Monday, February 11, 2008

Bar Question

I don't frequent bars. If you're part of the after work crowd in a NYC bar - where nobody knows your name - and you have three beers (which I'm figuring an adult male can handle without getting tipsy) do you pay for each beer individually as they are served or does the server bring a bill for the three drinks after you call them over and ask for the check?

As you may imagine, this is a point in the next novel I'm writing. Not a major one, but it might be so minor that getting it wrong will just make me look dumb.


Blogger Terrie Farley Moran said...


If you are standing/sitting at the bar, you put your money in front of you. Put up more than enough to pay for what you will most likely drink, the tip and some left over, so you can grandly pull those bills (never touch coins) off the bar to announce your imminent departure without a word. Once you pull your money away, you put what's left (the tip) either under your glass (That's what I like to do.) or push the cash to the little ledge on the bartender's side of the bar. (It's an inch or two lower than the bar and usually less than six inches wide.)

The bartender will take the cash for each drink and deposit your change in front of you on top of your money. After the second or third drink, the barkeep may put an upside down whiskey glass in front of you. That means the next drink is on him and is called a buyback.

Or you could just say, "Run a tab." Then the bartender will hold your bill aside until you ask for it. You can pay cash or credit if the place takes credit cards. If you charge the drinks, tip the man behind the stick (bartender) in cash.

If your protag is having three beers and you want him sober, he better have eaten recently or have him munching on bar nuts or the free happy hour buffet, which can be anything from hot dogs to pasta to cheese and crackers.

I hope this helps and I hope the bar is a dive. I do so love dives.


February 12, 2008 2:25 AM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

I will come to Terrie with all bar questions in the future!

February 12, 2008 8:22 AM  
Blogger Patricia J. Hale said...

Yeah, Terrie left me wondering what her drinker is going to do next and who the man behind the stick is!

A dive in a Steven Torres book sounds like heaven.

February 12, 2008 8:55 AM  
Blogger Terrie Farley Moran said...

Thank you! Thank you! Please hold your applause until it's your turn to buy a round! ;)


February 12, 2008 10:08 AM  
Blogger Clare2e said...

Terrie told me there was a convo for recovering bartenders here, but she seems to have done the job.

My two cents? If it's a busy rush hour place- mine was- people were catching quick tipples before their trains out and tended to toss the money down for each and tip as they went, just in case they had to run or met a pal and wandered away to a table. My longest stint was at a downtown bar near Chicago's Union Station. If people wanted a tab, they tended to pass over credit cards that I lined up with their receipts on the back bar until they closed out. We tended not to work off a cash deposit much, because it was too fast and grabby around, though the money and the change went on the ledge, just like Terrie said. We also did buybacks, but whimsically and without the shot glass signal in advance. The hit-or-missness of our buybacks and our latitude with them allowed us to reward our favorites, good tippers, and those who obviously needed a dose of unexpected goodwill. People appreciated them more as a gesture (and tipped accordingly) when they weren't guaranteed.

We had regulars from the office buildings above and nearby, and I would've been casual with letting them rack up a couple drinks without ringing up while being more attentive to the strangers. Once the fury's past, you can catch up with the friendlies.

For my little local joint, drinking from a twenty on the bar was more common, but all of that stage business was more for regular and career drinkers in uncrowded and familiar settings, in my experience. People tended to run a tab most when they were expecting company.

February 12, 2008 11:55 AM  
Blogger Clare2e said...

Oh yeah, three beers in less than an hour will start to show an affect unless the guy's huge or acclimated, if you know what I mean. Two beers, no problem, I'd say.

February 12, 2008 11:57 AM  

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