We tap big-city bartenders (plus two bartenders-turned-dating authors) for their expert dish on pick-up tactics: what works, what gets the laugh and what'll go down in flames.
Liz, Los Angeles
"Just outside the door, some guy is trying to chat up a girl, and tells her he's the heir of some wealthy family and has 'more money than God.' Obviously she's skeptical... to the point, in fact, where she says she wants to see his ID. Shockingly, he actually hands it over -- it's in the little plastic holder in his wallet. As she's looking at it, a bum walks by and asks if anyone has a dollar to spare.
"She says...'Well, if you've got more money than God, then you don't mind if I do THIS, right?' And she takes all the money out of the guy's wallet and gives it to the bum, who says 'Thank you!' and disappears as fast as he can. The girl bats her eyelashes at the horrified big-talker, hands him his wallet and heads back inside. He leaves a few minutes later."
Moral of the Story: Don't boast. Or in other words, don't sell yourself so outrageously that people will ask to see backup data.
Liz adds, "It's true, the size of your billfold might matter to a lot of ladies. But even so, if you immediately start bragging about it, you'll look like a jerk -- and there's always that one girl out there who will call you on it."
Bryan, Los Angeles
"When I worked in the business district, we'd get packs of after-work corporate-type guys who would hit on every single girl at the bar and basically chase all the women away. Four different guys would come in and, together, they'd work every female. One guy would buy drinks for a group of girls on his friend's tab, and then play the 'wingman' and tell his friend, 'Go try those girls, I just bought them drinks.' It was an obvious example of quantity over quality... and it never worked because the girls would invariably catch on. At the end of the night, four guys would have been putting everything on one guy's tab, and he would start screaming, 'How did you make me drink this much?' And I'd be like, 'Your friend bought drinks for every single woman in this bar.'"
Moral of the Story: Where to begin? For starters, have a little class, please. For seconds, give ladies some credit for being savvy about the pick-up. It'll save you a lot of grief. And finally... know who's piggy-backing on your tab, OBVIOUSLY.
Bryan says, "My own personal line that I used when I was younger, not when I was bartending, was 'I hear you like cheese.' Yeah, it's silly, but you filter out people with no sense of humor immediately. And I wasn't always trying to get into someone's pants. That's the difference between being in New York city and being in a bar in any other place in the world in the world. In other places, people don't necessarily want to get action, they just want to talk."
Marianna, San Francisco
"One guy was a writer, and he wrote a story on me. And I'm actually going out with him this weekend. So, yeah, that worked but most attempts to hit on me or the customers are pretty lame. But there have been times where people have said the most outrageous things and because they were clever, I didn't get angry. I still didn't go out with them, but you know...
"I actually had someone ask me the other night, 'How do I pick up on girls at bars, anyway?' I thought that was pretty smart in itself, actually, because he got me talking to him and in the process got tips on what to do and not do."
Moral of the Story: If you're clever, you can get away with a lot. But if you've got time and energy to have a genuine conversation and do "follow-up," your chances increase exponentially.
Marianna says, "I think the key is to not hit on someone too blatantly. Be funny, don't be too direct and try to come back more than once -- maybe a week later or something."