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Being a bartender has its perks (free drinks, good tips, getting to laugh at—and kick out—drunk idiots), but it also comes with its fair share of downsides (and we don’t just mean having to clean up bar mat sludge at 4 a.m.). Below, five bartenders reveal the worst customer experiences of their careers—some creepy, some funny, but all definitely not worth their tips for the night.
1. Family Bonding
“In my youth as a bartender at Studio 54, we saw everything and anything. One night I remember I was up in the VIP bar and [deceased ‘70s television star whose name we’re redacting so we don’t get sued by his estate] comes in with a crew that included his brother and 80-year-old Greek mother dressed in traditional black. [He] just pours a half-ounce of cocaine down on the bar and they all—except the mom—start going to town.” — Arthur, New York
2. That Creepy Uncle
“I had a customer—probably in his 40s and definitely looked like he hadn't seen a dentist in his life—who kept hitting on me throughout the night. He kept vividly describing in vulgar terms why I was beautiful and why I needed to date him. As our bouncer kicked him out, he said he realized that he was into me because I looked exactly like his 15-year-old niece.” — Molly, Des Moines, IA
3. Just Shut Up Already
“On more than one occasion I’ve had to deal with the ‘home’ bartender, and they are the worst. You know—the one who wants to explain in detail the drink they made their friends and how I should make that for them, but how I probably won’t get it right because they have some obscure artisanal bitters that they found somewhere or—even worse—they made themselves by steeping cilantro and watermelon in rum for 12 days. I don’t wanna hear it. Save your horrible ‘Negroni variation,’ which somehow has seven ingredients plus your secret weapon bitters and is served in a wine glass with a watermelon wedge and a straw, for your dinner parties. How about a shot and a beer and we’ll call it a day?” — Matt, New York
4. A Beer Shower
“One night I was waitressing at a sports bar in the West Village and a male customer became enraged when I refused to give him a round of drinks for free and started screaming at me calling me a bunch of uncreative insults. When the female bartender heard him she immediately told him to leave and yelled for security, but before they could get there in time, the guy dumped a full pitcher of beer on her head.” — Deniz, New York
5. #ThanksButNoThanks for the History Lesson
“I bartended during 9/11. The old men at the bar started talking about WWII using some lovely words about ‘Japs’ and then launched into their ideas on Arabs—pronounced 'A-rab,' of course. It was so awkward to be smiling and nodding and trying to be civil. I certainly don’t miss those days of selling my soul for tips.” — Megan, New Brunswick, NJ
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