Please don’t whistle to your bartender, he’s not a dog – this is the first thing you need to know. We asked the masters of the best bars in Budapest about their likes and dislike when it comes to customers. Those who have to work the nightshift have it rough. They watch how people fall in love or occasionally get into a fight, they assist at first dates and breakups alike and they have to laugh with people who got a promotion or cry with those who didn’t. The bartender is the ringmaster of the craziest circus, the circus of life. And like every professional out there, they too want to do their job perfectly, regardless of how we feel on the other side of the bar.
Don’t wave, I’m not hitchhiker!
You can recognise a good customer as soon as they step in the door. Silent but attentive, they react when you says hi and they maintain eye contact. They’re open to suggestions and don’t have trouble with conversations either. I can leave these kinds of customers alone even for a second, but I won’t have long talks with people who only say “vodka-soda” all night. Of course, any good start can go wrong with a bad order. I will never like those kinds of people who make me list all types of vodka we have, then order the one we don’t have, or the four-person table that orders one at a time. It would help a lot is people would sum up the stuff we have by looking at the shelves, or if people wouldn’t consider us a fast food joint. Yes, we’re fast if someone wants a beer, but if it comes to an Old fashioned I’m more thorough. I think I speak for all of us when I say that people who reach into the bar, whistle or snap their fingers at us are very annoying and in 90 percent of cases won’t get their drinks faster than those who patiently wait for their turn. A good bartender knows precisely when everybody arrived. And there are a lot of wavers who don’t even know what they want, they just want to draw attention to themselves but are so surprised when they do that they forget what they wanted in the first place. Can you imagine how annoying this can be when we have a full house?
Tamás Kocsis, Spíler
Believe me, we know what we’re doing!
We’ll make anything you want that we have the ingredients for and we’re up to any challenge that you can think of, but please don’t argue with us about the basics. We didn’t become bartenders because our lives derailed, but because we wanted to. We know everything there is to know about drinks and we didn’t learn this from the guests. If someone won’t budge and they’re sticking to their false beliefs, that can be annoying. But the most annoying is when someone won’t take me seriously because I’m a woman. It’s clear as day when someone doesn’t want to accept the fact that I know a thing or two about whiskeys and until I prove them wrong they make snide comments about wanting to speak to proper bartenders. I have to work for my tips but I also have to work for recognition, but I don’t mind. I love to see their faces when my drinks convince them that I was right all along. After that, they treat me as an equal. Don’t get me wrong I’m in no disadvantage even though I chose a manly profession. Our guests usually don’t cross the line and talk to me with respect and I can deal with guys who are overly nice to me if they’re not jerks. But no one should be so bold as to start hugging me after I step out of the bar! I don’t think there’s any bartender girl who doesn’t agree with me on this.
Niki Bednárik, Boutiq’Bar
There won’t BE a cocktail, I’ll MAKE a cocktail
Most people who work in catering think it’s their mission to educate the guests. As I get older, I feel like this is becoming less and less important. When I came of age my dad took me to a bar and showed me what to do and what not to do. I know that not everyone’s parents think this way but I’m sure everyone has learned how to say hi at some point in their lives. There are times though when I think people have forgotten about this. From a communications standpoint being a bartender is like any other social relationship. Only those will find their places in it who’ve had the proper upbringing. In simple terms, people who can say hi, goodbye, please and thank you.
Without overly mysticizing it, you’d have to agree that the relationship between a bartender and a guest is a relationship of trust, even if it’s only for an hour or two. If someone comes in and lays out his order without even saying hi, that’s going to seriously undermine the relationship. If the order starts with “It’ll be…” you’re going to get an icy atmosphere next to your icy drink. This even goes for a bottle of beer, because someone has to open that for you.
Titusz Vitéz Guczi, Warm up
If you don’t know what to drink then ask what my favourite is
I have to point out that we don’t judge anyone based on their order or if they don’t know what to order. That would be a mechanic looking down on someone because they don’t know what the problem is with their car. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no problem if the guest knows what they want but not the ingredients for it or the proper name of the drink. We’re here to help and to figure out how to show you a good time.
The final product that makes its way to the counter can say a lot about the customer who ordered it. This can be a good starting point to any conversation, but only if the person wants to have a conversation. A good bartender always knows when someone wants to be left alone. The most popular drink in the world is “make me something” which suggests that most people don’t know what they want. We’re always glad of these opportunities and try to make a drink that showcases how exciting and colourful mixing can be. My favourite is when someone asks for a classic drink with a twist, but you can sweep me off my legs if you ask me what my favourite drink is and then try it yourself.
Zsolt Szombati, Tokio
It’s even better if you come for the experience
It doesn’t matter where you live, a civilised guest won’t treat a bartender or a waiter as a slave. A civilised guest is patient and accepts that the length of service depends on how many people are in front of him in line. The one thing that’s different here in America is that people go to bars and restaurants for the experience and not only because they’re hungry or thirsty. These people usually know that it’s not only the food that they have to pay for but also the service and the professionalism of the people responsible for providing the aforementioned experience. That being said, jerks can be found anywhere. These are the people who start an argument about a Bud Light being 6 bucks while two blocks down the street it’s only 4. Or those who study the menu for twenty minutes then order 3 things that are not on it.
Péter Szigeti, Committee (Boston, USA)
All of the professionals above agree that there are no bad customers. They must’ve approached them wrong. But rest assured, even if this is the case, they’ll do everything they can for you to have a good time. Bartenders can do this more easily from behind their cover and with a fancy arsenal of drinks at their disposal. Waiters, however, have a much tougher job out on the “field” because they have direct contact. But even they try to see the best in any guest. And for this, we owe them our respect. This goes for anyone working as anything. People only want to be appreciated while doing their jobs. Those who treat their hosts as rags usually don’t think about the consequences of their actions. While they leave after a few drinks, the bartenders have to work their whole shifts in a bad mood. And if you’re too selfish to see this point of view, think about how rewarding patience and kindness can be. Plus everybody knows that a happy bartender means more alcohol in your drinks.