While many bartenders are honest and hard working, occasionally you come across one who is out to make money at their customer’s expense. The ways in which they do this ranges from simple hacks that allow them to use less alcohol, a manager putting the pressure on them to cut costs, or replacing more expensive liquor with cheaper substitutes or watered down versions of the same drinks.
Knowing what to look for can help you from getting ripped off. Here are some of the more common underhanded practices that bartenders use to make more money.
1) Mixing More Expensive Liquors with Cheap Fillers
One think that unscrupulous bartenders like to do is use cheap fillers when making your drink. Often, they will mix your favorite spirit with something than can help cut the amount they use without affecting the taste. An example of this is mixing vodka with Red Bull, which makes the quality of the vodka virtually undetectable, meaning they can use cheaper vodka without you even knowing it.
2) Overcharge for Special Orders
If you have a favorite drink that is not on the menu, most bartenders worth their salt can still make it for you. And while it might cost a little more, more often than not the bartender will use cheaper liquor than is called for in the drink. What this boils down to is that you end up paying more even though the quality of the liquor used is subpar.
3) Water Down Drinks
Watch for watered down drinks if you like your liquor on the rocks. A sneaky bartender might take it upon themselves to add a little water to these drinks, allowing them to use less alcohol. Their hope is that you will just think it is the ice melting in the glass. And while it is harder to do this with more expensive liquor, it is hard to detect with cheap alcohol.
4) Add Cold Water to Keep Ice from Melting
Another way that bartenders can skimp on alcohol is by adding cold water to a drink with ice. The cold water keeps the ice from melting longer so that it can dilute your drink for far longer. If it doesn’t seem your ice is melting as fast as it should, this might be the case.
5) Raising the Price of Drinks When a Customer Fails to Tip
If you are on vacation or have a favorite bar, chances are you have attended the Happy Hour. Just make sure to tip appropriately or you might f9ind the price of your drinks going up. Another tactic used by vengeful bartenders is for the cheap liquor to run out, requiring the bartender to use the more expensive stuff, at an increased price of course.
6) Use Dark Glasses with a Thick Bottom
If the bar you are at uses dark-colored drinking glasses, you might not be getting the amount of alcohol that you paid for. The dark glass can obscure a thick bottom. The hope is that you think there is actually more liquid in the glass than there is and you don’t realize this fact while you are having a drink.
7) Do Not Give You an Itemized Bill When Paying
Another tactic to get more money out of you is to close out your tab without giving you an itemized bill. Sometimes this tactic is used to hide the fact that the bartender actually gave you a more expensive pour of liquor than you asked for and to hide an automatic gratuity in the hope that you will give an additional tip.
8) Place Cheaper Liquor in an Expensive Bottle
Unless you really know your liquor, chances are you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between cheap and more expensive liquor. This makes it easy for some bartenders to pour cheap alcohol into the bottle for a more expensive product, and then charge you more for the “expensive stuff.”
9) Skimp on the Types of Liquors a Drink Requires
Another tactic used by a bartender wanting to save a little here and there is to not use all of the different liquor types when mixing a drink for a customer. This might also be because they forgot exactly how to make a drink. At the very least they should charge you less for a drink that doesn’t contain everything it is supposed to.
10) Add Less Soda
Leaving out a mixer or other important ingredient can make the drink taste like there is more alcohol in the drink. In fact, there is the same amount of alcohol in your drink, just less of the other stuff that normally weakens the taste of the alcohol.
11) Fill Your Glass with Ice
Filling your glass with ice is another way that a bartender uses to skimp on the amount of alcohol that they give you. Until the ice has melted, it does little to water down the taste of the alcohol. So, while you drink might taste like it has a lot of alcohol, it actually has less due to the large amount of ice in the glass.
12) Free Salty Snacks
Salty bar snacks are the worst. They make you even thirstier and leave you wanting to buy another drink, which plays right into the hands of the bartender. This is why bar snacks, such as peanuts, pretzels, and chips are free, since they get you to spend even more money.
13) Fail to Mention an Automatic Gratuity
Another way that a bartender gets you to spend even more money is to fail to mention the automatic gratuity that some bars charge you automatically. Then, when you get ready to leave, you tip them again, without even knowing that you already have tipped them.
14) Alcoholic Straws
Some bartenders add alcohol to the straws they use or place them in alcohol before using them. This is to make you think that your drink is stronger than it actually is, allowing them to skimp on the amount of alcohol actually in your drink.
15) Use Top Shelf Booze without Asking
Pouring top shelf liquor, which is the most expensive of all of the alcohol in the bar, without asking allows the bartender to charge you more for your drink. The bartender assumes that you won’t complain and assume that is the price of the drink. If you do notice, they are betting that you won’t say anything.
16) Looks Can be Deceiving
Believe it or not, but those long pours that many bartenders use does not actually result in more alcohol in your drink. Pourers, while a great bartending tool, also can create a visual effect that makes it look like a bartender is pouring a lot of alcohol in your drink when they are in fact not doing so.
17) Use Cheap Methods to Recreate Elite Drinks
Some bartenders have mastered the art of making expensive tasting liquor from cheaper ingredients. Examples include mixing vodka, strong tea, and pepper to create a convincing cognac, or using cheap wine in conjunction with a siphon for a champagne look alike.
18) Use Improper Measurements When Pouring Drinks
If your bartender uses a bartender measuring cup, or jigger, watch out. Some bartenders glue coins or other similar round objects inside the cups to take up space. This results in less alcohol in the cup. They assume you won’t notice the difference and many people don’t.
19) Whip Up the Foam on Your Beer
While the foam head on a beer is a great way to take in the aroma of the beer, some bartenders will whip this up using a blender. The goal, to pour less beer into your mug, allowing them to sell less product for an increased profit.
20) Soak the Edge of the Glass with Alcohol
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Sneaky bartenders will often soak the rim of a glass in alcohol to make your drink taste stronger. They do this by wiping the edge with a sponge soaked in alcohol, or placing the glass upside down on a plate before making your drink. In this way, they can add less alcohol to your drink, stretching out the amount of product they have to sell.