The day has arrived. The busiest drinking night of the year.

On behalf of bartenders everywhere, I’m taking this opportunity to thank the patrons who will make this night bearable, and to apologize to anyone who will undoubtedly see some staff at their worst. This shift will be the longest shift of the year, regardless of how many hours are actually logged. It might also be the most lucrative. If you have never worked this night, or even seen it from the other side of the bar, you could argue that it balances itself out. That is entirely subjective, and dependent on so many variables that I won’t even dare to address.

Your bar staff is going to have their patience tested like no other. They are going to put in more steps than any FitBit could track. They will lose track of how long it has been since they ate or drank, let alone took a bathroom break. Even the best of the best might get snippy or short-tempered. We don’t want to snap at anyone. We don’t want to have to cut you off (this might be a lie for some). And we definitely do not want to make a mistake. But, at some point or another, one of these things will happen. We are human. We apologize to the innocent bystanders.

There will be not-so-innocent bystanders, though. There’s always one. Always.

How do you stay out of the line of fire this Thanksgiving Eve?

How can you enjoy your Thanksgiving Eve with minimal regret, tears, and conflict?

It’s quite simple, really.

  1.      Start a tab.

More than any other night, starting a tab is the best way to get faster service. It is much easier to tell your bartender your last name and have them ring in your order than to wait around for individual credit card transactions for every jager bomb, or watch them break open rolls of quarters. This doesn’t just make our job easier; it actually lets us serve you faster. Win-win situation.

  1.      Order your round in one breath.

Staff are moving fast (even faster if more people abide by the first tip on this list). The minute you turn around to deliberate on what everyone may or may not want to drink, you’re starting to lose our attention. Again, moreso on this night than any other. You’ve lost eye contact. While you are having a deep conversation about draft or bottle, we are scanning again. Looking at who is ready. I have seen bartenders move on to the next customer on a night like this. Whether or not I agree with that, I can certainly understand.

  1.      Treat the bar staff like humans.

We know that you are getting impatient, too. We know that you, and the person next to you, have been waiting. We are trying to get to all of you as fast as we can. Do not slam the bar. Do not whistle at us. Don’t catcall or assign us other pet names. We aren’t your baby, pumpkin, or cutie. Extend the same basic respect to the other bar staff, from security and bar backs, to the food runners and waitresses. In fact, extend the same respect to everyone so you can focus on enjoying your night.

  1.      Get there early to get a seat.

This has nothing to do with the bartenders, and is purely for the newcomers. This isn’t a night that you should spend hours at home pre-gaming and adding to your SnapChat story. Seats fill up fast. Being elbow-to-elbow with everyone in the room isn’t fun. Bars will strictly abide by occupancy limits. It is for the safety of the patrons, and for the business. Officials will be making their rounds, strictly enforcing code. Let’s know forget that last year at least seven bars were shut down in the middle of the Thanksgiving Eve rush because they were over-capacity, or violating other rules.

  1.      Leave before last call.

Rest assured you are not missing anything that impressive at or after last call. You are saving yourself a headache and the risk of making (more) mistakes. Beat the rush. Not just the rush to get that last drop of Tito’s, the rush for the pizza place orders. Get those jalapeno poppers while they are good, and while the deliveries take under 30 minutes.

  1.      Close your tab.

Don’t be that guy doing the walk of shame on Thanksgiving morning or night to pick up your tab because you couldn’t hang on Thanksgiving Eve. Starting a tab isn’t like opening a layaway account. Leaving your tab behind is not excusable for not tipping your servers, either.

  1.      DO NOT DRIVE.

This should go without saying, but just in case you are on the fence, here are a few convincing arguments.

 If you don’t have money to pay for Uber, or Lyft, or Yellow Cab, or a bus, then you probably shouldn’t be out racking up a tab at your local watering hole. And you definitely do not have money to pay for legal fees, fines, a new license, an expensive insurance premium, medical bills, a new car or car repairs.

 Are you one of the “I’ll just leave my car at the bar and get a ride home” types? While this is definitely better than driving home, a few questions. Why worry about someone else damaging it? Or have to get up even earlier Thursday to get a ride back to pick your car up somewhere? And in all too many cases, people start the night off saying they will leave their car overnight, and then swear they aren’t “that drunk” at the end of the night and talk themselves out of leaving their car. Don’t even give yourself the option of driving and leave your car at home

Parking is going to be a nightmare. Save yourself the hassle.

The tow trucks will be out in full force. Nights like this fund their Christmas bonus funds.

Be safe out there. Be kind. Oh, and don’t forget about that holiday spirit stuff, too. On behalf of your bar staff, we appreciate you, we appreciate the tips, and we especially appreciate that first sip of cheer when we get to move to the other side of the bar.

About Pam Martin

Pam Martin is a Worcester native. She earned her bachelor's degree in Communications from Boston University, and works full-time in the wonderful world of marketing and advertising. She can be found behind the bar at Quinn's Irish Pub or the Compass Tavern, where the customers provide more than just tips and laughs, but also most of the material that fuels "Across the Bar with Pam Martin".

2 Responses to “Across the Bar: Very Important Thanksgiving Eve Survival Tips”

  1. J.D.

    If you don’t like the industry you’re working in, then don’t be a bartender. You have all these rules for customers, yet you’re the one serving them and not the other way around. And I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but people don’t walk into bars w/ a plan of how they’re going to go about ordering drinks. God forbid they’re trying to be a good friend and make sure everyone they’re w/ gets a drink, so they have to turn around for two seconds. Oh well. You’re getting a nice tip from them anyways, right? Customers who are rude and call you names to get your attention is one thing, but it’s so ridiculous that you’re basically talking down to people who are putting money in your pocket.

    I also don’t understand why it’s a problem for people to start drinking at home for a little while and then go out. Maybe they want to save money or get the best of both worlds….which is hanging out w/ just a few close friends for a little then spending a night on the town. And what’s wrong w/ SnapChat? Literally everyone has it and I’m not going to assume you have SnapChat, but 100% there are some of your friends that do and will post stories tonight…do you look down on them?

    Also, what if someone was just planning on going out for an hour, and got way too tipsy so they decided to leave their car in the parking lot? What is wrong w/ that? It’s actually being responsible so, oh well, I’d take getting my car dinged up over getting a DUI any day.

    And finally, most of us have jobs. Most of us worked really hard this week too, and skipped lunch to meet deadlines or worked OT, so we want a night out to relax and let loose. There’s no other way to look at this piece….you truly think you’re better than the people you serve. It’s unbelievable.

    • Pedro

      Wow. This guy really takes things to heart. It’s an article with Tips for customers from a bartender’s perspective. You must be theeeeeeee worst type of person to hang out with.


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