With less than a month to the big day, it’s now truly Christmas; advent calendars, bad jumpers and yes friends, it also means the great pilgrimage that is the 12 Pubs of Christmas. This may be your first time heading on this extraordinary alcoholic adventure, but fear not: the Express has got your back.
I’m your friendly (most of the time) neighbourhood bartender; I’ve worked in the city during 12 Pubs season in the past, and let me tell you – I have seen some things. My advice is going to range from essential, to general, to ‘how to not piss us off’. Remember, bartenders are the gatekeepers of the ‘seasonal joy’, so it’s best to stay on our good side. Follow my advice and you should have a sufficiently good time with minimal negative consequences.
*Disclaimer: some of this advice is subjective, and can apply more or less depending on the establishment. I cannot and do not speak for every bartender or every bar ever.
- Know Your Route – Don’t think: “eh, we’ll figure it out as we go along,” Cork City is sprawled out and very hilly in places. This isn’t ideal when you’re doing lots of drinking. It’s also worth knowing the bars you intend to go to on the night. Will they be 21s, and you’re bringing some 19 year olds? Are they expensive? Are they big enough to hold ye? Like, the Hi-B is the size of a sitting room; it’s not built for 30 students.
- Two Forms, Please – For the love of God, please bring at least two forms of ID with you. Preferably one (but ideally both) government issued, legally valid, and with a visible date of birth on them. Legally valid forms of ID include: your passport, the garda age card, or a driving license. If you haven’t got two of the above, bring one and something else. Your student card is not a legally valid form of ID, and if it’s all you bring you could be refused service.
- Don’t Pre-drink – This should go without saying, but apparently it doesn’t: Do. Not. Pre. Drink. The point of pre-drinking is to save money. The point of 12 pubs is to buy twelve alcoholic beverages in twelve venues. Pre-drinking isn’t gonna save you any money, it’s just gonna make you very drunk very early, and possibly very messy. Avoid.
- Don’t complain about the prices – This is one of the most irritating things bartenders have to deal with. I’m gonna say it for everyone nice and clear right now: Bartenders have zero input on the price of what they are serving. None. Your whining won’t make it any cheaper for you. If you can’t afford to do 12 pubs, you really don’t have to.
- Please, No Giant Groups – As a bartender, 12 Pubs feels like a warzone anyway. When ten plus people descend on us at once it becomes so, so much worse. We can only make one, or at a stretch two, drinks at a time. It’s hot, it’s crowded, you’ll be waiting ages. It’s better for everyone if you cap it at about eight, please.
- Be Nice to the Staff – A lot of us are on nine to twelve hour shifts with sparse breaks due to how packed it’ll be. Most of us are on minimum wage, or just about above it. You can go home whenever, but we’re here until 3AM at best, and we’ll probably have to clean some amount of carnage before we see our beds. Bartending is not as easy as it looks, and it gets so much worse at this time of year. If you’re nice to us, we’ll be nice to you, okay?
- No Snapping, Clicking, Whistling and/or Yelling at the Bartenders – this is sort of an add-on from above, but it’s so important it gets its own point. If you snap your fingers, click your tongue, whistle, yell, wave or do anything otherwise obnoxious to get a bartender’s attention when it’s visibly busy, you will be served last. We can’t do anything about how busy it is. Start being rude and we’ll just straight up avoid you. We’re stressed enough as it is, we don’t need this.
- Order Smartly – If you want to be served quickly, and not piss off the bartenders, here’s some top tips. Know what you’re going to order, preferably before you start queuing, and at least before you get to the front of the queue. Avoid complicated drinks if possible; order stouts (Beamish, Murphy’s) first, as they’re poured in two stages so they can ‘settle’. Order in rounds, it makes the bar way less packed, and queues are kept down.
- Tip If You Can – If you tip us, we’ll forgive you for being a bit awkward, complicated or rude. As I said earlier, most of us are on minimum wage or just above, so tipping makes our day. It doesn’t have to be much, either; you’re students, you’re broke, if you can’t afford to, that’s fine – but if you can, please do.
- If Someone Is Harassing You, Let Us Know – If someone is grabbing your arse, hassling you for the shift, yelling abuse at you – whatever the issue – let us know. Ladies, if you don’t feel comfortable going to a male security person, find a female member of staff. As a female bartender, I have had to step in once or twice in the past. We honestly don’t mind. Plus, we get it. Similarly, if you see something off (someone putting something into someone’s drink, someone taking drugs, etc) say it to us. We want everyone to have a good time and feel safe.
- Be Sensible – Know your limits. If you need to go home, go home. If you’re a lightweight, ask for half-pints (we don’t mind), or go for less-strong shots like apple sourz, Baileys, Malibu. Sneak an alcohol-free beer in if you feel you’ve had too much (Erdinger, Becks Blue and alcohol-free Kopparberg are widely stocked). If anyone judges you for doing any of the above, tell them to get fucked. In fact, you don’t have to drink alcohol at all. Even if they mock you at 9, they’ll be thankful at 2 when you’re sober enough to walk them home without falling into the fountain outside Hillbillys.
- Mind Your Friends – We all have one lightweight or messy friend. Keep an eye on them. Make sure you have everyone before you move on. Ask people to message into a group chat when they’re home. I know it can be like herding cats, but it’s worth it. It’s little things like that that can make a lot of difference.