12 Bar Etiquette To Follow

Bar Etiquette
When at a bar, be respectful to others and the staff. Don't shout or snap fingers to get attention. Order drinks one at a time and wait your turn. Don't hog the bar or chairs. Tip well and be mindful of your alcohol intake. Have fun but drink responsibly.

1. Dress Right

The appropriate attire for a bar varies depending on the type of bar and the atmosphere it cultivates. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Casual bars: Men can wear jeans or khakis with a button-up shirt. Women can wear jeans or shorts with a casual top or a sundress.
  • Sports bars: Wearing a jersey or t-shirt representing your favorite team is often a good choice.
  • Trendy bars: Men should wear dress pants or dark jeans with collars or a stylish t-shirt. Women should wear a dress or skirt with a stylish top.
  • Cocktail bars: Men should wear a suit or a dress shirt with dress pants. Women should wear a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt with a blouse.

Tips for dressing to impress at a bar:

  • Know the dress code: Before heading to a bar, know the dress code to avoid underdressing or overdressing.
  • Keep it simple: When in doubt, a classic outfit is always a safe choice, showing that you put effort into your appearance.
  • Pay attention to grooming: Style your hair, clean your nails, and polish your shoes.

2. Order Politely

There are specific terms used in the bar industry to describe different types of drinks and how they are prepared. For example, a “neat” drink is served without ice, while a “rocks” drink is served over ice. 

A “martini” is made with gin or vodka and vermouth, and a “manhattan” is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

When ordering a drink, specify the type of liquor you want. For example, if you want a gin and tonic, say, “Can I get a gin and tonic with Tanqueray?” 

If you’re ordering a mixed drink, be specific with your mixer. Avoid ordering time-consuming mixes like the old-fashioned if you’re in a crowded bar. 

Bartenders are often busy and may have multiple time-consuming orders to fulfill. Avoid snapping your fingers, whistling, or shouting to get the bartender’s attention. Instead, make eye contact and wait until they can take your order.

3. Tip In Cash And Generously

The standard bar tipping etiquette is to tip between 15-20% of the total cost of your drinks. However, some factors can influence how much you should tip.

If you received exceptional services, such as the bartender remembering your name, you should tip closer to 20% or even more. If the service was slow or the bartender wasn’t friendly or attentive, you may feel more comfortable tipping closer to 15%.

To calculate the tip correctly, you can follow these simple steps:

  • Determine the total cost of your drinks, including any tax or additional fees.
  • Decide on the percentage you want to tip. As mentioned earlier, 15-20% is standard, but you can adjust this based on the quality of service you received.
  • Multiply the total cost of your drink orders by the percentage you want to tip. For example, if your drinks cost $50 and you want to tip 20%, you would multiply $50 by 0.20, giving you a tip of $10.
paying with card in bar
Paying and tipping with card in a bar

Note that if you’re paying for your drinks with a credit card, you should calculate your tip based on the total cost of your drinks before any taxes or fees. The best way to tip a bartender is by cash

4. Drink In Moderation

Pacing yourself while drinking is crucial because alcohol affects everyone differently. It can impair your judgment and coordination, leading to potentially dangerous situations.

The following are some tips on how to pace yourself while drinking:

  • Set a limit for yourself: Before you start drinking, decide how many drinks you will have and stick to it.
  • Drink slowly: Sip your drink rather than gulping it down quickly. 
  • Alternate with non-alcoholic drinks: Drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages in between alcoholic drinks will help you stay hydrated and slow down your alcohol consumption.

Here are some signs that you should stop drinking:

  • When you start feeling the effects of alcohol, such as slurred speech, impaired coordination, and blurred vision
  • If you start feeling dizzy or disoriented
  • If you’ve set a limit for yourself and have reached that limit

5. Respect Is Key

men and women in bar
men and women having fun in bar

When interacting with other bar patrons, be polite and respectful. When you approach someone, start with a friendly greeting and introduce yourself. Give people their personal space and avoid getting too close or touching them without consent.

Listen to what others say and engage in a conversation that interests them. Avoid talking only about yourself or dominating the conversation. Avoid using offensive language or making derogatory comments about other bargoers. If you disagree with someone, express your opinion respectfully.

Just like in strip clubs, your behavior and language in a bar setting can impact other patrons and the atmosphere. It can also impact your reputation among other patrons and the staff. 

6. Respect The Staff

Showing respect and appreciation to bartenders, barbacks, and other staff is mandatory.  If the bartender introduces themselves, use their name when addressing them. It shows that you respect and acknowledge them as an individual.

Express gratitude for their service by saying “thank you.” Be patient and understanding, as they are likely doing their best to serve everyone.

Handling complaints or issues with the bar staff constructively and respectfully is crucial for a positive resolution. Communicate the issue you are experiencing, and provide as many details as possible. 

There are several ways to get the attention of a bar attendant:

  • Make eye contact with the bartender and hold their gaze for a few seconds. This can signal to them that you are ready to order.
  • Politely raise your hand to signal that you would like to order.
  • If you are standing far away from the bar, move closer to the bar to signal that you are ready to order.
  • Some bars have bells or buzzers that you can use.

7. Share The Space

When sharing space with other patrons, be considerate and respectful. Don’t hog the space. Don’t spread out your belongings or take up more space than necessary. 

Avoid blocking the bartender. When ordering drinks, try to position yourself in a way that doesn’t block the bartender’s path.  Bar staff often carry drinks and other items and need enough space to move around safely. Therefore, avoid standing in the way.

8. Smoking Or Vaping Indoors Is A No-no

In many countries, smoking indoors in public places, including bars and restaurants, has been banned due to health concerns related to secondhand smoke. Vaping is also regulated in many places, and some jurisdictions have banned it in indoor public places.

Here are some tips for finding a suitable location:

  • Check for designated smoking areas: Many bars have designated smoking areas, such as outdoor patios or rooftop decks. Look for signage indicating where smoking is permitted.
  • Ask staff: If you are unsure where smoking is allowed, ask a staff member. 
  • Consider stepping outside: If smoking or vaping is not permitted indoors, consider doing it outside. 

9. Minimize Phone Use

Cell phones are an important part of our lives, but they don’t need to be the center of attention at the bar. It’s acceptable to check your phone if you’re waiting for a friend’s text or call. If you need to take a call or respond to a text, step away from the bar area and find a quiet spot.

Being present and attentive is vital when engaging with other patrons at the bar. One of the best ways to do this is to make eye contact and smile at those around you. Strike up a conversation with someone nearby by asking for a drink recommendation or commenting on the atmosphere.

10. Keep It Tidy

Bar staff is often busy, and it is important to be considerate of their time and efforts. By keeping your area clean and tidy, you are helping them to maintain a clean and welcoming environment for all customers.

Be sure to dispose of any trash in the designated bins. This makes it easier for the staff to clear the table and allows other customers to sit and enjoy their drinks without moving dirty dishes out of the way.

11. Mind Your Volume

When you enter a bar, take a moment to observe the place’s noise level and general vibe. Adjust your volume accordingly, keep your voice conversational, and avoid shouting or screaming.

Larger groups tend to be louder and more boisterous. If you’re in a big group, ensure everyone knows the noise level and try to keep the volume down.

Alcohol can lower inhibitions and make people louder and more disruptive. Know your limits and drink responsibly to avoid getting too loud. 

12. Exit Gracefully

Leaving a bar at the right time can help you avoid dangerous situations like fights, assaults, and accidents. It also prevents overconsumption and reduces the risk of alcohol-related health problems.

Here are some signs that it’s time to leave a bar:

  •  If you’re feeling drunk, leave the bar. 
  • When the bartender announces the last call, wrap up your evening. 
  • If you’ve been at the bar for hours and lost track of time, it’s good to call it a night. 
  • If you’re involved in an argument or confrontation or witness one, it’s common sense to leave. 
  • If you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsafe in any way, it’s time to leave.

What Does Knocking On The Bar Mean?

Knocking on the bar means the bartender appreciates your tip. You’ve gotten a free drink if the bartender serves you a drink and knocks on the bar.

Is It Rude To Sit at a Bar and Not Order Alcohol?

It’s not rude to sit at a bar and not order alcohol. People go to bars for various reasons, and not everyone drinks alcohol. Some people may go to socialize with friends, enjoy the ambiance, or have a non-alcoholic drink.

What is the Difference Between a Pub and a Bar?

A bar has a dance floor, loud music, and alcoholic beverages for sale.Pubs are more British and provide alcoholic beverages in a calm setting with calming music and food.
This establishment offers little to no food and caters more to those who enjoy drinking.They have a vast selection of snacks to go with the drinks.
Bars draw a younger generation.Pubs draw the older generation.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

Recent Posts