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Grabbing drinks from the bar mat is poor bar etiquette


The bar mat is a very special place in the bar. It’s an important and essential tool. It’s the place in the bar where all of the cocktails are made and served from, making it the workstation of every bartender.

As soon as a customer orders a drink from a bartender, the serving glass used to make the cocktail ordered is always placed upon the bar mat. The bartender’s workstation allows customers to watch their drinks being created for them, right in front of their very eyes. Customers can see exactly what ingredients are going into their cocktail and how much of each ingredient is being used.

Whatever the case may be, a customer (under no circumstances) should never reach for a drink as long as the drink is still on the bartender’s bar mat. A drink does not belong to a customer until it has been removed from the bar mat and hand delivered to a customer, on the bar top. As long as a drink is still on a bartender’s bar mat, it belongs to the bartender. These drinks aren’t finished being created, aren’t ready to be served and therefore aren’t ready for consumption. There can be many reasons as to why a drink might be on a bar mat and not on the bar top, in front of a customer. Liquor bottles run out in the middle of building a drink and need to be replaced so that the cocktail can be finished being made. There might be one or more ingredients that still need to be added to the drink in order for it to be complete. Or maybe the drink has yet to be garnished.

The premature act of grabbing cocktails can create unnecessary tension between a bartender and a customer. Customers who place multiple drink orders may not understand that it is considered improper bar etiquette to grab drinks from the bar mat. This act may result in a customer getting an unfinished drink or perhaps the wrong drink all together. At busy bars, bartenders typically take multiple drink orders at a time. They then combine like drinks together from different customers and make them at the same time in order to increase service speed. If a customer reaches for a drink from the bar mat, they could grab a drink that isn’t even intended for them in the first place.

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Bartenders are in the business of serving their customers. Customers come to a bar to be served. Hand delivering a cocktail to a customer is all part of the customer service transaction at the bar. Customers who exhibit patience and wait for their bartender to hand deliver their drinks will almost always receive the drink they ordered, complete, properly made and garnished.

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  • Kristine Bottone- LA Bartender Examiner 5 years ago

    To this article I say "YEAH!" Nice one Kathleen.

  • Patrick Lagreid 5 years ago

    Indeed - nice article. I'd never think of doing that, but I'm sure there are some folks out there who would.

    Patrick Lagreid
    Seattle Menswear Examiner

  • Terra 5 years ago

    Good article, I would never have grabbed a drink not specifically put in front of me but I didn't realize how important the Bar mat is.

    good job.


  • TikiTender 5 years ago

    Always good stuff, though I must add servers to the list of people who shouldn't grab drinks before they are finished! :-D