Bartenders’ Best Pick-Up Advice

Having seen hundreds of guys hit on girls (and vice versa), they know what works—and doesn’t. Here, they reveal the very best tips and pickup tricks.

By Maggie Kim

ew people have such a front-row seat to the dating and mating game as a bartender. Every night, these drink slingers watch would-be studs crash and burn, unlikely couples happily hook up, and more. Thanks to this experience, they’ve compiled a wealth of knowledge on the moves that work—not to mention those that bomb. Here, their best advice.

Try this easy opener
“I think the easiest way for a guy to start talking to a girl is to get next to her while she’s ordering her own drink and say, ‘That
Splurge on a nice glass of champagne and send it over.
one’s on me.’ Every girl will at least say thank you and if she’s interested, she’ll stick around and start a conversation.”
—Gia Favia, Rino, Chicago

Stand out with a signature drink
“For both guys and girls, the meeting and hooking-up game is all about making an impression. I think finding a signature drink helps you stand out from the pack of gin and tonics and vodka sodas. Women who are sipping a bourbon definitely have a lot more mystique than one with a standard pink drink, just like a guy with a Manhattan seems more interesting than one with a beer. Find the drink that suits your style and personality and have a fun, cute story to go with it. Like ‘I drink Manhattans because my grandfather did.’ Anything that helps you stand out from the pack and start a conversation is a plus.”
—Josh Wojcik, Chocolat Michel Cluizel, New York

Stick to the three-minute rule
“From what I’ve seen, a woman’s usually made up her mind about a guy in the first three minutes—and I’ve never seen anyone’s mind change after that. So when a guy goes in for the pickup, if three minutes go by and she’s not warming up, he should cut his losses and move on.”
—David Cerequas, Craftbar, New York

Be sincere
“From what I’ve seen, it’s the Year of the Geeks and Good Guys: It’s not about being suave or sexy, but about being genuine and attentive. Women are tired of being hit on by jerks whose heads swivel every time another pretty girl walks by. Give a woman your undivided attention, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.”
—Terril Johnson, Shortstop, Los Angeles

Look out for the Lemon Drop
“You can definitely spot the girls who are looking for a good time and want to flirt: They usually come in groups and line up at the
“A woman’s usually made up her mind in the first three minutes. If a woman hasn’t made up her mind after three minutes, a guy should cut his losses and move on.”
bar versus sitting at a table to make it easier for guys to talk to them. And if you see them drinking Lemon Drops — a yellowish liquid in a shot glass garnished with a lemon that’s been dipped in sugar — it’s a sure sign that these girls just wanna have fun! It’s replaced the Cosmo as the drink of choice for the Sex and the City-type girls.”
—Erica Jobe, Moda, New York

Try talking about your troubles
“There was one guy who got a call on his cell phone about his dog being injured by a car—it felt like every woman in the bar was trying to help him and comfort him. The lesson here is don’t be afraid to tell a girl about a dilemma or problem you’re struggling with. Women like to help.”
—Chris Lower, Gator’s, Minnesota

Be a big spender
“Splurge on a nice glass of champagne (think Cristal) and send it over to the woman you’re interested in. This works better than anything I’ve ever seen. It shows a guy’s not cheap and that he’s interested enough in the girl to spend some money on her. It’s smooth, impressive—and works almost every time!”
—Joseph Barbour, Body English at the Hard Rock, Las Vegas

Maggie Kim ( is a freelance writer and a rock musician living in Paris.
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