Bar Etiquette: 8 Must Rules To Follow

bar etiquette

Heading out for a night of fun at a new pub or club can feel intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with how to act at a bar. Save yourself potential embarrassment or issues by following these 8 golden rules of bar etiquette covering proper conduct from arriving until the last call. 

Learning these fundamental bar rules and regulations regarding behavior, tipping, interactions, and more before bellied up at the bar ensures responsible revelry. Use this easy guide to avoid faux pas at your next happy hour or late-night adventure!

1. Treat Bar Staff with Respect

Treat Bar Staff with Respect

Bartenders and waitstaff represent the lifeblood of any establishment, working hard to deliver friendly, prompt service catering to customers. Without their skills and high tolerance, the bar cannot properly operate. Reward bartenders’ efforts through fair tipping, which should fall around $1-$2 per drink ordered and 15-20% of overall tabs.

Signal intent to tip immediately upon ordering rather than waiting until the night’s end. This conveys appreciation for their forthcoming service filling orders. Of course, modify tips accordingly for exceptionally good or bad assistance.  

Avoid entitled behaviors like aggressively waving money or repeatedly snapping fingers for attention, which come across as demeaning summons demanding servants. Such insolent gestures often backfire, earning purposeful ignorance. 

Simply wait your turn for help, using brief eye contact or a polite raise of the hand to capture a bartender’s notice when available. Then kindly convey order details. Send thanks and smiles to bartenders and servers throughout the night showing gratitude. Their hard work enhances everyone’s experiences.

2. Mind the Personal Space 

Even the most outgoing extroverts deserve space in public venues. Avoid violating comfort zones uninvited despite the high-energy social scene. Do not assume the party atmosphere equates to unconditional social intimacy with total strangers. 

When it comes to open bar etiquette, remember that you have no right to someone’s personal bubble without initial consent, regardless of tight quarters or spurring liquid courage. Refrain from unwelcome touching like grazing arms, thighs, lower backs, and shoulders, and pulling people onto dance floors. 

Keep hands respectfully to yourself unless given clear access through verbal and physical communication. The same rules apply to personal conversations – do not force talk or pry with overly invasive questions making others visibly uneasy. Be mindful of body language cues and do not pressure people into uncomfortable interactions for your own selfish amusement. Have situational awareness and let people enjoy their night.

3. Monitor Noise Levels 

The sheer decibel volume inside packed bars easily exceeds comfort levels, so do not exacerbate the problem by yelling at conversations or drunkenly obnoxious laughing. The sound multiplies quickly when everyone must scream basic exchanges. 

Avoid adding to noise pollution ruining vibe nuances featuring live music acts or more intimate lounge settings intended for mingling, not shattering sound barriers. If struggling to hear friends, lean closely into ears when responding rather than hollering. Do not tap glassware or bang tables disrupting experiences for those around you. 

Control volumes to the best of reasonable abilities given the party context by excusing yourself to outside areas if feeling excessively loud in confined interior spaces shared by other patrons trying to enjoy the atmosphere.   

4. Have Etiquette With Open Bars

Open bar etiquette

Open bar settings offer guests complimentary access to unlimited pours for fixed durations. Patrons can easily get carried away partaking excessively just because it feels freely available. Avoid reckless overconsumption by pacing yourself. 

Try sipping water between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and slow intake rather than chugging multiple back-to-back. Allow bartenders adequate time to replenish their stations if flooding them with countless customized orders burns through primary liquor stock too quickly. 

Tip them fairly for the gracious provisions they supply until closed tabs eventually cut guests off from ongoing supply. Just because open bar access exists for limited opportunities does not entitle recklessness and waste. Show gratitude through reasonable drinking behaviors and financial generosity when possible.  

4. Bring Identification  

In legal compliance with mandates, bars require visitors to provide proper identification verifying their legal age aligned with policies determining who can enter and order alcohol. Present valid IDs like an original driver’s license or passport when asked by staff upon arrival or first-round purchase. 

Understand bouncers and bartenders must follow protocol enforcing these regulations on-premises or risk facing serious penalties to business operations found in violation. Do not plead exceptions or exemptions for yourself because of impatience, forgetfulness, or perceived maturity levels. 

Carry proper credentials at all times or risk refusal from entry or service. It becomes your own responsibility to manage, not the establishment bending the rules. Come prepared to show identification when out at bars.  

5. Avoid Getting Too Messy

Drinking in bar

Some people cannot handle liquor limitations, but showing up already intoxicated and disorderly or quickly descending into hot mess status during short bar stints ruins the overall ambiance. Control alcohol consumption to avoid chaotic conduct. If you can’t seem to limit the alcohol because you want to try all of the good drinks, look at this list of the best sweet wines so you order only what you would like!

Some things you should never do at a bar include stumbling into strangers, spilling drinks everywhere causing slip hazards, knocking over glassware or plates, vomiting indoors (or outdoors on venue property), aggressively yelling obscenities, crying uncontrollably, passing out while still seated, dangerous dancing behaviors that harm others, or any other liability posing actions. 

These embarrassing displays tarnish nights while requiring early staff intervention to curb disaster through patron removal before authorities involve higher controls. Know personal limits and maintain rational coherence in public bar spaces.  

6. Keep Conversations Light  

The point of going out is having fun, and bars cater to that purpose by facilitating an open, lively environment. Keep dialogue friendly, inclusive, and focused on positive subject matter appropriate for the social setting, unless joining privately intimate discussions or existing debates welcoming multiple perspectives. 

Avoid overly explicit jokes, offensive comments, hate speech, heavy-handed come-ons, graphic overshares, and similar tasteless topics abstaining relevance given the leisure context. Not every opinion warrants sharing amid leisure outlets for escapism pursuits. Read the room and opt for neutral exchanges keeping things upbeat rather than combative.

7. Avoid Potential Fights

Tensions run high when alcohol flows freely in crowded spaces occupied by accidentally inconsiderate strangers. Remain vigilant of surroundings to prevent minor annoyances from escalating into physical confrontations by making a conscious effort to de-escalate subtle issues before they intensify severely. 

Politely alert staff to diffuse subtle disturbances jeopardizing safety rather than launching retaliations to worsening situations. Refuse to engage directly in verbal altercations that aggravate the offended. Apologize for perceived slights, back away from continued exchanges, or carefully excuse yourself from establishments at the first signs of threat if other patrons demonstrate aggressive irrationality suggesting harmful danger could arise if unaddressed. 

Remove from clashing environments altogether by voluntarily leaving to avoid inadvertent violence ultimately punished by law.  

8. Mind Your Manners

Employ basic manners indicating respect for venues by heeding posted instructions and regulations around acceptable guest behavior both inside bars and external perimeter ground limits. 

Avoid disobeying clearly defined house rules on signage regarding aspects like dress code, food policies, indoor/outdoor limitations, smoking and vaping allowances, noise levels after certain hours, occupancy capacities, directions given by staff, pet restrictions, offensive language, private party closures, etc. 

Follow all reasonable guidance communicated by owners and staff tasked with keeping operations smooth. Before taking offense or pleading oblivious ignorance, look for posted notifications meant to guide compliant guest choices suitable for bar enjoyment. Be a gracious patron contributing to the desired atmosphere through good behavior.

Our Final Words

Now that you know the top 9 guidelines dictating proper bar etiquette, you can feel more confident mingling with strangers while avoiding common blunders spoiling nights out. Apply respect, self-control and situational awareness using these baseline rules as your social guide in bars of all types. Practicing conscientious manners, measured drinking behaviors and reasonable personal responsibility keeps the mood flowing smoothly so everyone can revel safely in libations and lively company!