10 Ways to Spot a Bad Bartender

These are the best ways to spot a bad bartender, and to avoid purchasing a not-so-great drink you could have made yourself at home.

10 Ways to Spot a Bad Bartender

Maybe they're a rookie, or maybe they simply don't care about their job, no one wants to get the worst bartender in the club. And as some of the best ways to spot a bad bartender, these tricks will help you avoid spending $5 to $20 on a single drink that you could have made better at home.

Plus, much like anyone working in the food and drinks business, you want to put trust into your bartender to not only make you a great drink, but to be sanitary while doing so. Steer clear from bartenders who have any of these tendencies.

They touch the rim of the glass.

A bartender touching the rim of your glass one hundred percent a red flag, and you might want to avoid that bar at all costs. This is because this is one of the number one rules for all bartender, and all employees who work with food or drinks.

And as our first way to spot a bad bartender, touching the rim of the glass can not only transfer germs, but allows you to recognize how unsanitary that bartender is, so who knows what they're doing behind the bar. Plus, it's pretty easy to avoid this at all costs. Bartenders must avoid using "the claw" method to pick up glasses, touching the inside of the glass with their fingers. Just carry it from the bottom!

They google how to make every drink.

If your bartender has to google how to make an Old Fashioned, you're in the wrong bar. Or at the very least, you've chosen the wrong bartender. As one of the best ways to spot a bad bartender, they should definitely avoid using their phone.

Just cell phone use overall is a great indicated that your bartender doesn't really care about their customers. But not knowing even the basic recipes for your drinks is definitely not a good sign, and you're better off trying with another bartender, or a better bar altogether.

They refuse to make you a specific drink.

It is one thing for a bartender to be blunt with you about not knowing how to make your bizarre sounding drink, but outright refusing to give you a shot is a sign that your bartender doesn't care much about you as a customer, but rather just the effortlessness of his or her job, and your tip.

There are some complex cocktails out there, and your bartender most likely knows how to make a decent amount of them, so when they refuse to make you a drink, this is a bad sign for the bar, and for the service.

They scoop ice with the glass.

Next, on the best ways to spot a bad bartender is that they scoop ice with the glass, rather than using a proper ice scoop.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it is actually a huge sign that your bartender is not careful at all. This is because scooping ice with the glass can lead to the glass breaking, and the shard of broken glass hiding in the ice tray. And what does that mean for you? You also get a helping of glass with your drink, for free!

They have obviously been drinking on the job.

A drunk bartender might be a fun one, but one that is obviously very sloppy with their work and with their interactions is not a great sign of a good bartender.

Drinking on the job might seem like a cliché when it comes to bartending, but being blatantly drunk is not a good way to go, especially if you're a rookie, and don't exactly know your ways around the job quite yet.

They are more concerned with their conversations with the other bartenders than their customers.

Bartenders are obviously some of the most outgoing people, having to spend all night conversing with new people and customers, but a great way to spot a bad bartender is the fact that they are more concerned with entertaining their fellow bartenders than their customers.

Much like a bartender who is glued to their phone, being glued to their friends, or even to specific customers, is not a good message to give across.

The way they garnish a drink is with a bunch of gross looking fruit.

Garnishing a drink lazily is one of the most obvious ways to guess that your bartender could really care less. That's mostly due to the fact that it's hard to garnish wrong.

And really, if a drink doesn't normally come with a lemon on the side, it shouldn't. So they're either trying to compensate for something, or really don't know what to do. Plus, how hard can it be to cut up a few piece of fruit to look nice?

Their beer pouring overflows every time.

Mastering beer pouring is one of the first things that bartenders learn in their profession. So either they're a complete newbie, or they don't care about the fact that once you grab your drink, it will spill across the floor until you reach your destination.

And as one of the best ways to spot a bad bartender, you should always touch the inside of the glass with the draft faucet, this way it'll never run over the brim, and you'll get as full of a glass as possible.

They simply seem unorganized.

A bartender who seems stressed is a great indicator that you too should be stressed, about the quality of your drink. Though clearly bartending in a busy bar is a very stressful job, appearing unorganized and chaotic is not a great sign.

However, you should cut your bartenders some slack if they are overwhelmed by a huge crowd, because who wouldn't be? Just be more aware of the task that they take on while making your drink, because it could be a bit half-assed.

Their bar countertop is a mess.

Last, but not least, on our list of the best ways to spot a bad bartender, is the fact that their bar's countertop is a complete mess.

You can't even put a napkin down because it will dissolve into beer and who knows what. Keeping the bar sanitary and welcoming is another one of the bartender's jobs, and failing to do so should alert you that your money might be spent better elsewhere. Plus, who really wants to be offered a drink through slush and dirt?

Sherry Campbell
Sherry Campbell
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Sherry Campbell

Second grade teacher by day, at home therapist for two middle school daughters by night.

See all posts by Sherry Campbell