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7 Secrets Bartenders Don't Want You To Find Out

Some of these tricks are sneaky... and others are pure genius!

As we all know, there are plenty of secrets that are often hidden within restaurant establishments, fast-food joints, and even grocery store chains. But, it doesn't just stop there. Bartenders have also been known to have a few secrets up their cocktail-shakin' sleeves too.

While their talents of mixing up unique concoctions and filling up pints of beer perfectly to the rim are greatly appreciated, you'd be surprised to know a few of the sneaky tricks bartenders pull on their customers. Some of them are looking to rack up more tips, while others are trying to save money on waste behind the bar.

Either way, your bartender would rather you not find out about these 7 secrets that frequently happen behind the bar. Keep reading to find out their tricks.

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Busy nights call for quick fixes

bartender giving margarita

Bartending is an overwhelming task in of itself, but even more so if there aren't enough hands behind the bar and there are tons of people or large groups entering the place eager to drink a lot. In times like these, it's not uncommon for multiple people to be coming up and asking for the same drinks over and over again, which is where this little hack comes in handy. Some bartenders will make large batches of popular cocktails to speed up the process of making it time and time again in one night, according to one Redditor. They wrote, "my goal is: not to waste time with obvious no-go recipes…& keep it simple for the bartenders as it could be a dry bar set-up."

Some ignore expiration dates


When times are slow and bartenders want to make products last, some try to bend the rules of time. To avoid getting caught serving older ingredients, bartenders might scratch off the best-by or expiration dates on cans and product labels, The U.S. Sun reports. Next time you're at a bar sipping on a cranberry vodka or a chill beer, don't be surprised if you get a sour and/or spunked taste on the tip of your tongue.

Pro tip: A common inclusion that easily goes bad in a bar? Vermouth. Take a look behind the bar and if you can see a bottle of vermouth sitting out for long, steer clear of ordering a Manhattan or a martini.

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They'll serve you a drink alternative if you're too drunk

too drunk

It happens to the best of us—drinking one too many on a night out on the town. However, to avoid making a scene and cutting you off or kicking you out, some bartenders will take a different route in order to deal with one being overly drunk.

One service industry expert shared with Insider that they will serve non-alcoholic beer "on the house" if they see someone too intoxicated. The key is to sneak in the flavor of the real thing, in the nicest and most simple way possible. Plus, the source said she might even suggest a glass of water after the so-called "beer" and before the guest knew it, the night would come to an end without any drama at all.

Your drink will only get stronger if you pay for it

bartender cocktail

If you've ever ordered from a bartender before and asked if they could "make it a strong one," you can pretty much guarantee that drink wasn't made any differently than others. One trick bartenders use to make people believe they're getting alcohol in their order is by pouring a few extra drops of liquor into the straw, according to Buzzfeed. The first few sips of your drink might taste like it's full of booze, but the truth is you'll get exactly what you paid for—nothing less, but most definitely nothing more.

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Leftovers don't go to waste

bar food

Shifts behind the bar can get extremely crazy and not all bartenders have the time to take breaks and eat something. That being said, a luxury resort bartender told Insider that if they see leftovers left behind by their regulars or likable customers, they'll often finish off the dish themselves.

They know how to work the cash register system too well

bartender register

Bartenders can't always rely on a customer's good graces, so in order to keep tips coming in, they'll use the register system to their advantage. For example, when ringing up a vodka Redbull, many bartenders will charge one customer for a full can of Redbull and only end up using half. As a couple of ex-bartenders and servers shared in a Reddit thread, they can input the next customer who orders a vodka Redbull as being full price but only charge them for vodka on the register and then claim the remaining cash as a tip.

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When you get a free drink, it's not as special as you think

bartender tips

According to another Reddit user, for the most part, many bars allow or encourage bartenders to give out a certain amount of free drinks throughout the night. But, the real secret is, for the most part, bartenders choose to give out their supply of free drinks to the people who tip big. It's the kind of situation where if you scratch their back, they'll scratch yours.

A version of this story was originally published in July 2022. It has been updated to include new information.

Jordan Summers-Marcouillier
Jordan Summers-Marcouillier was born and raised in San Jose, California and now works as a writer in New York, NY. Read more about Jordan