Nightclub bartenders are a special breed—they can make outrageous cash, but they have to deal with some crazy bullshit night after night, too. Two insiders, one male, one female, who tend bar in prominent River North and River West clubs, spill some tricks of the trade.
Next time you put in a long night of drinking on a tab, you might want to let a sober friend take a look at it before you pay. “With bartenders, getting better shifts is contingent on how high your bar ring is. Sometimes if the person opens up a tab and is drinking a lot, I’ll sneak in an extra drink to up the [tab] a little bit,” one bartender says. “Or if a guy is being a douche, we’ll definitely sneak in an extra drink.”
Best not to order complicated drinks on a busy night. “If they say, “I’ll have a buttery nipple,” I’ll just say we don’t have the schnapps, even if we do,” a bartender confesses.
Sometimes bartenders do a great service for the community: “When they’re too drunk and insist on ordering, I’ll pour them a pure tonic and charge ’em full [price for an alcoholic drink]. They don’t know.”