Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
Aug 4, 2013 02:59 PM

More Bartender Questions


I have a few more questions for the bartenders. These questions fall under two categories: (1) Social Media (2) Cutting Off A Customer.

I read an article once which said: "Bartenders are not your friends." But Is it ever appropriate for a customer to ask a bartender to be his or her Facebook friend? Is it ever appropriate for a bartender to accept a Facebook friendship request from a customer? Would this fall in the category of crossing a professional boundary? Are bartenders ever discouraged by their management from doing so? If you are a bartender, do you ever accept Facebook friendship invitations from your customers?

As a bartender, do you have any specific drink limit criteria for determining when it is definitely time for cut off a customer? I know this question doesn't even have to be answered for a customer who has become sloppy drunk and who is being an unpleasant presence for the other customers. But what about the customers who seem to be able to drink one after the other and not show it, in spite of how drunk you know they truly are? About ten years ago, for example, I managed to order and drink five martinis at one particular bar, before the bartender tactfully suggested that I should probably call it quits. Would you ever let a customer order five martinis? By the way, I never did this again. My limit is now two martinis.

Okay, those are my questions.

I would be interested in any comments you may have.

All The Best,


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you related to Ted L. Nancy?

    1. Many bartenders realize that they are social figures and accept it (along with Facebook friend invites). Others reject it. I had one bartender refuse my Facebook friend invite but gave me his cell phone number so I can text him to find out when he is working. Some bartenders talk about their craft more and others talk about their life more, and varying degrees of privacy are needed by different people. The worst case scenario is that they deny the request.

      My case might be different in that I've been a writer for a while. But I do accept friends requests from readers of the blog I write. Now that I recently started tending bar, I have received Twitter follows but no Facebook ones yet. If it were a customer I had a great conversation with (and didn't seem too crazy), I would accept a request. Being memorable to the bartender helps. Seeing them outside the bar they work at (whether at different bars or at industry events) and chatting helps.

      Cutting off depends on the establishment and/or the bartender. Some people need to be cut off before they touch a sip in your bar for they are either too disruptive (such as crazy) or are already drunk. Two things come in to play (1) how the person's behavior effects the other customers and (2) the legal ramification.

      Even if you drank 5 Martinis and seemed fine then, there's no telling what you'd be like once all that alcohol hit your system in an hour. Or what would happen when you tried to go home. A good bartender will start conversations inquiring about how you're getting home to make sure you're not driving.

      7 Replies
        1. re: barleywino

          Fred, where ARE you tending bar? I knew you had a cocktail book out. I haven't got it yet but it is on my list. But I didn't know you were bartending. It looks like quite a few cocktail writers have stepped behind the stick.

        2. re: yarm

          Fred is tending bar at the Russell House Tavern in Harvard Sq, Cambridge, MA.

 | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            The cocktail menu looks great at Russell House Tavern.

            I have to get up to Boston and area. Last fall was my last visit, just for a few days for the bar guild conference and the Boston Cocktail Summit. I have several places to stay and need to visit all the new places that have opened.

            1. re: JMF

              Have to get back there and see Fred. Love you book, BTW! Now I have 2 bartenders I need to see at Russell House, Fred, and The Birdman (if he's still there).

              1. re: kimfair1

                Cheers! Yes, Birdman is still there. He mostly does Sunday through Tuesday nights upstairs lately. We both use the OnTheBar app for checking in for shifts:

                1. re: yarm

                  Thanks! I'll have to get the wife to put that app on her phone, I'm still a Luddite, and use a pay as you go flip phone!

        3. The original comment has been removed
          1. In the high end spirits/cocktail/bar/restaurant/food industry everyone is on fb. I would say that 90% of my fb friends are chefs, bartenders, bar managers/owners, and in the spirits/food industry. I just went through fb and deleted folks who were old friends/acquaintances who I don't talk to anymore, and folks who I haven't actually met, just keeping a few whose bars/restaurants I plan to visit. As well as those who don't post interesting things. After deleting over 500 I still have 700+, the majority I actually know, of which at least 400 are bartenders at fine cocktail bars, that I have met over the past decade since I entered the food/spirits/cocktail/distilling industry.

            Many bartenders and chefs have a following of customers and fb is the best ways to communicate where they are, what they are doing, their latest creations, when working, etc. (And twitter, although I don't personally tweet. I have an account and a few hundred followers, and only tweeted once, although that may have to change.) They use fb to announce events, parties, or to just say drop on by and hang out with me while you have a drink or bite to eat.

            I don't know of a single bar manager or owner who interferes with their staff about fb, twitter, etc. Other industries this may well be the case, but not in the bar industry as far as I know.

            1. PP says,
              "Bartenders are not your friends."
              True, but who says that Facebook friends are really friends? I'm not on Facebook, but from what i understand Facebook Friends aren't necessarily the same kind of friends as well, friends.

              2 Replies
              1. re: TroyTempest

                For many years, I swore up and down that I would never join Facebook. But I finally did.

                One remarkable thing I have found out about Facebook is that it has enabled me to reconnect with some people I have not seen in years. Last week, at 63 years of age, I became Facebook friends with somebody I had not seen since elementary school.


                1. re: PontiusPalate

                  That is pretty cool. I'm tempted to join for that reason, but i don't want to have to deal with the whole "freinding" people that are just acquaintances.