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Scientists found that the best way to stand to get served was square to the bar, head forward
Scientists found that the best way to stand to get served was square to the bar, head forward

Bartenders share their five top tips for getting served

Tired of waiting for that glass of wine? Wait no longer

Victoria Richards
Wednesday 14 October 2015 10:46
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It can be tough, endlessly waiting to be served behind the guy who asks for a beer, only to remember that actually, he'd quite like a glass of wine as well, and hang on – once the bartender has finished getting those, why doesn't he add a cheeky Guinness? And some nuts. And an orange juice. And five glasses of tap water. And come to think of it, a food order.... for ten.

Queuing up in a busy bar or pub on a Friday or Saturday night can feel like a lesson in invisibility; a one-way, thirst-fuelled path to a full-blown, existential, "am I really here? Do any of us actually exist?" crisis. But panic no more, for here are five ways to make your presence known, and to get those G&Ts in your hand sooner than it's physically possible to say "ice and a slice".

1. Make eye contact

"There's no need to be needy and pushy, but you can make eye contact and smile, even if you're standing behind someone," says Rosamund Hall, co-founder of Burgess and Hall. "Bartenders will appreciate you acknowledging that they're busy and that they're trying to get to you as quickly as they can. And if it's taking a while to get served, don't get annoyed, just enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of the place you're in and hopefully the drink will be worth the wait."

2. Get to know your local

"The staff will recognise you and you're likely to get served more quickly," Rosamund says. "Plus, you might get offered personalised cocktails, or off-list menus, or just concoctions that are suited to your tastes. You might not even have to order if bartenders already know your favourite drink." After all, just like in iconic American TV show Cheers, it's great to go to a bar "where everybody knows your name.... and they're always glad you came...."

3. Be polite

Olly Brading, co-owner of The Cocktail Trading Company, recently told Time Out: 'It sounds simple, but good manners don't cost a penny, and that's usually what's missing if someone doesn't get served straight away."

He explains that when you have someone muscling in, with two elbows on the bar, waving a note in your face, that's likely to put a lot of bartenders off. And he says that it also helps to know your order when a bartender comes to you - if it's busy and you stand there "umming" and "aahing", they'll probably go and serve someone else, and you'll be back to square one. "It's just about good manners and good communication," he says. "Decent bar etiquette, basically."

4. Have a look of urgency about you

A Reddit thread which asked bartenders the best ways to get served suggested "having a look of urgency about you – "like you need to go to the bathroom real bad". Contrary to what you may think, holding out or waving money doesn't help. One user, a bartender named berTolioliO, says: "I don't care how much money you have in your hand waving it at me, because the person next to you was probably there before you and has been waiting patiently." Other top-rated suggestions on the forum included tipping your bartender, or offering to buy them a drink (even if they don't take it right then and there, they could use it after they finish their shift).

5. Think about your body language

In 2013, scientists examined the behaviour of customers in nightclubs and identified the key elements of body language that appeared to increase your chances of being served before everyone else. They reported that the tactic with the greatest success was to stand squarely to the bar, head forward, and to look directly at the barman as they move around – rather than talking to friends, looking at a menu or trying to squeeze in between other customers. The findings, which were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, were used as a means of looking at developing a robotic bartender.

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