How to Get the Attention of a Bustling Bartender

We’ve all been there. Standing at a crowded bar, two rows of people deep, music playing at thunderous levels, and you’re trying to get the bartender’s attention. As you wait, you see that other people are being served ahead of you. No problem. First come, first served; we’re cool. As soon as they’re served you try again. Your eyes widen in an effort to make eye contact, you try the “hail a cab” move, you call out a “Yo!” but still no luck, since the bartender probably didn’t hear you anyway and has moved on to someone else. As you squeeze a few inches closer to the bar, this scenario plays itself out several times until, FINALLY, you get to order. If you’re standing there with a date, this can be a little emasculating. You wonder if she’s thinking: “Who’s this guy? Can’t even get me a stupid Cosmo.” It may help if you’re tall, since, even in a crowded room the bartender is more likely to spot you. Though, if you’re not exactly NBA material, you might as well keep waiting until your number comes up.

Try to keep in mind that if the bartender seems to be ignoring you, it’s not personal. There’s a solution to getting served faster, and it doesn’t matter how big or how manly you are.

Location, location, location.

The first thing you need to do is pick the right spot. The ideal position is at the bartender’s station where the mixing is done. Even if you’re a few rows back, align yourself with that spot, since the people in front of you will probably be served sooner, as well.

Show me the money!

Secondly, make sure you’ve already got the money in your hand where the bartender can see it.

Keep your hands to yourself.

Remember the “hail a cab” move I mentioned earlier? Don’t do that. Hand waving and similar histrionics will get you nowhere. The key is to keep looking at the bartender. When he or she is ready to serve you, they’ll make eye contact. Odds are the bartender already knows you’re there.

One final tip.

There’s nothing like a good tip for getting speedy service when it’s time for a refill. Try to tip your bartender at least 20%. It sounds high, but goes a long way; you may even get an extra splash on your next round. Leaving a small tip, or worse, no tip at all, will keep you at the back of the line more often than not. So, if you plan on buying several rounds, be a sport.

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor at

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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