Mark Yocca / Supercall

12 Unwritten Bar Rules You've Definitely Broken


Let’s face it: We’ve all broken rules while out drinking at a bar. When inebriation begins to take hold, we start to justify our inappropriate behavior. From reaching behind the bar to forgetting to tip the bartender when you leave, these are the 12 unwritten bar rules that you’ve definitely broken—and should never break again.

Reaching Behind the Bar

Even if you’ve known your bartender for 10 years and your kids are best friends at school and your wives meet for brunch every Sunday, you still shouldn’t be reaching behind the bar for anything—even if it’s only a napkin or a straw. Behind the bar is off limits to anyone but the bartender.

Hitting on the Bartender

While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, your efforts to canoodle with the bartender are pointless—and downright rude. It is disrespectful to them and their workplace, regardless of gender. If you ever have the temptation to do it again, just ask yourself: Would I want some stranger to come into my workplace and hit on me while I am trying to do my job?

Breaking a Glass and Not Telling Anyone

Let’s get one thing straight: Glasses break all the freakin’ time in a bar. In fact, bartenders break glasses just as often (if not more so) than customers. While we all are guilty of breaking this rule, it’s crucial to remember to tell someone immediately after you break a glass. Someone, including yourself, could get cut and seriously injured—which is a quick way to ruin a good night.

Making Out at the Bar

We’ll be the first to admit that making out at a bar can seem like a good idea. You’re a bit tipsy, you don’t know if the opportunity will present itself outside the bar, it’s dimly lit, and you decide to go for it. What you probably don’t notice in your passionate fury of kisses is that the entire bar can see you, and secretly hates you for including them, however tangentially, in your heavy petting session. And don’t even think about having sex at the bar. Not only is it unsanitary, but that line of people waiting for you to wrap things up are about two minutes away from breaking the door down and dragging you out.

Talking on Your Cell Phone

A bar is never a quiet place. If you have a phone conversation there, it is almost guaranteed that you will have to shout into the phone for the person on the other end to hear you. Instead of torturing the bar with your piercing screams of “Whaaaat? I can’t hear you!” into the receiver, simply go outside where you can speak and hear clearly.

Hogging the Jukebox

We know that you’re in town for one night only, you’re from New Jersey, and you love the Boss, but that is not reason enough to force everyone in the bar to listen to the complete discography of Bruce Springsteen in one go. A bar is a communal place, where people can go to relax, and everyone in the room gets a say on what plays on the jukebox. If you don’t respect the balance of sharing the bar with others, you’re likely going to get some words from other patrons, or the bartender is going to turn on their own music and make it so no one gets a say.

Using All the TP (or Paper Towels) in the Bathroom and Not Telling Anyone

If you ever in your life have had a roommate or a live-in paramore, you know what a mistake it is to not replace the toilet paper. Sharing a bathroom with strangers at a bar is similar, and requires the same respect. All it takes to not be “that guy” is a quick comment to the bartender or any of the waitstaff to let them know that restrooms need to be restocked.

Standing at the Crowded Bar After You’ve Ordered Your Drink

It is not necessary to stand at the bar and block others from communicating with the bartender after you have ordered and received your drink(s). Step away so that everyone has an opportunity to order, and the bartender can get a drink to everyone that needs one.

Not Reciprocating a Round Bought for You

Unless you’re in dire circumstances (in which the last thing you should be doing is spending money that isn’t yours drinking at a bar), it is always best to reciprocate a gifted drink by buying the next round. If you break this rule more than once, chances are that you won’t have too many people buying you drinks—or friends that will even want to drink with you.

Being Indecisive About Your Order

When you’re at a bar that has a mile-long cocktail menu with a thousand delectable options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on what to drink. But that does not excuse you from making up your mind and ordering a drink. Not only are you holding up the bartender with your indecisiveness, but literally everyone in the bar that hasn’t had their order taken is also waiting for you to make a final choice. You’re ordering a cocktail, not facing Sophie’s choice.

Wearing Inappropriate Attire (and Footwear)

Dude, are your toenails longer than my girlfriend’s acrylic fingernails? Are you not wearing shoes because those razor blades on your toes cut through all your shoes and socks? Whatever the case, go get yourself a mani-pedi and put on a pair of loafers. Not only is it unseemly, but your lack of proper shoes is also a danger to yourself. You know that guy that broke a glass in here 10 minutes ago? Well, it's dark in here and they accidentally missed that big chunk of a beer bottle that’s about to embed itself into your foot. There’s a reason those “no shirt, no shoes, no service” signs exist, and it’s not just because we don’t enjoy seeing your dad bod in a midriff tee.

Tipping Your Bartender Less Money Than You Should Have (or Not At All)

Math is difficult enough when you’re sober, but trying to figure out percentages after a few rounds can be a downright nightmare. We’ve all committed this atrocity against the serving community, and it wasn’t because we’re assholes or trying to screw someone out of an honest living. It was a mistake, and to make amends for it, we will never, ever, ever under-tip a bartender again. If you continue to commit this grievous offense, you’ll most likely be banned from every bar in town. Bartenders talk, and they will have your name memorized after you stiff them for the third time on a $200 bar tab.

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