12 Shocking Realities Of Being A Cocktail Waitress, As Told By A Former Cocktail Waitress

Cocktail waitresses are truly the unsung heroes of the weekend. Sure, there is praise for the DJ who crushed it, the Uber driver who pulled over when you needed to vomit and, of course, the bouncer who thought you looked good enough to get into the club in the first place. On Sundays, there is praise for pizza and Netflix. Let's all not forget about the cocktail waitresses, delivering bottles of liquor with flaming sparklers attached, carrying heavy drink trays, and all the while, just trying not to sweat too much so they still look cute in their uniforms.

Let me tell you, as someone who was a cocktail waitress all through my college education, these women deserve all the praise in the world. Some people may unknowingly think that being a cocktail waitress is really just dressing up in a slutty uniform, serving overpriced bottles and beverages, and making an obscene amount of money since they don’t really do “work”. While some of those things may be part of the gig, those people couldn’t be more wrong. Being a cocktail waitress is much harder than it looks. The job is very physically demanding and filled with landmines, like sleazy guys and drunk girls. On top of that, you are the group's pilot for the evening, making sure that they have the time of their life.

The job is honestly a whole world that people don’t know about. Sure, you may go out to clubs very frequently, but the perspective of someone enjoying the night out is much different from the perspective of a cocktail waitress.

So, since I’ve seen some crazy things, I’m here to let you in on the world of cocktail waitresses - from the drugs, to the drunk girls, to the celebrities.

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9 You Get Used To Being Touched… Everywhere

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Small of the back, inner thigh, ass? Yes, complete strangers have touched me in all of those areas because they wanted to buy a bottle of liquor from me that was marked up about 5000%.

I really didn’t encourage this type of physical touching, but unfortunately when you need to hear your customer at a loud club, you have to lean in close enough, which puts the waitress’ body close enough for the ever so casual lower back rub.

The customer is always right – that’s the saying, right? I couldn’t really slap the guy’s hand and reprimand him. We were put into these little costumes to entice these guys to begin with so for the most part. As a cocktail waitress, you’re supposed to be attractive, fun and flirty, so a little hand-on-body action should be fine, even though it can be totally uncomfortable.

However, there are times when it goes too far. After having her butt slapped so hard it later bruised, I watched a fellow cocktail waitress dump a bucket of ice on the customer’s head. I applaud her. No complete stranger should ever bruise your butt.

8 You Know Every Popular Song

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Even though I didn’t listen to the radio much, I still knew the words to every single popular song due to the DJ's set list. This wasn't always a horrible thing but Sundays, I would undoubtedly wake up with a remixed version of Taylor Swift's latest song stuck in my head. Of course, this is far from the worst downside to the job. It was actually kind of nice getting to hear new music and essentially making money while doing so.

7 You Have The Same Conversations Over And Over And Over

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As a cocktail waitress (or anyone working in customer service actually) a lot of the chit chat you encounter over and over is similar to your basic first date chit chat. Well, basic first date taking place in a loud club chit chat.

Being that I’m a red head, guys will always ask if I’m a natural red head, if I’m Irish, if the carpets match the drapes – no, seriously, that last one was asked more times than you would think. You simply learn to play your role and fortunately, since you’ve been asked these questions time and time again, you already have the perfect witty answers for them, even if the questions is inappropriate.

6 Tabs Can Run Higher Than Your Yearly Salary

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The higher the tab the higher the tip, so dropping off a hefty tab to some dude at the end of the night usually helped me out monetarily. That being said, there is still a certain acid you feel when you drop a tab to someone that is higher than your yearly salary. How do they afford to spend $30K on a single Saturday night out? No, seriously, I want to know because making rent and paying off my student loans is a struggle.

8. Customers Dispute Their Tabs

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Since you’ve learned that people are willing to drop a pretty penny on bottle service, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that some people can’t afford bottle service, but that doesn’t stop them from getting it.

There are many different situations that can arise. Someone may not be able to afford bottle service but will still want to look cool so they order it anyway. In other cases, it may be a group of people all ordering different bottles without realizing that their friends are also ordering a shit ton of drinks. There are other factors, too, like forgetting about tax. Whatever the case may be, I have been in several situations of dropping off a tab at the end of the night to a customer who disputes it. Suddenly, they will claim to not have ordered certain bottles or will say anything they can to not fork up the money. I've actually witnessed people calling their friends (presumably with more money) to come pay their tab.

In the early morning hours, a cocktail waitress does not feel like arguing with you about your bill so please, just have the money to pay if you’re going to order bottle service.

5 You Could Carry An Elephant On A Drink Tray

I’m sure some people think that being a cocktail waitress is easy, that all we do is wear skimpy outfits and flirt with people for money. It’s actually a very physically taxing and difficult job. Clubs are big spaces and a cocktail waitress must be able to weave through the sea of people effortlessly, all while smiling and carrying a drink tray. Co-workers of mine were able to balance heavy trays on the tips of their fingers, weaving between drunk stumbling girls, all while still having the grace of a ballerina. It was truly impressive. I literally think they could carry a tray of martinis through a war zone.

4 You’re Allowed (And Sometimes Encouraged) To Drink On The Job

While some of these items might not really make you think that being a cocktail waitress is the coolest job in the world, this one might be a little enticing. While getting wasted was a big no-no (you don't want to be the sloppy cocktail waitress), drinking on the job wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. If some guy dropping a lot of money asked us to take a shot with him or have a glass of champagne with him, we were encouraged to entertain him. A drink of two could help make me feel more comfortable in the teeny uniform and loosen me up to be friendly with the VIP guests. So, while cocktail waitresses may spend their weekend nights working instead of partying, they can still manage to have a little bit of fun.

3 You’re Not Fazed By Much


After all the things I've seen while being a cocktail server, I'm not fazed by much. I've served celebrities and high profile guests, and even got to watch some of them be too drunk to walk out of the club. Seeing famous people in this state is a nice reminder that celebrities are really just people. Though, I might still get starstruck if I was to see, like, Brad Pitt, but he's Brad Pitt.

It's not just celebrities that lose their shock value. I've seen people doing many different varieties of drugs, sometimes right off their bottle service table. I've seen people in different stages of foreplay, right there out in the open. Bathrooms were always reserved for sex or for someone nearly dying of alcohol poisoning. Being a cocktail waitress truly introduces to some dark parts of humanity, that funnily enough, most of the culprits won't remember the next morning.

2 You’re Lucky To Get Home From Work Before Sunrise

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Depending on where you live, bars close at different times. I worked in Philadelphia, where last call was at 2 a.m. I remember one time a customer trying to entice me to hang out after work. When I kindly explained that I’m not just done at 2 a.m., his mind was blown. When the lights would come on, there was the cleaning up of the place and the breaking down of the bottle service tables. We would finally sit down at 3:00 a.m. to do our check outs. We would sit there, dizzy from the hours of hard work, loud music, and a dark club, trying to do math. All in all, we were lucky to get home by 4 a.m.

1 Sundays Are For Rest

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This reality should come as no surprise following the last one. After being physically and mentally exhausted, and finally crashing into bed at 5 a.m., it is only natural to, well, sleep in a bit. Yes, the night before, I may have been wearing a little black costume and prancing around with sparklers attached to bottles of liquor, but on Sundays, I would rest.

Next time you get bottle service and have a hot server, just remember that on Sundays, she, like everyone else, is in sweatpants, eating takeout and binge-watching House of Cards.

2. You Get Used To Making A Lot Of Money

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After graduating college and getting a “real job", I suddenly missed the loud music, heavy trays, and navigating a large, drunk crowd. While having regular work hours, vacation time and sick days were amazing parks, there is a sad, underwhelming feeling when I would get a paycheck for two weeks’ worth of work and it amounted to what I could have made on one Saturday night.

Sure, the jobs one gets right out of college don’t pay much more than minimum wage and that is okay, but having known the ease of making enough money to pay my rent and then some in one night, that measly "real job" paycheck is pretty sad. This is not to say that being a cocktail waitress is easy money. It is a very physically demanding job with obstacles like drunk girls and creepy guys often getting in the way.

1. Your Fellow Cocktail Waitresses Become Family

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This may not be the case with every single club, as girls (especially cocktail waitresses) can be cutthroat at times, but some of my coworkers became my best friends, and why wouldn’t they? We were war buddies after all. Every Saturday night, we’d enter into the crazy world of being a cocktail server and we were really the only ones who understood it.

My fellow cocktail waitresses were the ones I complained to about a bad tip or the dude at table 21 who kept touching me. They were the ones with whom I celebrated a good tip. They were the only ones who understood the difficulties and the benefits of being a cocktail server. After spending years of Saturday nights together, we may have missed the opportunity to go out with our friends but, among the sparklers and loud music, we found new friendships within each other.

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