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How not to be a dick in Miami bars

How not to be a dick in Miami bars, according to a Miami bartender

“Everyone is welcome once, but not everyone is welcome back.”

Gio “Chat Chow” Gutierrez
Written by Gio “Chat Chow” Gutierrez

My name is Gio Gutierrez, and I drink for a living. No, seriously. I have the honor of working with Havana Club Rum as their National Ambassador. I get to represent my culture and our beautiful spirit as I travel the country’s top bars and restaurants, educating anywhere they let me shake a daiquiri. I suppose that makes me qualified to impart some hard-won, time-tested knowledge on how to win at bars. From someone who spends a hell of a lot of time in them, here are a few friendly tips on how to not be a dick in Miami bars.

RECOMMENDED: How not to be a dick in Miami

1. Don’t be sick.

It seems silly to start with such a basic concept, but sometimes I have to question common sense when I see sick people coughing and sneezing all over a bar—especially a small bar. No one wants your cooties. I don’t care how hot you are with whatever outfit you just bought or what big *blank* energy you are feeling, no one wants to see your snot dripping into your martini. Stay home and heal up. The drinks will be there tomorrow.

2. Hospitality works both ways.

Try actually connecting with the person on the other side of the bar. Ask them for their name, how their day is going or their favorite drink on the menu. Being friendly and engaged can make a huge difference. Hospitality goes both ways.

3. Check your aggression at the door.

We’re adults now; don’t get in a fight. This isn't the Wild West, so let's skip the flipping of tables and smashing of bottles. A punch is not worth spending the night in jail. Try using your words instead of your brute force. Make your case to an employee if someone’s being an asshole, and back it up in a cool, clear-headed way. This will speak volumes.

4. Hands to yourself!

Admire the whimsical trinkets and bespoke glassware that make your favorite bar so special. Behold that beautiful hard-bound menu, the limited-edition tiki vessel and adorable oyster fork. I know it’s tempting, but if you really want to take home a memento from your visit, try asking or offering to pay for it. There’s a good chance you’ll actually succeed, without waking up the next morning feeling guilty about your choice—or worse, getting caught in the act.

5. Imagine mom’s in the bathroom line behind you.

This one goes out to my dudes: Remember to lift the toilet seat, especially in modern, unisex bathrooms. Think about your mom and if she were next in line. She taught you better, bro. What’s the saying? And this applies to everyone: “Be a sweetie and wipe the seaty.” End of rant.

How not to be a dick in Miami bars
Photograph: Nader/

6. Chivalry’s not dead.

Call me old school, but common courtesy still has its place, whether you’re opening a door or giving up your seat on the bus—or, in this case, at the bar. This typically applies to a member of the opposite sex, an elder or anyone who looks like their tush needs a rest. Lord knows we’ll all be there one day (hopefully, partying at the bar well into our twilight years). You’d surely want a seat after crushing it this hard at karaoke.

7. Study the menu.

Like really check it out, page by page. Are the drinks listed in order from light to boozy, or separated by style (bubbly, shaken, stirred, etc)? Is there a theme? Ever notice the cocktail menu at Brickell’s LPM is based around the life of Jean Cocteau, or Orilla in Miami Beach bases its drinks around feelings? Not only will you gain a better appreciation for the concept behind the bar, but you might just find yourself in love before your first sip.

8. Do not holler at your bartender.

None of that “hey!” or “yooooo” business. No snapping of the fingers, either. No one likes being called “papi” or “mami.” Save those names for pillow talk if you do end up taking someone home—after being the most well-behaved person at the bar, of course.

9. Give and receive.

If someone buys you a drink, consider buying them one back. I met a new friend with that simple gesture. In fact, Eli from D.C. came to hang out with me while I was in town visiting The Setting just last week. While there, I asked, “By the way, where do you work?” To which he replied, “The Four Seasons.” And there’s that code of conduct.

10. Don’t ruin it.

Last but definitely not least, avoid getting inebriated. If you do get drunk (this can happen), just try not to ruin it for the other patrons. I’ll quote bar legend Sasha Petraske, who used to say at his famed Milk & Honey bar in New York: “Everyone is welcome once, but not everyone is welcome back.”

See you at the bar,

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