13 Bar Etiquette Tips to Ensure A Great Time

Bar Etiquette Guide

If you’re a night owl who constantly enjoys being on the prowl, it’s advantageous to know how to behave at a bar. What better way to find out the dos and don’ts of bar etiquette than from the people behind the bar themselves? Here are 13 tips from bartenders at Singapore’s hottest bars that’ll ensure you have a great night.

Be friendly.
Make friends with the bartender and you will be well taken care of.
– Ethan Leslie Leong, Maison Ikkoku Bar

Grab their attention—the right way.
When there is more than one bartender on the shift, it can be confusing for them to keep track of who’s next. Catch their eye and smile—bartenders are more likely to attend to patient and friendly customers. Do not snap your fingers or wave a hundred dollar bill at them. Do either of these and you will definitely never get served.
– Zac Mirza, House of Dandy

Be patient.
Remember that bartenders are human beings (not vending machines). Believe them when they say they are genuinely trying their best to bang out your drinks as fast as they can.
– Peter Chua, 28 Hong Kong Street

Order from the menu.
If you’re new to craft bartending, order blindly from the menu to get a better understanding of what your personal palate is. Only then can you order something off the menu.
- Michael Callahan, 28 Hong Kong Street


Know what you want.
When asked for your drink of choice, never tell the bartender “whatever you want”. Give them an idea of your preferred tastes.
– Hilda Tan, The Spiffy Dapper

Tell them what you don’t like.
If you’re feeling adventurous but aren’t sure of what you feel like having, tell the bartender what you don’t like to prevent them from creating concoctions you might not dare to try.
– Aki Eguchi, Jigger & Pony

Be honest.
Never be afraid to tell a bartender how you feel. It makes them more comfortable with you.
– Zachary Conner de Git, Tippling Club


Trust the bartender.
If the bartender tells you certain flavor combinations won’t work, trust them. Be open to suggestions.
– Mark Thomas, B-Bar at Bacchanalia

Respect the bartender.
Don’t tell the bartender how to do their job. They know what they’re doing.
– Jeff Ho, Jekyll & Hyde

Bar Etiquette

Treat the bartender how you would like to be treated.
If you don’t like bartenders to be rude to you, don’t be rude to them.
– Din Hassan, Bitters & Love

Don’t expect free drinks.
Don’t come into the bar trying to get a free drink by pretending to be a close old friend—especially when you’ve only met the bartender once in your life. Tip? Calling the bartender ‘dude’ or ‘bro’ doesn’t work.
– Dario Nocentini, Catalunya

Bring cash.
Save yourself the time and hassle (spend it on having fun instead) of waiting for your credit card by paying in cash. Alternatively, keep your tab running if you’re planning on having more than one drink.
– Nick Haas, The Cufflink Club

Say thank you.
A simple gesture like a smile or a thank you does wonders for a bartender. It lets them know you appreciate the thought and work they’ve put in to making your drink.
– Samuel Sim, The Horse’s Mouth

About the writer
Mandy Lynn is a former I-S Magazine nightlife writer and current editor of Nookmag; her dining and nightlife features have been published in Appetite Asia and Catalog Magazine. For on-the-go food recommendations, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or join her on a Gourmet Adventure.