I shouldn’t have to write this, but apparently I do.
The following came to my attention via the fantastic Twitter feed of Jon Carney, my collaborator on the highly-popular (2.5 million views) and reasonably well-received post, How To Be A Man.
It’s called 12 Tips on Proper Bar Etiquette, by Gavin McInnis
I read it only because I recognized the author’s name as a sometimes 1/5th co-host of one of my go-to late night TV shows, Fox News’s Red Eye, hosted by the affable and usually politically-on-point Greg Gutfeld (Howard Stern meets Bill O’Reilly, with a splash of Marge Schott).
It also piqued my interest because Gavin has received an unjustified amount of attention (and criticism) for a rather funny YouTube video he recently made, “How To Fight A Baby.”
Clearly the author is playing the part of low-brow provocateur. But I’ll take the bait and respond, because hyperbole aside, the actual advice he gives is just downright terrible. Regarding bar etiquette, Gavin, this hipster-pretentiously-masquerading-as-an-unpretentious-working-mans-man (and co-founder of Vice), writes the following:
(My comments are in red)
“In America, people do air travel like they’re going to a sleepover, bring kids to R-rated movies, and let their offspring run around restaurants like we’re all in the same living room. It’s hard to know where to begin when imposing some decorum on Western culture, but I’m an alcoholic so I’m going to start with bars.”
For starters, people who call themselves alcoholics are usually just garden-variety drunks. Winston Churchill was an alcoholic. F. Scott Fitzgerald was an alcoholic. Guys who order Budweiser at dive bars are drunks, who usually end up running over the neighbor’s dog or pissing in their wife’s closet.
1. BRING CASH
As John Carney pointed out on Business Insider, stop pulling out your credit card for one drink. You’re not only wasting the bartender’s time and delaying his tip by at least a week, you’re slowing shit down for the rest of us. Go to an ATM and pay the fee they charge you to not waste everyone else’s money.
First of all, we said ‘carry cash.’ We didn’t say, ‘go to a bar, have only one drink, pay cash, ask for change, and leave a shitty tip.’
Keep it simple. Carry cash, and have the right denominations to tip well and still say ‘keep the change,’ or just throw your card behind the bar and open a tab. Even if you go to a bar by yourself, are you going to have just one drink? The last thing a bartender wants to worry about is making change, trusting other bartenders with the collective bank, and worrying about cash tips sitting on the bar top or getting lost in ‘books’ (the black vinyl cases that checks are usually delivered in).
And for the record, bartenders get paid their tips every single night, even the credit card tips. The only thing they might have to wait for (depending on the establishment) is the “tip out” – the percentage (3-5%) of sales that waitstaff pay out to bartenders in exchange for making the drinks that they get tipped on from their tables.
2. STOP ORDERING WATER
You know what booze is? It’s water with a tiny bit of booze in it. No more ordering a drink with a water chaser. Try the drink first and see if that quenches your thirst. It’s a fucking DRINK, for crying out loud. The only exception to this rule is a megabender where you’re risking alcohol poisoning by not having a glass of water for every seven pints of beer. It’s rational to do it then, but I still think it’s faggy.
There’s nothing wrong with water. Period. It’s not a chaser. It’s just water. And bartenders don’t mind serving it to you.
I guess I might be ‘faggy,’ but I enjoy ordering a water with my first drink, and then finishing it before I start my real drink. It quenches my thirst and sets the right pace for the evening.
Gavin, great use of the word “faggy” too. I forgot, hipsters can say it just to show how comfortable they are in not being considered homophobic. Isn’t that Chapter 4 in Alec Baldwin’s, “A Bully’s Guide To Using Racial Slurs, You Rotten Little Pig.” I just see a cheap textbook ploy for attention. That’s about as provocative or clever as saying “I’d rather watch Michael Bolton finger-bang my Mom,” or when white women think they’re edgy for endearingly calling each other “hooker” or “whore.”
3. KNOW YOUR DRINK
Can we stop asking the female bartender what IPA she recommends? She drinks Pinot Grigio and she doesn’t even like it. Order a Budweiser or a Guinness or a Maker’s on the rocks. The drinks they’re serving are really just rotten vegetables and we’re drinking them because they give us a buzz. As you sit there poring over the menu like any of this matters, we are fantasizing about ripping your head off. You don’t go to a drug den and order strawberry heroin, so stop asking questions about some stupid pumpkin ale.
None of it matters? Is that because the guy is being pretentious, or because you (Gavin) are a nihilist?
I get it. You’re saying chicks don’t know beer, because you’re a man, and you said so goddammit.
But in reality, there’s nothing wrong with asking a bartender (male or female) about the increasing number and varieties of draft beers that bars carry these days. Bartenders are usually educated on what the beers are, and how to best describe them to customers. Secondly, they know what sells and what people tend to like.
Female bartenders only drink Pinot Grigio? Really. Do you even know what a vagina looks like? Oh never mind. I get it. That’s just you trying to be provocative again.
Finally, I’m concerned about you. You’re fantasizing about ripping off some guy’s head because he inquires about the draft beers. Really? Sounds like there’s some misplaced anger in you.
4. CAREFUL, LADIES
We know women should be legally allowed in bars, but they belong there about as much as I belong in a feminist workshop about rape. Ladies, you are in a man zone, so please try to dial it back a bit and keep it to a dull roar. Your laugh after three wines sounds like a hyena being pummeled with a fire extinguisher.
Gee, I haven’t figured it out yet; do you use words like ‘rape’ and ‘faggy’ to try and get a rise out of people, or to mask a lack of substance?
Oh my God. A feminist workshop about rape. That’s edgy AND hilarious. “Hey guys, it’s me, Gavin. Yeah I’m over here. Watch me cross the line. It’s gonna be awesome…. Guys? Guys?”
For the most part, I find a group of women having fun with their friends while getting drunk to be incredibly sexy. I’d rather listen to that hyena than stare at the chip on your shoulder.
5. NO MORE BLACKBERRY MARGARITAS
I can’t believe this is a genderless rule but yes, even grown men order these elaborate drinks. If I am at an airport bar and I’m trying to get a bourbon buzz before a six-hour flight, please do not cut my drinking time by ordering something that takes 10 minutes to make. I have criticized men for doing this in the past and they were so oblivious their reaction was, “I know! ‘Not normal,’ right?”
If you let some tool interfere with your airport drinking, then you’re a moron. Anticipate the actions of idiots and fools, and act accordingly. If I’m stuck in an airport bar, I always order two at a time.
More importantly, it all comes back to the “When in Rome” rule, i.e. the exercise of common sense and discretion. There is a right time and place for a peach daiquiri or a piña colada, so don’t be shy… Just not when the bartender is busy, doesn’t have a blender, or if there’s no beach.
6. BOOTH SEATS ARE NOT SET IN STONE
When someone leaves the booth to go to the loo, they don’t need their exact seat when they get back. When he returns, everyone shuffles down one and he’s now in the aisle seat. Besides, it’s healthy for the conversation to have a musical-chairs scenario, so everyone needs to stop getting up and allowing dude to slide into his spot next to the guy who won’t stop talking about the price of his daughter’s gymnastics lessons.
Guy booth etiquette? This makes your list of Top 12 rules?
“Come on, bro. It’s my turn to sit between Andy and Greg.” – Gavin, apparently, while also using the word ‘bro’ ironically.
Ah yes. I remember the last time I sat in a booth full of dudes and experienced the same thing. I was 14.
7. NO THREE IN A ROW
If three guys are going for a drink, two may sit and the other must stand between them, creating a triangle of conversation. When three guys sit in a row at the bar, one is forced to crane his neck to hear what’s going on and another often has his back to a dude. You’ve been sitting at a computer all day. You can stand for a couple hours.
Another important conundrum – when one dude is the third wheel of your man-date.
When I’m with friends or colleagues, sometimes we sit and sometimes we stand. But, we don’t think too much about it.
8. TIP BIG ON FREE DRINKS
Freedom isn’t free and neither are free drinks. The custom is a dollar a drink on free drinks and that includes buybacks. If you know the bartender and she starts throwing out free drinks like a drunken maniac, you should tip $2 to $3 a drink. If a male bartender gives you change where it’s awkward to tip well, fuck him. If a female bartender gives you a $10 and a $1, you should ask to have the $10 broken to give her a better tip.
First of all, the $1 a drink rule dates back to the 70s and expired in the 90s, the early 90s. And wait, is $2 to $3 what you mean when you say ‘tip big?’
Secondly, never tip a bartender on a free round. You may as well be calling them a whore. Usually, they’re giving you the free drink for a reason, so thank him or her and tip big on the next round or when you tab out. Bear in mind, most bars religiously count and measure inventory, so the bartender either has a quota of free drinks or they actually have to pay for it out-of-pocket. So in their mind, it’s either a dividend payment or an investment in you.
Furthermore, Gavin’s scenario is preposterous. The bartender has already calculated the appropriate tip mechanics when he/she gives you your change.
Finally, Gavin had previously been so concerned (#1) about being an irritant to the bartender or to slowing down the service of other patrons. Yet, he now suggests asking a bartender to go back to the drawer a second time for even smaller change. “Here’s a five and five ones for your ten, you cheap fuck.”
9. MEN SHOULD NOT ORDER WINE
Today I saw a dude drinking a wine and a water. He might as well have been raping a baby and holding a Klan rally. Wine is for dinner parties and women and fancy restaurants. Pubs are places where Robin Hood’s merry men get wasted and fight. You can’t do that while holding a glass stem in your hand like it’s a goddamned rose.
Ah rape again, only now it’s babies… That’s outrageous! Hashtag winkyface.
Real men drink wine, too.
At a game, or with a fox. On a plane, or from a box. At a club, or in the tub…..
The only reason not to would be if the establishment doesn’t offer anything much better than hairspray. See “When in Rome…”
I’ll even drink wine in a sports bar, if I’m watching the game… or if I’m trying to bed a damsel (since you’re using the Robin Hood vernacular). Because I don’t want to constantly have to piss.
Go ahead and drink 15 Buds. But, you’ll be in the bathroom every 10 minutes and will come out just in time to see me leaving with that chick you were talking to. Don’t worry Gavin, that spot in the booth next to Friar Tuck just opened up.
10. STOP SHOWING THE BARTENDER PICTURES OF YOUR KIDS
Every time I go on a business trip, the hotel bar is crammed with dads showing the spinster bartender a picture of their kids. She doesn’t give a shit, dude. In fact, you’re depressing her because her roadie boyfriend is never going to be a dad. If you’re so drunk that you think everything you find interesting is also interesting to us, you need to go up to your room and sleep it off.
Sorry, I guess I’ve never been on a business trip to Omaha or Little Rock.
Gavin, in your mind, in this scenario, are the pictures physically in his wallet? Or is this an old drunk, sitting in a dark pub across the street from the Embassy Suites, surrounded by manly men, thumbing through a smartphone.
11. SLURRING IS A SERIOUS ACCUSATION
If your buddy says you’re slurring, you are. The only way to tell when someone is wasted beyond a shadow of a doubt is when they adamantly deny it. The second someone mocks your slurred speech, try to take it down a notch. Also, here’s a bonus tip: If you’re about to meet your wife or a business associate and you’ve had too much, stretch your cheeks by inflating air in them. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
I can’t really comprehend this series of incoherent non-sequiturs, so I don’t have much to say. Maybe Gavin is just wasted at this point and is slurring his own words? Some kind of hipster performance art.
Make up your mind. Am I meeting my wife or playing, “What’s the capital of Thailand?” with Robin Hood’s merry men? It makes a difference in terms of what kind of bar I’m going to and how much I’m gonna drink.
But if you’ve had visibly too much before meeting your wife or an associate, nurse your drink, order a snack, and keep your mouth mostly shut for an hour or so.
And next time, ask for a water every once in a while.
12. DON’T ASK IF YOU CAN CHARGE YOUR PHONE
Asking a bartender to charge your phone is like asking him to change your diapers. If you’re in a situation where your battery keeps cutting out, get a Morphie. If not, let your phone die. Bars lived without cell phones for thousands of years and they should continue to do so for thousands more.
Are you retarded? Oh I see, you just wanted to plug a shitty product… Nice…
Once again, it comes down to discretion. If it’s a quiet afternoon, and the bartender is on an iPhone, I’m going to ask for a quick boost if I need it. She’s happy to do it too, because experience tells her she’ll benefit come tip time.
In summary, Gavin, it seems like you are just a little bit angry. I think it comes down to the fact that you consider drinking in bars to be a hobby, yet cannot figure out why you are always treated like shit. (Pssst… It’s largely because you don’t tip).
So Gavin, I have a moral obligation to set you straight with The @GSElevator Guide to Bar Etiquette:
- Be a regular at more than one bar.
- Be patient. There’s no line for drinks in your refrigerator.
- Always tip more than you should. Tipping at a regular bar is a good investment.
- Never ask for a ‘good pour.’ That’s asking them to give you something for free, and bartenders can and do get fired for that. If they like you, they’ll hook you up.
- Never tip a bartender on a free round. Thank him or her and tip big on the next round.
- If you’re having more than one drink, or are with a group of people, always throw your card behind the bar. You can always settle the tab in cash at the right time.
- Don’t get drunk on beer when you’re trying to pick up girls.
- Never take off your suit jacket. Nobody ever pictures a drunk in a suit and tie. Remove the jacket; destroy the illusion.
- Don’t treat a bartender like he’s just some guy waiting until he finds a real job.
- Don’t whistle, snap, yell, or wave money. Unless you want people to think you work at Morgan Stanley.
- If you want to buy a woman a drink, ask her permission.
- If you are having friends, colleagues, or a partner meet you out, clear your tab before they show up. It’s not cool if they end up paying, but more importantly, it might make you look like the drunk that you are.
- If you want to put ice in your Pinot Grigio, go for it. Do what you want to do, not what people expect you to do.
- Don’t try ordering a drink from a bar back. You’ll end up with dishwater as a Corona, not that you could tell the difference.
- Don’t argue about a tab. If you’re arguing, it’s probably because it’s a material amount of money. And that means you’re probably not sober enough to argue.
- “When in Rome” might be the Golden Rule. But it’s just another way of saying, “have some goddamned common sense.”
- Don’t preemptively mention the tip. There’s no need to ever say, “I’ll take care of you tonight.”
- Shots generally only serve one purpose, to speed up the effects of alcohol. There’s a time and a place. And that time and place comes around less frequently after the age of 30.
- Always know what you are going to order ahead of time. Have a go-to drink in your repertoire. An old fashioned, vodka martini, a common beer, or even just a house chard. Sit down, take a sip, relax, and then figure out what you really want to drink.
- When out with friends, stop looking at your phone.
- As per ‘How To Be A Man,’ you can get away with a lot more if you’re the one buying the drinks.