Sipping on Water and Juice

Last night, I was at a bar (everybody in life makes choices).  A dude came up and ordered a soda and got his soda and left,  and the girl next to me said, “Why would you come to a bar if you don’t drink?” And I said, “Well, that’s not fair. There’s lots of reasons lots of people don’t drink, but that shouldn’t keep you from hanging out at bars … right?” I looked at the bartender.

He said, “Sure. Some people come in and don’t drink, but not that many. Usually they’re here with a group of people, and they’ll just get soda water or something.” And then he said, “It’s the same as when you come in and only get one drink and then nurse it for awhile—I’m happy to have you sit with a drink, that’s totally fine.”

And I think he meant that maybe, but I think also maybe it’s possible he absolutely did not mean that?!

It hadn’t even occurred to me that ordering one drink or ordering only a soda water with cranberry juice—which I do sometimes in the name of money and health and productivity—was a bad thing!? I always sort of figured a drink is a drink and tip is a tip, but it never occurred to me that maybe this was problematic. I love hanging out at bars. I like being around humans. Are bars really ONLY for people with drinking problems?! HALP.

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32 Comments / Post A Comment

sally (#917)

That is a bartender who is unclear on his basics.

olivia (#1,618)

Who cares if the bartender meant it or not? Instead of obsessing about this, work on getting comfortable enough with yourself to avoid this type of second guessing. I’m not snarking, but I don’t get why this even warrants a post! Order what you want.

sintaxis (#2,363)

@olivia agreed! this seems to be a manifestation of unhealthy ruminations about money and the way other people perceive your spending.

Bill Fostex (#573)

Frostie®: The Official Beverage of The Billfolds.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

When I was used to tend bar I was always aware of the turnover on the bar stools. If someone sits with a happy hour beer for an hour, he could be taking the place of a regular, or someone who orders more than a 3 dollar draft.
If people the average customer tips 20% and minimum one dollar per drink, than that guy is paying one dollar an hour it sit at the bar stool. If someone else gets 2 five dollar beers and one 9 dollar whiskey, his cost for the space (service too, of course) is significantly higher. Also, you like to have room for your regulars who consistently come in and essentially make the job sustainable.

@Will Murphy This is very reasonable! Thank you!

jfruh (#161)

@Logan Sachon it is but it also … isn’t? I mean, yes, obviously, not every customer a business has is going to be equally profitable. But, you know, if you don’t want people ordering a happy hour beer, then don’t offer happy hour beers, and if you don’t want people nursing drinks at the bar for an hour, set policies that you can only sit there for so long.

I can see that sitting at a bar for a long time if you’re not ordering more stuff is kind of a dick move if there are other people waiting to sit. But if not, sit there all you want, I say.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

@Logan Sachon That being said, I never knew of a bartender who disliked people drinking N/A drinks at the bar–or even charge for it. Usually we just assume that they are just being responsible for their companions.
As Olivia says, order whatever you want. If you’re at a bar than someone is spending money. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

@Will Murphy @jruh i adore both of you thank you

jfruh (#161)

@Will Murphy ….aaaand now that I reread this I realize you’re talking from the perspective of the bartender, not the bar owner, sorry to sound like a dick. Yes, if you lurk at the bar for extended periods of time, tip like you’re drinking more than you are.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

@jfruh I get it. Happy hour is the worst. Most bartenders don’t set pricing or specials, they just serve them. The owners/managers usually just check labor reports and total sales, not how though sales came in.
Also, no bar would create a policy to make people drink faster, and then the bartenders would lose the chance to create regulars if you could only sit at the bar for XX amount of time.

And I meant to say, happy hour WAS the worst. Now that I don’t work at a bar it is the best.

Lily Rowan (#70)

But seriously — like nearly any food and drink location, how much time/money is reasonable to spend depends on if someone is waiting to take your seat. And tip well, especially if you intend to go back to the place.

Spending an hour splitting a side of fries is fine, if the diner is empty.

@Will Murphy Top tip: be a regular at as many places as possible!

jfruh (#161)

Isn’t the markup on fountain soda even more ludicrous, percentage-wise, than the markup on booze?

probs (#296)

@jfruh yes, but few bars will charge you for a soda.

Megano! (#124)

@probs I have never been to one.

@Megano! Every bar I go to in the SF Bay Area charges for soda. But it’s usually nice soda so that’s probably part of it.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@KathleenD@twitter Agreed, I have always been charged for sodas at bars, and usually it’s just from the fountain. Why shouldn’t they charge for soda?

mishaps (#65)

@probs where are these bars? I have never been in one.

@probs yes, please tell me where the free soda bars are!

DON (#706)

No matter what your profession, you will inevitably not be paid for work you’ve done. No one is entitled to certain behavior from their customers. Customer is always right, etc, etc.

allreb (#502)

I guess I kind of consider this akin to folks who sit around coffeeshops either hanging out for long periods of time, or setting up a laptop to do work. There’s nothing wrong with doing either of those things! But at a certain point it’s a little rude to keep taking up space when other folks are purchasing things – how much time did your $2.50 coffee buy you? Ages ago when I worked at a business mag and working in coffee shops was starting to become a serious Thing, the recommendation was to buy a drink/baked good/something at least once an hour you were there, to continue supporting the space where you’re working/interacting with other humans/hanging out/whatever.

idk what the bar equivalent of that would be, but I think it’s a nice idea – if you’re drinking soda, cool, or hanging out for awhile because you like the atmosphere, great, but think about those things part of the bar’s business (instead of just the booze) and consider buying another drink to pay for them, instead of nursing one; or tip extra on your soda to support what it is you enjoy about the place. There’s nothing that says you have to, and people probably won’t notice or judge you if you don’t, but if you’re able to, it’s a nice thing to do.

@allreb In France you pay a different price for coffee if you want to drink at the bar, sit at a table, or take it to go. Why not sell $6 coffees to people who want to sit and use wifi all day? Makes sense right?

sox (#246)

I tend to tip similarly whether I’m drinking soda water, juice or beer – usually $1/drink. When its like a $12 marg or other mixed drink requiring more time and effort, more tip makes sense.
Same in coffee shops. I tend to consider time, effort, and busy-ness of establishment in my tipping and space occupancy.

OhMarie (#299)

My dad is a lifelong non-drinker and huge fan of an out-of-town football team, and he has developed a good thing with the bartenders at the bar closest to his house. He goes there to watch all of the Steelers games he doesn’t get at home, drinks nothing but Diet Coke, and doesn’t even bring any drinkers with him. He does tip in a kind of bar way (like $1 per drink) rather than the full-bill way you would in a restaraunt, though.

readyornot (#816)

Fact I just learned this week: Jason Suedikis from SNL is the nephew of George Wendt, actor who played Norm on Cheers. Did you guys know that? Enjoy the Frostie®, Norm!

janestreet (#1,123)

Whenever I see people NOT drinking in a bar, I like to think that they do have a drinking problem. Not because that makes them weak or a problem-person, but because that makes them bloody strong. They’ve faced addiction and they’re hanging out in the BEAST’S HOUSE and it doesn’t phase them. So, be that person sometimes, even if it isn’t your demon, it’s a demon. And rejecting it is kind of powerful all around. Everyone should respect that person.

I don’t drink but I do spend a lot of time in bars and the bartenders who know me don’t charge me for my soda and I, in turn, tip them handsomely. I think that works out best for everyone. (Except maybe the management? I dunno but I doubt that watered down soda costs them very much.)

BlackAndBlueMan (#2,773)

I’ve never been much of an alcohol drinker, so it’s never bothered me that some people at bars and pubs don’t drink booze.

And as for folks who occupy a space for a long time and nurse only one purchase, that doesn’t bother me either. I’m a long-time occupier myself – but if the person in question is a regular and especially not causing any trouble, I don’t see a problem (perhaps I’d think differently if I was the business owner, but I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it).

Some places in the US don’t charge for non-alcoholic drinks? Wow!

Whit@twitter (#2,413)

I used to roll with cool Mormons, who would come to bars, get soda or club soda (with lime, hard core!) and they’d always tip a buck. I think if you were sitting by yourself sipping NA drinks it’d be weird, but if you’re with a group of people who are buying alcohol? Not a big deal if you’re tossing down a buck now and then.

One of my BFFs is a bartender. One of the regulars at the bar she works at would come in with his friend who never ordered anything, ate her dinner (that she brought) at the bar, and had the bartender give her glasses of water. Never bought anything or tipped at dime. Every week. For many hours. At a very, very small bar. After a while, my friend the bartender had to say, look, I like you, I like [regular], but any other bartender would have had you out on your ass so long ago. She started dropping some cash now and then after that.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

Like Stuntman Mike says in Deathproof: Women. Nacho Grande platters. The fellowship of some fascinating individuals, like Warren here are all good reasons to go to a bar and not drink.

Keck (#2,466)

If I spend hours studying in a coffee shop every day (Caribou Coffee!) but hate coffee (tea please) and bring my own mug and (sometimes) correctly answer the daily trivia question so as to save 20 cents, do I suck? Yes I should tip more. Or at all. Sorry.

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