Conversation Do's and Don’ts for Bartenders

January 10, 2017 Jackie Prange


The best bartenders are many things: quick, reliable, attentive, energetic, multi-taskers, and not to mention, excellent communicators. As such, there’s much more to bartending that pouring shots or mixing the perfect Cosmo – caring about what you’re serving isn’t enough, you have to care about who you’re serving to be successful. So if you’re a bartender hoping to master the art of small talk, with the help of these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be small-talking up a storm in no time!



DON’T pursue a career in bartending if you’re not a people-person

To succeed in this field, a cheery disposition and a love for good old conversation are a must. Without these, you’ll cost yourself extra tips and repeat customers.



DO have some conversation starters on hand

Whether it’s the history of the establishment or the drink you’re making, keep some light icebreakers in your back pocket when talking about the weather or sports have been exhausted.



DON’T engage in discussions about politics or religion

You never know who’s sitting on the other side of your bar, so avoid sensitive subjects all together to make for a frictionless customer experience.



DO keep up with current events

Whether it’s the game that was on last night, or an upcoming holiday, these timely topics make for easy – and fairly effortless – conversation.



DON’T be aggressive in your attempts to converse

Some patrons are happy engaging with their bartender for the duration of their visit, others are happy enjoying their own company. Regardless, it’s up to your customers, so be perceptive to find out which customer belongs in which camp.



DO be kind and compassionate

As the saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” The same holds true for your patrons. For some, you may take on the role of the therapist, for others, your company alone is enough. When a customer feels like they have a friend in a bartender, they’re more likely to become a repeat customer and leave hefty tips.



DON’T be impatient 

There’s nothing worse than asking a customer “What can I get you?”,  before they’ve even had the chance to settle in or check out a menu. They know why they came into your business, so don’t fret, they will place an order. To maintain your patient demeanor, start off with a friendly segue, like “Hi! How are you?”, then occupy yourself with a light task to keep you from hovering while they make a decision.



DO know the difference between attentive and smothering

Your patrons want to sit back and relax, not stress themselves out trying to get a bartender's attention, or on the other hand, be repeatedly interrupted by an over-attentive or chatty waiter. Know the difference between these two extremes and deliver accordingly.


Your patrons are paying for booze, but they’re tipping for service. Ensure yours is top notch by keeping these do’s and don’ts top of mind during your time behind the bar.


Interested in more bar reads?

Check out Happy Hour How-To


About the Author

Jackie Prange

Jackie is a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro. She covers the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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