What Bartenders Think of You

Bartending is a job that employs a lot of different skills. Frequently done under pressure in a chaotic environment, bartending requires a cool head, a good memory, preparation, organization, and seamless execution—not to mention a working knowledge of dozens of techniques, ingredients, and recipes.

In addition to all these requirements, bartenders must also be good at interacting with patrons. A welcoming personality, an ability to listen, and even an ability to "read" customers are traits that separate the great bartenders from the good ones.

The sheer volume and variety of people that most bartenders serve provides bar staff with a unique window into human behavior. Forget the sob stories and the alcohol-fueled rants, most bartenders can tell a lot about you just by the kinds of drinks you order.

Buzzfeed surveyed a bunch of bartenders and asked them what they thought of their customers by the drinks they requested. Here's what some of them said:

When a customer says, "I'll have a shot of tequila," the bartender thinks: This person doesn't have work tomorrow or just got fired.

When a customer says, "I'll have a shot of Fernet," the bartender thinks: This person wants me to think they spent a year in Europe.

When a customer says, "I'll have a scotch and water," the bartender thinks: This 50+ person has heart issues.

When a customer says, "I'll have a Bellini," the bartender thinks: This person has a tab at Olive Garden.

When a customer says, "I'll have a whiskey sour," the bartender thinks: I definitely need to card this person.

When a customer says, "I'll have a Batch on the rocks," the bartender thinks: Wow. This is the smartest, most amazing person I've ever served. [Alright. We admit it. We made this last one up.]

Diane Singer, a veteran bartender writing on the website brandfuel.com, offered her quick take on what drinks reflect about the people ordering them. Here's an edited ("distilled") rundown:

Vodka drinkers: "They love to set trends, and love being part of the action."

Tequila shooters: "Incredibly comfortable in their own skin."

Whiskey drinkers: "Complex and methodical."

Gin drinkers: "Believe in traditional ideas, are mysterious, clever, and know how to get attention."

For the most part, bartenders seem to have the highest respect for the "foundational" spirits (whiskey, bourbon, gin, and tequila—vodka is a toss-up. Many bartenders look down on vodka for its lack of flavor and its inability to add anything of interest to a cocktail recipe. Some high-end craft cocktail bars don't even stock vodka behind their bars).

This respect for the classics seems to influence a bartender's overall impression of you as a customer as well. In general, the more a patron veers away from each of these spirits in their purest form, the less esteem they will enjoy from their bartenders. [This, of course, is a very broad generalization.] So, what's a drink order that usually garners respect from a bartender? Many say it's a simple martini. Or an Old Fashioned. Or a scotch on the rocks.

So, what's a drink that's likely to make bartenders cringe? That would be The Long Island Iced Tea. A "god-awful" cocktail according to New York bartender Santana Buriss, this drink combines vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec, cola, and lemon. Because it contains so many alcohols, an LIIT is usually sweet, potent, and one of the quickest ways to simply get smashed. It also appears to be one of the quickest ways to get your bartender to roll his or her eyes.

Frozen drinks and mojitos are another category that can vex many bartenders, especially during crunch times. They take a good deal of time to prepare (mint for mojitos must be muddled fresh for each drink) and require more attention than most cocktails. Don't expect big smiles from behind the bar when you order six mojitos on a busy Saturday night.

The drinks you order definitely create the first impression a bartender has of you, but plenty of other things can influence that interaction. What are some other forms of customer behavior that give patrons away to bartenders? Well, there's what bartenders call the "Fruit Bat," for example, which is the person who sits at the bar eating the fruit (or olives) that is supposed to be used for garnishes. Then there's the "Snapper" and the "Whistler,"—the universally despised patron that snaps fingers, yells, or whistles to get a bartender's attention. Then there's the customer who takes up an adjacent barstool with a backpack or a purse. Or the one who rips the cocktail napkin up into a million tiny pieces before getting up and leaving. Oh, and don't forget the touchers. Those are the ones who bare their souls to you after a few snorts and start to believe you guys are actually friends.

All of these types of customers tend to make bartenders cranky, and for understandable reasons. If you happen to be a patron who's exhibited one or some of these behaviors in the past, you might want to check yourself. If you don't, you might want to check your next cocktail; there may be something floating in it that you won't like. Cheers!