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We’ve all been there: Mentally commiting to a two-drink maximum on any given evening, until we find ourselves ordering a third, and then a fourth, etc. And while we’re not trying to evade responsibility, there are tricks that bartenders use to keep us at the bar and ordering more, more—and more.
One bartender was willing to dish on how he keeps the drinks coming. Here are his tricks.
He makes one as a demo.
Let’s say you’ve ordered a glass of wine at a craft cocktail bar. You’re not usually a cocktail drinker, but as the bartender shakes up a mixed drink and garnishes it with a fresh orange peel and an orchid flower, you can’t help but think that’s the next drink for you. Newsflash: He made that drink in front of you—someone without a cocktail—on purpose. “If I want to sell extra cocktails, all I usually have to do is make one for people to see,” Josh Cameron, the head bartender at New York’s Boulton & Watt, admits. “I know I’m personally guilty of the ‘see it, want it’ mentality, and I know that the same usually goes for customers at the bar.”
He’ll ask if you want a refill with a bottle in hand.
Asking if you’d like another drink without a bottle in hand is a recipe for a “no,” Cameron says. But he’s found that if he approaches a patron while holding a bottle, ready to pour a drink at the nod of his or her head, customers are more apt to order more. “When I offer a refill while holding the bottle ready, customers are more inclined to want it,” he says.
He uses Instagram to lure you in.
There’s no mindless Instagram snapping for Cameron, who subscribes to the idea that what he calls “sexy” images sell drinks. He says that bartenders who want to lure customers into another drink use photos to make drinks look appealing. They “get the angles, the lighting” just right, Cameron says, with “maybe some sunlight by a window, and always on a wooden table. [The photos] create a feeling around the drink that people remember and come in to try based on the image they’ve seen. Memories sell drinks, and drinks make memories.”
And while Cameron says he doesn’t use smiles, “lean ins,” winks, laughing at terrible jokes, or “the ‘you might have a chance’ eyebrow raise,” he says he’s seen all those moves made in the name of selling yet another drink to a patron.
“I’ve seen it all,” Cameron says. “There are so many tactics, although most we don’t even realize [we’re doing]. There is true power in suggestion, but our opinions are valid and I believe customers love to know what we like.”