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Bartenders Warn "Don't Touch the Garnishes"—Here's Why

The innocent joke can land you with an extra charge, or worse, a broken tooth.

It goes without saying that how you treat a bartender directly affects the quality of service you get in return. Things like making eye contact, keeping your order short and concise, and tipping generously are surefire ways to land you on your bartender's good side. But bartenders on TikTok are letting customers in on another unwritten rule that will keep you in their good graces.

RELATED: The 9 Drinks Bartenders Hate Making the Most.

Franky Bernstein is a TikToker who went viral in Feb. 2023 after he shared with followers that he got charged $12 for a "stolen orange" at the bar. In the clip, the bartender reprimands Bernstein for eating an orange that is "used to make drinks." When it comes time to pay the bill, Bernstein sees an extra charge for the garnish that ended up on his plate, not his drink.

After several users ran to Bernstein's defense, a bartender named Joshua stitched his own TikTok video, doubling down on the stolen garnish incident in support of his fellow mixologist. Joshua's response has racked up 2.2 million views and sparked a heated debate concerning the placement of garnishes on bar countertops.

"Bar rule number one: Don't touch the garnishes," Joshua told followers. "For the love of God, please do not touch the garnishes."

Joshua noted that this customer behavior is more common than you think. He shared a story from when he used to work at a tiki bar and a customer stole garnishes from his workstation not once but twice.

"The lady that's sitting in front of me, specifically from this group, gets confident after some conversation. And she reaches in, grabs a nutmeg out of my ramekin, and says, 'Oh, what's this for now?'" Joshua recalled. "Because she was so kind, and the rest of her group was kind, I wanted to be polite, right? And I just said, 'Ma'am, that's actually for me to grate over my cocktails.''

Joshua said the customer was very remorseful and apologized. However, instead of discarding the nutmeg in a napkin or asking Joshua to toss it for her, she placed it back in the garnish bowl.

"What do I have to do? I have to take that nutmeg out and put it in the trash bin because cross contamination," he explained.

Later on in the night, Joshua eyed the woman reaching for a nutmeg from his ramekin again.

"[She] turns around to her group and she says, 'Have you ever thought what it would be like to eat one of these?' And pops it in her mouth like an M&M," Joshua recalled.

"Now, mind you, this all happened in the span of three seconds, and I didn't really have time to react," Joshua explained, noting that he was in the process of finishing a big drink order for another table. "When she pops it in, she bites down on it and cracks her tooth, and [she] lets out a little squeal like, 'Oh!'"

The bartenders had no choice but to remind the woman that garnishes are off-limits to customers. Joshua explained that the moment was awkward for everyone involved and could have been easily avoided.

"The moral of the story is don't touch the garnishes, right?" he reiterated. "You'll save yourself the embarrassment of having a bartender to tell you 'no,' and possibly the embarrassment of cracking your tooth on a nutmeg."

The TikTok video has nearly 2,000 comments, most of which are seemingly siding with the customer. Even one bartender called out Joshua for keeping his ramekin within customer reach. "Bro I'm a bartender and server. You are supposed to hide the garnish," they wrote.

"Usually when theres a plate of fruit sitting on a table where people eat, its for them. put it behind the counter," another agreed. Meanwhile, a user joked: "You mean it's not a fruit and olive buffet?!?"

Someone else said, "Here's a wild idea don't put your garnishes where people can reach them."

"Just put a little sign that says do not touch," reads a comment with over 3,500 likes.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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