Saloon Etiquette & Alone At A Bar


joe brooke_next door lounge

Joe Brooke from Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. Photo by Rachel Burkons

The following guidelines come from an insider, Joe Brooke, who is the head bartender at Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. Interviewed in September 2011’s issue of beverage journal The Tasting Panel, Joe shared some of his on-the-job pet peeves.

I thought I’d share three of them, chosen because I presume they are universal don’ts among bar staff, and because they underscore some basic do’s of bar and lounge etiquette:

– People who take it upon themselves to pick their own garnish out of my trays. It’s rude.

– Impatient people. The worst is when we’re super busy and they see how hard I’m working–and they’re impatient anyway. 

– Guests who leave bags on the bar. You’re taking up precious space. 

On a different but related note, I’ve long cautioned the lone gal against sitting at a bar by herself, my reasoning being a mix of tradition and pragmatism: A woman sitting at a bar alone makes her prey, a green light, for the worst kind of pests imaginable, even if the place is super class. And there are few of us who want to be pestered or annoyed or insulted when we go out. I recommend toting along one, or, better yet, two friends to act as pest buffers if you’re truly yearning to sit at the bar.

There are a few women I’ve known who can pull it off, sitting at a bar alone, and they tend to be gals with strong, pest-repellant personalities who become fast pals with the bartender. Such a woman, a buddy of mine, who travels a lot for business says she hates to be holed up in her hotel room each night, so she will go to the hotel lounge to dine at the bar when she feels like it, but makes sure she clears out by early evening. She adds that she does this only at hotels where there is the assumption that the menfolk will not act like outrageous gnomes. (I had heard a rumor that a hotel chain, popular with business travelers, was toying with the idea of establishing a ladies-only lounge to accommodate female business travelers. Smart.)

Bottom line: As a woman you enjoy every last right as a man when it comes to sitting at a bar and spacing out with your thoughts and a glass of good scotch, but you’ll have a much better time of it, trust me, if you take a seat at a nearby table instead.

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