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A student bartenders' guide to swifter service

4th May 2012

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You can’t have it both ways. If the nightclub is busy, then the chances are the bar will be busy too. No one enjoys standing in a queue, but then again, no one wants to miss out on the chance to enjoy a drink on their night out.

Happy drinkersI’ve spent plenty of time stood on both sides of the bar; neither experience is as enjoyable when the queue is longer than your dissertation. But, as sure as the sun will rise before you do, if the venue is packed, then you will have to stand and queue for much longer then you would have liked.

Don’t let the idea of queuing put you off. It doesn’t have to be quite so soul-destroying. There are plenty of ways to speed the process along, earning you more to enjoy the rest of your night.

Plan your approach:

Your positioning is important. Get it right and you will soon be toasting to a good night ahead. Get it wrong, and you could miss out on quite a bit of it, maybe even that song you like and that special person you were hoping to share it with.

Examine the shape and the movement of the queue before you join it. Identify the quietest part of the bar and make sure that the bar staff are paying it adequate attention to it before committing yourself.

Avoid queuing near big groups of friends, as they will no doubt aid each other’s movement and encourage the bar staff to serve their friends before allowing them to  move on.

Move with precision:

Keep your eyes peeled. Maintain a good awareness of your surroundings, looking for potential gaps emerging as people prepare to collect their drinks.

Note the lines in which the bartenders are serving. Most bar staff will serve in a straight line to avoid complaint.Examine the bar for out for potential meeting points and try to arrive there before they do. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.

Aim for the tills if possible, this means that the bar staff will pass you quite regularly, giving you plenty of chances to catch their attention. Many bartenders will seek out their next customer during or straight after dealing with their current order.

Get yourself noticed:

When you do arrive at the front of the queue, you will need to capture the attention of the bar staff, make sure do so for the right reasons. If you can, bring a couple of empty glasses back with you, making sure that you are seen to place them on the bar. The staff will appreciate the gesture are likely to be drawn towards you.

Try to take up plenty of space, making it easier for the bar staff to pick you out. This will also help to minimise the number of people competing against you, having been crammed into a small space. Smile and make yourself approachable; for a bartender, it is much more tempting to serve someone who is smiling at you as opposed to someone who is scowling and hurling abuse.

The words ‘‘Oi!’’ and ‘‘I’ve been here for half an hour’’ won’t cut a lot of ice with the bar staff I’m afraid. You haven’t been there for ‘‘half an hour’’, neither had the last 100 people who told them that. In any case, you’re not still there because the bar staff aren’t trying to serve people as quickly as possible.

Don’t wave your money around either. It doesn’t matter if you are holding a nice crisp twenty pound note; no one is going to be impressed. If anything, this will just make the bar staff think that you are waiting to make a large order, the lazier ones may be reluctant to serve you because of this.

One method is to point to another customer as the bartender scans through the crowd. This has been known to work wonders. Having drawn the bartender towards you, the chances are that you will be next in line for their attention. No bartender will move on without serving someone who appears to have sacrificed their chance position in the queue for someone else.

Keep your eyes on the prize:

Don’t allow yourself to getdistracted. Remember, most bartenders serve in straight lines, moving their way across a large portion of the bar. If you miss your place, then you could find yourself waiting for quite a while longer.

Leave a reason to look out for you:

Manners are not unnecessary. When someone does come to serve you, make sure you ask for your drinks clear and politely, using ‘‘please’’ and ‘‘thank you’’ in-between your smiles.

Make sure you know what it is you want before someone attempts to serve you, if you start messing them about, the bartenders are likely to move onto the next customer, leaving you waiting for quite a while longer.

If you happen to be a good looking girl approaching a male bartender, then you already have a good advantage. There is nothing like a little bit of flirting to help you along your way.

Follow these tips and you will be back on the dance floor before you know it, ignore these warnings, and you could find yourself subject to the less pleasurable side of a student night out, that is, the task of standing in a never-ending queue for the bar.  

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