So, you enter the bar and head towards the bartender who is, naturally, surrounded by dozens of other people with the same idea. You want your drink now but you have no idea how to catch the bartender’s eye. What do you do? Would you try to shove your way to the front? Or maybe yell out your order?
For Jillian*, A&S ’14, the venue is a serious consideration. “Mary Ann’s can’t be taken for more than what is…a dive bar. Everyone goes there, so merely getting through the door on some nights can be difficult.”
For her, “getting [the bartenders’] attention is half the charm of MA’s. It is almost like a challenge…slow service is part of the dive bar charm.”
On the other hand, Cityside is a “whole other game” for Jillian. “It is more costly than MA’s for sure,” but “getting a drink here isn’t a challenge because the bartenders are much more experienced and the atmosphere is more relaxed. At Cityside, the bartenders are very attentive.”
Through her experiences with these Cleveland Circle favorites, Jillian believes that “knowing the bartenders’ names is helpful” and “placing your hand up and making eye contact” works.
Jack, CSOM ’14, has a different strategy. “Holding your cash and looking at the bartender is the most effective way to get served in my experience,” he said.
Lauren, A&S ’14, believes in another method. “My personal tactic is to prop myself up on a chair to appear taller than the rest of the crowd and get noticed by the bartenders first so that the wait for a drink is minimal.”
Luckily, German researchers have studied what body language is most effective in getting the bartender’s attention. By observing 105 people approach bartenders in a nightclub, the researchers found fairly consistent results.
The logical approaches suggested by these BC students, however, don’t exactly match up with the experiment’s findings.
In fact, the simplest and most common act of just standing right in front of the bar and making direct eye contact with the bartender was found to be the best strategy in getting a drink quickly. As Sebastian Loth, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Bielefeld University, puts it, “First, the customers position themselves directly at the bar and, secondly, look at the bar/bartender. If one of these signals was absent, the participants judged the customers as not bidding for attention.”
When asked about the experiment’s conclusion, Jack said, “I think that makes sense as the most successful strategy. It’s human nature to respond more rapidly to someone who’s making it obvious they are trying to engage with you. Also, in a busy bar, a bartender goes to the people who look most ready to order so that they aren’t wasting time.”
In the end, making your intentions known is the best advice. Simply stand in front of the bar, make eye contact and prepare to impress your friends.
*For the purposes of anonymity, last names have been omitted from this article.
As always, Gavel Media reminds its readers to drink legally and responsibly.
Featured image by Alex Krowiak/Gavel Media.