Why You Should Never Take Shots With The Bartender, Plus More Drinking Tips From Jon Taffer

Should you eat the bar nuts?

Bar consultant and TV personality Jon Taffer knows a thing or two about nightlife culture.

With a service industry background spanning over three decades, the "Bar Rescue" host is no stranger to creating the perfect customer experience. Not to mention, his wildly successful Spike TV show is currently airing its fourth season, with more than 100 episodes in the bag.

Taffer sat down with The Huffington Post to offer his advice on everything from tipping to dating and whether drinking tequila makes you a special type of drunk. To find out what his favorite cocktail is and whether a bar should be "SHUT DOWN," check out the interview below.

Jon Taffer in his domain.
'Bar Rescue'/Spike
Jon Taffer in his domain.

What is a telltale sign of a crappy bar?

You can smell a crappy bar. So typically, you know it three steps in. Fact of matter is, crappy bars have mold and mildew and yeast everywhere. You can smell it. If it doesn't smell right, then it’s not right. Then again, you’ve gotta look at who you’re with too. (Laughs)

Where should people go for a romantic date?

A mellow bar. You want to look into each other’s eyes. You also want to go to a bar where you share something. The second most sexual thing in the world is eating. So if we go to a mellow quiet bar, we start to share food, intimacies start to happen and we’re on our way.

What about for a professional meeting?

Not that different, a mellow bar environment. But you want to create an environment where people have a cocktail or two and loosen up. Great negotiations happen when people are relaxed so a relaxing environment is important. A high energy environment tenses people up. It closes them up. You’re not as likely to get that concession.

Patrons waiting for their drinks.
Dmitriy Shironosov via Getty Images
Patrons waiting for their drinks.

Is it rude to signal a bartender?

If you have to signal a bartender to get a drink, then they’re not looking at you, which is their problem. They’re not doing their job. So don't feel rude when you signal a bartender. They’re the ones who caused you to signal them. Go for it.

Is it ever OK for bartenders to drink with their customers?

No, it’s not. Fact of the matter is if you were drunk right now, you couldn’t do your job. How could they do theirs when they drink? Bartenders are accountable for cash, they have to count money. Would a bank teller drink? Of course not. So, bartenders have to be sober. They have to be sober to be responsible about money, about serving alcohol and about taking care of their guests.

Is it proper to sip a cocktail before you pay for it?

Drink before and after you pay. (Laughs)

Should you tip on every drink or do you tip at the end of the night?

No, typically you would tip at the end of the night. But you want to be careful because sometimes the service people will change. So if it's waitress tip as you go, if it's a bartender and you’re stationary, tip at the end of the night. What you don't want is you don't want to miss tipping an employee.

What is your go-to drink of choice?

Mine is a Godfather. And a Godfather is about an ounce and half of scotch and quarter ounce of amaretto floated on top. That tends to be my drink of choice. Not too sweet, but a little strong.

A classic old-fashioned cocktail with a cherry on a wooden table.
martiapunts via Getty Images
A classic old-fashioned cocktail with a cherry on a wooden table.

What’s an underrated cocktail everyone should try?

An old-fashioned. A lot of people don’t like old-fashioneds because it’s almost all liquor. There’s no mix or juice in it. It’s really just cherries, orange, and bitters and you muddle it up and you put in whisky. But it’s got this fruity, unbelievable smoothness to it. And people who don’t typically have straight whisky drinks should try an old-fashioned.

Is there a drink that everyone should know how to make?

The simplest of all drinks is a screwdriver. And what people don’t know about the screwdriver is it was invented in the 1920s with American oil workers. And they would drink orange juice and vodka all day long while they worked and the ingredients would separate in their glass so they’d stir it with the screwdriver from their tool belt. Everyone should know how to make a screwdriver.

Should people eat the bar nuts?

No! Don’t eat the bar nuts. We call that blue collar shrimp if you will. Would you share shrimp with someone whose hands who are all over it? You might not know who the person next to you has been, where they’ve been. You don’t know where those beer nuts have been either. Never eat anything out of a bowl in a bar. … If it isn’t in a package, don’t eat it.

What is the best way to avoid a hangover?
Not to drink too much. The secret to a hangover is spacing. Have a cocktail, a glass a water. A cocktail, a glass of water. If you keep yourself hydrated and spread your cocktails by spacing it with water, you won’t hungover in the morning.

"Bar Rescue" airs Sundays at 9/8c on Spike.

Note: This article has been edited to remove an inaccurate reference to a connection between mezcal and mescaline. The two are not related.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go


3-Ingredient Cocktails