Etiquette is the expected standards of polite behaviour and interaction that a guest would expect of a bartender. Etiquette can vary a lot depending on the style of bar you’re working in and the type of guests you’re serving. It can range from extremely elaborate protocol and service procedures in 5-Star environments to casual and relaxed in neighbourhood bars and restaurants. Always make sure you understand the expected etiquette of a place to avoid embarrassing mistakes. You can usually take your cues from other staff but if you are unsure, it is usually a good idea to err on the side of friendly professionalism.
Some basic guidelines that are applicable to most bars:
- Refer to guests as Sir/Ma’am (or a respectful title in your local language if understood by the guest)
- Be respectful of personal space and touching guests if you don’t know them well. A handshake or hand on the shoulder can become powerful (and potentially unwanted) gestures in a formal service environment.
- Always greet a guest within a few moments of them arriving at the bar. Even if you are busy, a simple nod or quick acknowledgement will let them know they will be attended to shortly.
- Always be polite and remember your manners. Use Please and Thank You. Offer to pour drinks. Hold/open doors and allow a guest to go first. Serve ladies first.
- Never ask or pressure a guest for a tip.
- Don’t eat in front of customers, especially not in uniform.
- Don’t use your mobile phone behind the bar.
- Making small talk with guests is a great skill but stay away from sensitive/controversial topics such as politics and religion.
- Don’t eavesdrop or intrude on a guest’s conversation.
- Don’t make sexual advances or suggestive comments towards guests.