119 Questions to Ask a Bartender

Next time you’re up at the bar, remember that bartenders are like walking, talking drink dictionaries with a twist of fun. Want to try something new or need the scoop on the boozy stuff? Just ask! Bartenders have a shaker full of answers and are pretty much pros at pointing you to a drink that’ll dance on your taste buds.

I’ve put together a cheeky list of questions for you to fire away. Whether you’re at your usual hangout or trying out some swanky new joint, hit pause on the sip-and-stare routine and have a chinwag with the bartender. Trust us, they’re full of chatter and ready to spill (figuratively, of course)!

Bartender Conversation Starters

  1. What got you into bartending?
  2. Have you invented any cocktails?
  3. What’s a popular drink you dislike making?
  4. Any pro tips for a cocktail party?
  5. What’s your favorite bartender movie?
  6. Craziest thing you’ve seen while working?
  7. Do you have a signature drink?
  8. What’s a lesser-known drink that’s a must-try?
  9. Any funny bar stories to share?
  10. Which cocktail has the most interesting history?
  11. Do you prefer bartending at themed events or regular nights?
  12. Can you recommend a drink based on my zodiac sign?
  13. What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient?
  14. What would you serve a celebrity if one walked into the bar?
  15. What are some myths about bartending?
  16. What’s your best hangover cure?
  17. What’s a good drink to pair with a sunset view?
  18. What’s the most challenging drink to make?
  19. How has the bar scene changed over the years?
  20. Is there a cocktail that best represents this city?

Drink Recommendations

  1. What’s a good drink for a beer lover trying cocktails?
  2. Can you suggest a cocktail with a seasonal twist?
  3. What cocktail would you recommend for a first-time bar-goer?
  4. Is there a house specialty drink?
  5. What’s your favorite drink to make?
  6. Any good non-alcoholic drinks you recommend?
  7. I love [insert flavor]; what drink would you suggest?
  8. What’s the best drink to order on a date?
  9. How would you put a modern spin on a classic drink?
  10. What’s the best drink for a hot summer day?
  11. Can you suggest a great wine under $10?
  12. Any good local spirits I should try?
  13. What cocktail can you make that I can’t find anywhere else?
  14. What’s a good drink to sip slowly while reading a book?
  15. I want something sweet, what do you recommend?
  16. Is there a cocktail that’s trending right now?
  17. I’d like to try a lesser-known whiskey, any ideas?
  18. What’s an easy cocktail recipe I can replicate at home?
  19. Is there a drink that captures the essence of this season?

Career Insight Queries

  1. What certifications should an aspiring bartender look into?
  2. Are bartending schools worth it?
  3. What skills are essential for a successful bartender?
  4. Can you share advice for handling difficult customers?
  5. How do you keep up with new drink trends?
  6. What’s the best part of being a bartender?
  7. What are common beginner mistakes in bartending?
  8. How much importance is the presentation of a cocktail?
  9. What’s it like bartending in different types of establishments?
  10. What does a typical shift look like for you?
  11. What’s the best way to learn about different liquors and cocktails?
  12. Any tips on how to remember complex drink recipes?
  13. What’s your process for creating a new cocktail?
  14. How do you deal with the late hours common in bartending?
  15. What kind of clientele do you prefer to serve?
  16. Have you participated in any bartending competitions?
  17. What challenges did you face when first starting out?
  18. How do you manage inventory and ordering?
  19. Is flair bartending a useful skill to have?
  20. How do you balance speed with making quality drinks?

Personal Rapport Questions

  1. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
  2. Have any hobbies influenced your bartending?
  3. What music do you like to listen to at the bar?
  4. If you weren’t bartending, what would be your dream job?
  5. Have you traveled to places that inspired your bartending?
  6. What are your favorite local spots to eat and drink?
  7. When it’s your turn to be a customer, what do you order?
  8. Any favorite sports team you root for?
  9. What’s the last book you read or movie you watched that you loved?
  10. Do you enjoy cooking, or is it all about drinks for you?
  11. What’s a drink that tells a story about you?
  12. Do you collect anything, like rare spirits or cocktail accessories?
  13. What kind of foods or flavors do you enjoy pairing with your drinks?
  14. Do you have a memorable moment from your time as a bartender?
  15. Have any particular customers made an impact on you?
  16. If you could design your own bar, what would it look like?
  17. Do you participate in any local community events or charities?
  18. What seasonal activities do you look forward to?
  19. With all the varieties, do you have a favorite type of glassware?
  20. How do you like to celebrate after a busy night at the bar?

Bar Environment Insights

  1. What goes into setting up the bar for a night?
  2. How do you select which drinks go on the menu?
  3. Can you tell me about your regulars?
  4. Any unique traditions here in this bar?
  5. How do you ensure a safe environment for patrons?
  6. What’s the process like for curating your bar’s spirit selection?
  7. How do you determine the layout and seating of the bar?
  8. Is there a peak hour when the bar comes to life?
  9. What makes this bar stand out from others?
  10. Any interesting stories behind the decor or theme of the bar?
  11. How often does the menu change?
  12. What’s the most requested drink here?
  13. How do you train new staff members?
  14. What’s your policy on serving intoxicated customers?
  15. How do you create the ambiance that’s unique to this bar?
  16. What sustainability practices are in place here?
  17. How is technology changing the way you run the bar?
  18. Could you give a brief history of this establishment?
  19. How do you handle competing with nearby bars?
  20. What’s the biggest challenge of managing this bar?

Ingredient Pairing Curiosity

  1. What’s an unusual but delicious food and drink pairing?
  2. Can you recommend a dessert cocktail?
  3. How do you decide which ingredients to feature each season?
  4. What are some common pairing mistakes?
  5. Is there a classic pairing that you think is overrated?
  6. Any tips for creating balanced cocktails?
  7. How do you experiment with new flavor profiles?
  8. What’s your favorite herb to use in cocktails?
  9. Can you suggest a unique garnish that enhances a drink?
  10. Is there a non-alcoholic ingredient that elevates cocktails?
  11. What’s a good cocktail pairing for spicy food?
  12. How would you pair drinks with a seafood dinner?
  13. What ingredients are local bartenders excited about currently?
  14. What’s a surprising ingredient you’ve used in a cocktail?
  15. How do bitters contribute to the overall cocktail experience?
  16. Any advice for pairing wine with cheese?
  17. What’s the role of acidity in drink pairing?
  18. Can you suggest a cocktail to go with a vegetarian meal?
  19. Are there any regional ingredients that are must-tries?
  20. What’s your philosophy on creating a well-balanced cocktail menu?

Frequently Asked Questions

What topics are good to discuss with a bartender?

You could chat about anything from the bartender’s recommendations on the best drinks or food pairings to fun and light topics like music, local events, or travel anecdotes.

It’s great to start with topics related to the bar or beverages as they are within the bartender’s expertise.

What shouldn’t you say to a bartender?

A few things to avoid would be making inappropriate or overly personal remarks, commenting negatively about the drinks or the establishment, asking for free drinks or heavy pours, or insisting on a cocktail when they’re slammed with orders.

Always be respectful of their time and craft, and definitely don’t snap your fingers or wave money to get their attention.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it—a little nudge to turn the person behind the bar from a drink dispenser into your next buddy.

So, the next time you’re perched on a stool, give these questions a whirl and get the lowdown from the cocktail guru in front of you. You’ll do more than just break the ice—you’ll be mixing up the best parts of a night out with some bona fide bar wisdom. Cheers to new friends and killer drinks!

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.