Published on August 30th, 2012 | by Nature Humphries


Bar Strategy 101: Surviving the Oxford Square


Maybe you’re a seasoned bar hopper. Or maybe you just celebrated your 21st and are ready to hit the ground running. Either way, there are some unspoken rules when it comes to bar behavior. I’ve been slinging drinks in this town long enough to know that plenty of people have bad habits in the bar.

The Square is a great place to go out and have a good time, and there are going to be nights when every place in town is packed. Getting a drink can be frustrating when there’s a mob of people fighting for the bartenders’ attention. You’re going to need some patience, but there are ways to get fast service. Get to know your bartender, be friendly, and good things will happen. Read on for some important tips that your bartender wishes you knew.



  • Tip well. I’ll remember you and will probably be more inclined to serve you faster than that a-hole who stiffed me the last three times they got a drink.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.” Good manners will get you far in life.
  • Have your money ready when you order. I’ve had people hand me balls of wadded up cash. It’s just going to take more time to flatten it out so I can put it in the register.
  • Remember to eat before you go out drinking. If you start on an empty stomach, you’re just asking for trouble.


  • Make a big deal about getting a bartender’s attention and then not have your order ready. If you’ve been waving at me and I come to take your order, be ready. Don’t turn around to ask your five friends what drinks they want.
  • Reach across the bar for any reason. You want a lime? Ask for one. It is incredibly rude to reach into the fruit tray, and I really don’t know how clean your fingers are.
  • Touch your bartender. Please, unless I know you intimately, keep your hands to yourself.
  • Yell my name repeatedly. Even if we’re good friends, it’s annoying. I see you. I promise I will serve you as soon as I can.
  • Put your big ass purse on my bar. If there are hooks screwed into the bar, that’s what they are for. Plus, if it’s really busy and crowded, you’re going to wind up with some spillage on your bag.
  • Ask me to “hook you up.” I know how to make a good drink. If you get served something unacceptable, then I’ll fix it, but it’s insulting for you to ask me before I’ve even made it.
  • Expect a free drink just because you spilled yours.
  • Leave your drink unattended, please! I will likely toss it if it’s been sitting on the bar for too long. Safety first!
Know Your Bartender: Brett Stevens of The Library (from TLV #163)
The Christian Agnostic: "On Homosexuality" (by Brandon Michael Williams)

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About the Author

Nature Humphries is Editor-in-Chief of The Local Voice. Nature is originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, but moved to Oxford in 2004 after spending time in the United States Navy. She has also worked in the restaurant industry for many years as a server and a bartender. Nature graduated from Ole Miss in 2007 with a degree in English and Modern Languages.

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