Having a bar tab always seems so cool on TV sitcoms, and for those noders out there who aren't quite of legal age, let me fill you in on how bar tabs work. First off, bars rarely let you set up a tab that you don't have to pay before leaving the bar. Everyone from Tony Soprano to Barney Gumble seems to be able to just charge beers to their tab from day to day. Trust me, if the bartenders know you well enough to trust you with a running tab, you don't need this node.

What is it?

This is the easy part. It's just a system where the bartenders mark down the drinks as you order them, and then you just pay it all at once at the end. It saves you (and the bartender) a lot of time from having to collect cash for every order.

When should you set up a tab?

Hey, if you've got a credit card, and you either a) have a few friends with you, or b) are planning on staying there for a while, it's a good idea to set up a tab.

Advantages

First off, it's downright easier with a tab. When you order a drink, you just tell the bartender to "put it on my tab" and it's done. No messing around with your wallet here!

The other biggie here is that having a tab can actually save you money, if you happen to be a obligatory tipper. Say the beers are $2 and you feel bad not tipping, so you throw a single towards the bartender every time you order. After 10 drinks, you've thrown $30. If you had set up a tab, the bill would've been $20, and you could have thrown a good $5 tip and not feel guilty about it. So you've saved yourself some time and money!

Disadvantages

The only real thing you have to worry about when you have a tab is to make sure you know that your friends, and only your friends, put their drinks on your tab. Bartenders pretty much won't question anyone when they try to put drinks on your card. If they can recall the name your tab is under (sometimes just a first name, but usually your full name which is on the card), chances are their order will end up on your tab. So, please avoid getting drunk while playing quarters at the bar and telling everyone that it's okay to put all further pitchers on your tab. Trust me, it's not pretty.

How to do it

As soon as you place your order, the bartender will tell you how much the drinks are. Just slide the card to the bartender and mention that you want to start a tab. If you fail to mention that you want to start a tab, the bartender may ask if you want to keep the card open or to keep it closed. Open means you want a tab to run through the night, and if you close it right away, only your first order will get charged and you'll get your card back. The latter choice is just plain stupid and you should've just paid cash.

Now, whenever you and your buddies decide that you should drink more, just order, and mention your name. Or the bartender will simply recognize you, so that's even easier.

When you're ready to settle up, just say you want to settle your tab, and you'll be given your card back. Add in the tip and you're all set!

Happy drinking!

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