bartender will be able to remember everything with no problem.

I never thought of that...is that valid? Is ordering everything all at once the preferred way to go when eating at the bar?

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  1. I prefer to order drink-by-drink as I am likely to change my mind mid-course. As long as a good tip is given to the bartender, I am sure happiness will be ensured. After all, the bartender is there to provide service as you need it.

    1. Please provide a link to the article, as I'd like to see who's responsible for this idiotic suggestion. I don't always walk into a bar knowing how long I'm going to stay or how many drinks I'm going to have, and I'm sure I'm not unusual in this regard. Nor have I ever been offered a (separate) dessert menu along with the main menu. Have you?

      5 Replies
      1. re: small h

        Most places I've been have a separate menu for dessert; except if some dessert need to be order at the same time as the rest of the meal (souflé, ... )


        1. re: Maximilien

          Yes, that was my point. If a separate dessert menu exists, I've never been given it while I'm deciding on an appetizer and an entree.

        2. re: small h

          I wouldn't be surprised if the article didn't suggest the customer order an entire round at once rather than ordering one drink at a time if you want multiple drinks for your group. That can be annoying to a bartender but idea that someone should order everything they will consume in an evening defies common sense.

          1. re: reatard

            Oh, sure. That makes perfect sense: If you want multiple items to arrive simultaneously, you order them all at once. Goes for food as well as drinks.

            But there's a reason that bars with two-for-one happy hours usually give out some sort of marker to remind the bartender that you've got a free drink coming - bartenders can't possibly be expected to remember who gets what and when.

            1. re: small h

              Having been a bartender I can tell you there are people that when asked what would you like they will say, "Guinness". You go and pour the pint and when you get back and say, "That'll be $6, please", they say, "Oh, I'd like a Stella Artois, too." Go back to the taps, pour the second beer, "Okay, that'll be $12" and get in reply, "And a Jack and Coke." If they had just ordered all at once it would save you a minute or two.

              If it's busy night this system of ordering can make you want to pull you hair out.

        3. Never done that, never will.

          As much as I like the bartenders, I don't trust them remembering my full order, especially when there is a rapid turn-over of people at the bar.

          1. Part of the bartender's job is to "sell" drinks. By eliminating the bartender's need to check up on you, he can't ask "Would you like another drink?" - which might be enough of a nudge for a customer to re-order. It may be easier on the bartender to take a complete order, but I would think it is not in the best interest of the bar itself.

            1. Frankly I could not care less (up to a point) if the bartender is "happy." I would like him to be friendly, efficient, responsive, and competent.

              - If i am thirsty when I sit i order my glass of water
              - If I want to finish the chapter of the book i am reading for 5 minutes i will do that before ordering
              - If I want to order and appetizer first and then return to the menu for the entree then i will do it
              - if i only want an appetizer and dessert i will do it
              - if i want only an appetizer i will do it
              - if i want dessert only i will do it
              - if i want to order all at once i will do it.

              i am totally flexible but:

              "max happiness of bartender" is not even a line in the linear program

              As i have said in other threads...this is my down time, my time to relax, while it is the bartender's time to work. I spend my work time making my clients happy, i am now on the other side of the coin.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jfood


                It's the bartender's JOB to check on the guest often, unless the guest has made it clear he doesn't want to be bothered. The "advice" given is ludicrous.

                I normally order exactly how the OP does, and, as someone who bartended for more years than I like to recall, so does almost everyone else. No one is expected to order everything at once.

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Thanks...I will continue ordering as I have been doing it. Sounds like I'm doing it right.

              2. Hot tip: You're not there to make the bartender happy. The bartender is there to make you happy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: beevod

                  If the bar tender is happy with my ordering, will he leave me a TIP????

                  1. re: tanker64

                    Hmmmmm.....could be! Maybe if I'm extra nice to him he'll give me 20% of the price of my order for being such a good customer. LOL!

                2. Is it your job to keep him happy or his to keep you happy? I would say that you do as you please and as long as you are courteous and tip appropriately, you shouldn't give it a second thought.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                    I have been tending bar for a good part of the last 28 years! The bartender is there to make you happy; NOT the other way around!

                    The only exceptions are drugs, walk-outs and demands for free drinks. All of the preceding are violations of MA liquor laws.

                    If the bartender can't remember orders they aren't bartenders!

                    1. re: postemotional1

                      If the bartender can't remember orders they aren't bartenders!

                      See, and I am not sure I agree with this. A good memory does not make a good bartender. A good bartender brings me a well made drink as promptly as possible. I don't care if she writes it down or not. There is nothing worse than wait staff that stands there, sans order pad, take the order, then has to come back and double check. Fail...

                      1. re: NanH

                        No, a good memory does not make a good bartender, but a bad memory DOES make a bad bartender. Once you go below a certain point it is a lost cause.

                        Do you think that a bartender with a bad memory will remember to write something down?

                        I think not!

                  2. The bartender is supposed to keep you happy, not vice versa. It's his job to serve you. If you start out drinking a Tom Collins, then when you're finished with that decide to switch to a Singapore Sling, and after that decide on a snifter of Gran Marnier, there is nothing wrong with that. It's ludicrous to think that you should have to say upfront what you are going to want all night. You're allowed to change drinks, you're allowed to change your mind, and taking your order everytime you do is what the bartender gets paid (in your tips) for.

                    1. the best way to make a bartender happy:

                      1) tip well
                      2) don't be an asshole
                      3) tip well
                      4) don't be an asshole
                      5) tip well
                      6) tip well

                      and yes to all you posters who say it is the bartenders job to make you happy. but that does not preclude you from being a good customer, a nice person, and thinking of the bartender as well. in fact it behooves you to, if you want to be kept happy by hir

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: thew

                        I couldn't agree more with you , thew. I think at times people lose thier ability to cut a bartender or server some slack. A smile and a kind word will work wonders

                        1. re: thew

                          Right on! I eat at the bar all of the time. I try to be friendly and pleasant, often ask the bt's advice re food, but then order what I want in the order I want it. I always tip 20-25% and almost always am treated very well.

                        2. I tend to follow a habitual imbibition schedule at mealtimes I'll start with a Dewars and soda and then glass of house red with the entree. But I haven't had much success with ordering all drinks all at once. The waitress gets confused and either omits one or serves two at the same time. So I try to keep it simple; keep it to one at a time requests.

                          1. Why would anyone care how the bartender prefers that you order your food. Unlike sitting at a table where a certain protocol might possibly be appropriate, the bar is a different story. I often will sit at a bar, have a drink and then decide if I even want to eat or not. Unless, I am sitting at a sushi bar or a chef's bar (where it is absolutely expected that one will have dinner), I do not think it's any server's business to determine what I drink or eat, and in what order I do so!

                            1. order what you want, how you want it, when you want it. the bt is there to attend to you. if you are ordering a huge round of drinks at a busy bar, yes it is good etiquette to have your order together before calling for the bt, and your method of payment at the ready. sounds like the op tips fine-- above average, and any bt should love to have him around as a regular. the way the op orders sounds totally fine to me.

                              i must disagree with some folks who think it's okay to sit at the bar and order only water or read. most bars, even very nice ones in elegant restaurants and hotel lobbies, etc. have house rules about loitering. there are always people who will try to get free service without purchase at a bar-- therefore when you seat yourself at the bar you should be prepared to order & purchase a beverage of some type right away, even just coffee or an iced tea. to do otherwise is to put the service employee in a bad spot and chances are it will start your interaction w him/her off on the wrong foot. this is unfair to both parties.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: soupkitten

                                I totally agree with you that it is inappropriate to sit at a bar and not order something. But beyond that, it's the customer who calls the shots. Sure, the bt will be unhappy if the bar is busy and you nurse a coke for an hour, but aside from that sort of behavior it's up to the customer what to eat or drink, and in what order.

                              2. When I was travelling, I almost always ate at the bar. I find bartenders to be easy going and well versed on how to serve. I find them very entertaining and willing to pace you anyway you wish, they also add a great benefit of giving samples of drinks they mix.