Ask a Bartender: What's the Worst Bar Behavior You've Ever Witnessed?
Richard Woodruff of Chambers Eat + Drink, San Francisco
Anyone who frequents drinking establishments, no matter how classy, is bound to see some questionable behavior. But given how much time they spend behind the bar, bartenders see the worst of it. We asked bartenders across the country: What's the worst behavior you've ever witnessed at a bar?
Beau du Bois of The Corner Door, LA
"I watched a guy grab the whole oranges (used for peeling) off my bartop and throw them at his friend across the bar. Imagine getting hit with an orange the size of a softball while you're trying to enjoy your Sazerac." — Beau du Bois (The Corner Door)
"I regularly witness bad manners, mostly. As my Granny B used to say 'Sometimes there just ain't no accountin' for other people's children.'" — Richard Woodruff (Chambers Eat + Drink)
"Well, when I used to bartend for the W Hotel we were the home hotel for all of the major league baseball teams that would come to town. Those guys are a mess. All I remember was having to pick up dozens of Bud Light bottles half full of chewing tobacco spit. Disgusting." — Pablo Kovacs (Tin Roof Bistro)
"Ha! It was probably me when I'm on the other side of the bar. I tell you what though, I do really get irked by people who just vandalize things for no apparent reason. It's just a blatant disrespect for the time, thought, and effort that is put into creating something nice." — George Reilly (The Twisted Tail)
"Some guy was smoking weed out of a vaporizer. Without noting it was weed, I politely asked him not to smoke it at the bar. He said it was an 'E-Cigarette' and I replied that still, "We don't use those in here." 5 minutes later I was at the other side of the bar and he made the place smell like Snoop Dogg's playhouse. I asked again that he put it away. He told me 'Calm the f@ck down.' When I hand him his check, he asked if he could apply a negative tip. I told him where the door is." — Justin Fairweather (Evelyn Drinkery)
"The most infuriating thing that comes to mind is the guest that is talking loudly on their cellphone and trying to order at the same time. It's so rude and drives me absolutely insane. That, or flagging down the bartender, then turning 180 to ask friends what they want to order. A woman didn't know what she wanted one night, looks at me, puts a hand up then says "Hold please" and then starts asking her friend what she should order. I wanted to shake her, vigorously." — John Henderson (Scholars, Tavern Road)
"There was this one jackass college-aged kid who walked into the bar after last call. He wanted a drink but we had already started to close down. He proceeded to reach behind the bar and grabbed some piece of equipment, and started swinging it around the bar, laughing at his friends. I had to physically grab him and kick him out." — Dave Kupchinsky (The Eveleigh)
"Grown-ups acting juvenile. I could go on and on with stories and examples, but I'll spare you all. Just please please please, do not use drunkeness as an excuse to be an ass. What's a good time if you don't remember it? Go home. And, because I've been there (we all have), when you do misbehave, return as soon as you can to the venue and apologize to the staff. That's being an adult." — Keith Kenji Cochran (The Narrows,, King Noodle,)
Jason Lam of Sens, San Francisco
"It was New Year's Eve and we were doing bottle service. We had one group arrive at 11:45 pm, right at the height of the rush. By the time they got seated, it was about midnight and they were infuriated that they didn't have their bottle yet. One of the guests came up to me and wanted two free bottles. I told them that wasn't going to happen and he yelled "I'm a customer! You are a SERVANT. SERVE ME! NOW!". I let it go and spoke with one of the more level-headed guests and they understood that they arrived late. In the end I comp'd a round of Champagne and they had a good time." — Jason Lam (Sens)
"I kicked out a guy and girl in my bar for pretty much [redacted] in a booth, and 15 minutes later I was walking down the stairs and saw her giving him a [also redacted]..." — Kevin Peters (Bathtub Gin)
"I once worked at a bar where the owner was in love with tequila. 'In love' so much he would go through a bottle a night! He once fell in to a customer's table and proceeded to throw them out for being angry with him. I moved on from that bar not long after that!" — Jeff Faile (Fiola)
"It's all a bit ridiculous really what goes on inside a bar. It was pretty rude once when an older guy came in with his dog and proceeded to get more drunk, and then lost his phone, pinpointing me as the sole culprit who could have stolen it. This went on for an hour or so before he found his jacket with his phone in its pocket. He had a nice dog though." — Kahil Nayton ( Larry Lawrence, Terminal 5 )
Nate Howell of Cusp Dining & Drinks, San Diego
"When I first started bartending, I had a gentlemen 'relieve' himself on the bar. We did get him to clean it though!" — Nate Howell (Cusp Dining & Drinks)
"The worst behavior I have witnessed at my bar was a guy leaning over the bartop after close (I let the group stay to finish their drinks after we had closed) and grab a bottle of Grey Goose out of the well. I suppose he thought I was too busy counting my drop to notice. He was wrong." — Elizabeth Powell (Liberty Bar)
"I had to jump to the other side of the bar when an angry gent walked in and started throwing punches at my general manager." — Vincent Stipo (Vernick Food & Drink)
"Ten years behind the stick ... it's hard to say. I've seen so many drunks passed out, puking, fighting. I think the worst was watching a kid get shot in the doorway. That was a pretty intense night." — Jen Queen (Saltbox Dining & Drinking)
"I don't think I can legally say the worst behavior I have witness at a bar. Let's just say I have pretty much seen everything possible." — Anthony Bohlinger (Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE)
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