Hey Leah!
My buddy flirts with everybody, like, all the time, and it gets a little embarrassing. Is it even cool to hit on a bartender when they are working?

—Scotty, Charleston SC

Let’s be real, Scotty. Bartenders are sexy and we get paid to pay attention to you, so it’s only natural that you’d want to hit on us. But this is a total case-by-case basis. The best thing I can tell you is to read the room. Read your bartender’s energy. Not unlike any other potential romantic interaction, you have to assess the situation by picking up on signals that indicate whether or not the recipient of your affection desires it. If your bartender is giving off flirty vibes and giving you lots of attention, it’s possible that he or she is into you. But it’s also possible that you’re a tipping customer and he or she is just telling you what you want to hear because you’re a walking dollar sign. I’ve been in situations where a guest was flirting with me and I was absolutely indicating interest, and I’ve likewise been in situations where a bar guest asked for my number and I politely declined. If Brendan Fraser circa 1999 walked into my bar and proceeded to flirt with me, I would not care how busy I was; he’d be getting my number on his check. But if some creep is calling me “baby” and reaching across the bar to touch my tattoos, it’s a hard no for me, dawg. The point is, Scotty, you just have to feel out the vibe and go from there. Just remember that in a professional bar setting, it’s easy to mistake good service for romantic interest. Always be kind and respectful, and hey, tipping well definitely won’t hurt your chances.

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Leah Pupkin has been a craft cocktail bartender and consultant for the past ten years. She has worked in countless bars and curated cocktail programs all over New York and Australia. She now resides in Portland, Oregon, where she is currently the bar director at G-Love. Leah produces sponsored content for various liquor brands and runs a blog featuring movie reviews accompanied by craft cocktail pairings when not behind the bar. You can find the blog at thebardirector.com and follow all her work on Instagram @thebardirector.