Learn Montana Bar Etiquette. Yes, Californians We’re Talking to You
A good dive bar or small-town watering hole is something that is taken seriously in Montana. So, if you're not familiar with how things work around here, read on.
I recently sat down at my local dive bar with some bartender friends. They had been going on and on about how difficult it has been dealing with new out-of-staters. Within minutes some transplant waddled up to the bar in some goofy hat and a pair of $300 jeans. Right away we could all tell he was from out of state, and by some of the following Montana Bar rules he broke, it was apparent we were right. Don't be like this guy. If you don't follow a few easy guidelines, the repercussions could be hazardous. Follow along.
DON'T order a Ceasar or Bloody Mary anytime after noon. Your bartender is busy, and if you ask for one of these cocktails late in the evening they might just tell you to get bent. In the best-case scenario, they give you a glass of tomato juice and vodka. What should you do instead? Just order a shot and a beer.
DON'T chain order. When you get up to the bar, have your order ready all in one go. If one person is late to the group and the bartender has already gotten the order, don't send them back for another drink. They have other people waiting and you don't get to be needy. What should you do if the person is late and you don't know what they want? Just order them a shot and a beer.
DON'T ask about any blended drinks. Read the room. Do you see all the dead deer and elk heads on the wall next to the burnt-out OLY neon sign? Most places don't even have a blender. This goes along for you newly 21-year-olds as well. Don't go ordering 21-year-old drinks. This isn't L.A. What should you do instead? Order a shot and a beer.
DON'T bother the locals. A quiet beer after a long day is something most Montanans consider sacred. If you see someone sitting quietly sipping a beer alone and staring at the t.v, leave them be. If you really want to strike up a conversation and meet some new people, try buying them a shot and a beer first.
DON'T snap your fingers, wave your money, whistle, or yell to get your server or bartender's attention. This is the quickest way to get lit up in front of the entire bar. Staff is short everywhere and service staff in Missoula is tired, annoyed, and running on empty. They'll get to you asap. When they do get to you, make it easy and just order a shot and a beer.
DON'T open and close a tab over and over. If you aren't sure if you are going to have more than one drink, just leave the card open. If it's just one drink, order your shot and beer, closeout, and tip. This brings me to my next etiquette rule.
DON'T forget to tip. No matter where you stand on the subject, it's all part of the service. And just because our drinks our priced cheaper than in Orange County or Dallas, doesn't mean you get to be cheap about the tip. If you take care of your new local bartender, they will take care of you and maybe one day even sit and have a shot and a beer with you.