The Etiquette Rule You Shouldn't Break When Sitting At The Bar

Regardless of the type of bar you choose to drink in, there are a few unspoken etiquette rules in place to ensure everyone has a good time. One such rule involves the personal items you bring into the bar with you. If you're only at the bar for a short time, you might just plop your purse, bag, or other items on the counter and think nothing of it, but this is considered rude. 

For starters, there's only so much room on the bar counter, and the bartender needs that space to do their job, while other customers need it to place their drinks. The bar can also be sticky from spilled drinks or littered with crumbs, leading to a grimy purse or briefcase and making this faux pas wholly not-worth-it. Likewise, you shouldn't hang your personal belongings over the back of your chair when sitting at the bar. Though it's convenient for you, your things are now in the way of anyone passing by, and could be knocked to the floor. Even worse, your items are now out of your sight and an easy target for theft.

Instead, hang your personal belongings from the hooks under the bar counter. If no hooks are available, leave your items with coat check or in the car. And don't ask the bartender to hang onto your items; it's not their job, nor is it a good move in terms of liability.

Clean up after yourself only to a certain extent

Now that you know that counter space isn't to be squandered, you might try to put in more effort to keep it clear, but sometimes, even kind actions are unnecessary on your part. Just as it's bad etiquette to clean up your spills at a salad bar, it's equally problematic to do so at a bar counter. Sure, you might think you're helping by cleaning up your own mess, but you're likely to reach for those expensive little cocktail napkins, wasting them. The bartender, on the other hand, has rags specifically for cleaning up spills.

On a similar note, if you break a glass, don't attempt to clean up the shards on your own. For one, you could cut yourself, and that's a liability for the bar. Secondly, the bartender has equipment on hand –- gloves, rags, a broom and dustpan -– to safely clean it up.

At the end of your visit, you might feel inclined to gather your trash, but you should avoid putting said trash in your glass. While you may think you're helping, the bartender now has to remove all that sticky, wet trash from your glass before they can wash it, and we can guarantee they don't want to touch that. Instead, bartenders generally prefer that you leave your trash in a neat pile on the counter.

Know how to get the bartender's attention

Another important rule regards the treatment of your bartender. No matter how casual the bar, there's a right way and a wrong way to get the bartender's attention. Snapping or whistling? Rude. Calling out to them? Also rude. Waving? Questionable. Rather, the best way to get their attention is by making eye contact, perhaps with a smile. This not only discretely signals that you're ready to order, but also allows them to acknowledge you while continuing with whatever task they're working on (you know, like helping another customer whom you might've interrupted with your yelling).

Another big no-no is banging your glass on the bar to get the bartender's attention. All that's going to do is make the other patrons stare at you, wondering what your deal is. You might even break the glass, putting yourself and others in danger. Seriously, just quietly wait your turn like everyone else.

Perhaps the most important etiquette rules to follow at the bar, however, are that of respect and gratitude. Use your manners when interacting with the bartender, and always tip at least $1 per drink, if not the standard 20%. Treating them kindly will make them much more likely to be attentive to you in return.