Bartender Story Problems

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If you don’t tend bar for a living, or haven’t at some point in your past, you probably don’t understand the quick thinking that we have to do every single second. So, in order to demonstrate what sort of complicated math we do regularly to those who don’t tend bar, and to act as a sort of fun series of brainteasers to those who do, I present to you bartender story problems. Enjoy. Cheers.

And please post your answers in the comment section.

    1. Paula is 42 years old. She weighs 127 pounds and is 5’-8” tall. If she consumes one Grey Goose and soda every 40 minutes for 3 hours, how many seconds does it take for her to scream “Opa!” when the bartender accidentally drops a pint glass on the floor?
    2. Greg’s bar tab is $157.30. If he wants to leave the bartenders an 18% gratuity, plus an extra $1.50 for each drink he received on the house, how long after he’s left the building will it take for the barback to notice he took the signed copy with him?
    3. Susan has one 6-oz glass of wine and four 10-oz glasses of water over the course of the 2 hours she spends at the bar. Assuming she makes one trip to the restroom for every 15 ounces of liquid consumed, how many trips will it take before her creepy Tinder date makes a rapey comment about slipping a roofie in her drink while she was away?
    4. Chad does not believe in washing his hands when he uses the restroom. If he consumes 8 pints of Coors Light over the course of 3 hours, and eats 2 olives from the bartender’s garnish tray for every trip he makes to the toilet, how many people can he get sick in one night? (Assume 120-seat restaurant for this problem, and show your work.)
    5. Kyle, Aidan, and Madison have been cut off by the bartender and are planning to share an Uber home. If Muhammed is 4.7 miles away, traveling at an average of 28 miles an hour with very little traffic, how long does the group have to make inappropriate comments about his ethnicity before he arrives to pick them up at the bar?
    6. Tristan has been tending bar for exactly three months. He can serve the following number of guests over the course of the next week:
      Monday: 37 people
      Tuesday: 45 people
      Wednesday: 62 people
      Saturday: 119 people.
      Assuming these totals are the same as the mean averages for the next three weeks, how many people will pretend to care about the housemade birch bark bitters he’s working on?
    7. Kayla is walking to a neighborhood bar located .73 miles from her house, at a pace of 2.39 miles per hour. Last call is in 2 hours. If she reads a Dr. Oz article about wheat allergies right before leaving the house, how many times will the bartender be informed that Tito’s is the only gluten-free vodka before closing?
    8. Leaf, McKenzie, and Willow split a four-course meal with cocktails and wine, and their bill is $187.50. Assuming they calculate a gratuity of 1g of marijuana per every $20 spent, how much money will their server need to collect from her other tables in order to pay her rent?
    9. A 12-person bachelor party has chosen a Tiki bar to spend the night drinking in. If the bar carries 127 different types of rum, and each member of the party can consume one glass of rum every 22.6 minutes, how many times will the best man ask the staff about the availability of Pappy Van Winkle?
    10. Cody is a professional athlete. He weighs 223.81 pounds, is 6’ -1.22” tall, and has a BMI of 29.21. His yearly salary is $242,000, which makes his weight-to-dollar ratio $1081.2743 dollars/pound. Solving for X, how many pounds per square inch of pressure will he be able to apply to the bartender when asking for a free birthday shot for the girl he just met?


Hayley has a ticket up for 1 Ramos Fizz, 3 Mojitos, 1 Pisco Sour, and a well vodka tonic. Assuming she can make an average of one drink every 45 seconds, how many minutes will she spend running around the restaurant looking for all the components for the herbal tea someone just ordered?

28 Replies to “Bartender Story Problems”

  • Cathy says:

    I definitely feel that “running around to find the herbal tea” scenario… and then the next step is finding a sugar caddy, *clean* tea pot, cup, and a spoon that is appropriately sized. PLOT TWIST: only soup spoons are clean and ready to go.

  • Mike K says:

    This was fantastic. Well played, sir.

  • Joseph says:

    You are working at a distillery/bar, & 7-9 people aged 45-60 years old walk in. Estimate how many times you’ll have to clarify that you don’t offer beer, wine or competitors spirits before Karen tips you $1 per craft cocktail?

  • Kyle says:

    If Nick stirs an average of 5 manhattans, 3 martinis, and 2 negronis per shift, how many cocktails will he be able to make before breaking the brand new Yarai mixing glass again?

  • Lani Kai says:

    Sorry. I might know the joker who answered all the questions. If he’s the Gelfand that I know, he’s a numbers analyst like me, so we’re inclined to want to actually answer these like the assholes we are.

  • Tom says:

    Sadly, I’ve been that best man in 9.

  • Chris says:

    7. Tell her to get the Ion Vodka instead, its better than Tito’s and produced in Bend!

  • Dave Rowdie says:

    There are plenty more Gluten Free Vodkas.

    I hate that I have to know this.

  • Brendan says:

    If there’s anything I learned from watching Community, it’s that if you were running a really classy joint, that bowl of olives would have been in the bathroom in the first place.

  • Jose Mixto says:

    You and Felipe have been working an otherwise quiet mid-week night shift. Sheila just got the go-ahead to break down her well and clock out for the night. How many bottles/surfaces does she polish before the bartender who had the night off and his group of 7 drunk friends raid the bar 10 minutes before closing and act indignant when you seem pissed you have to run and grab them more Fernet and change out the half barrel in the beer fridge that’s jammed with waitstaff Pellegrino?

    Bonus Question – Does your stress induced ulcer kick in after they ask you if they’ll “see you out there tonight?!!?!”

  • Paul Maloney says:

    Bargebra 101 with Dr. Morganthaler

  • Rick Dobbs says:

    Geoffrey (Name changed to protect the guilty) writes articles about things like gluten-free vodkas and ways to make Alabama Slammers have a higher pour cost.

    If he writes 4 menus a year and one book, how many times will he get snubbed at Tales?

  • Wine Harlots says:

    Out loud, I say “hashtag AnotherReasonWhyIDrink.”

    Keep up the good fight.

    All the best,


  • Boozemonkey says:

    I’ll have you know my Red Bull bitters were quite the hit. A hit I tells ya!

  • Yes, Tristan, that is you. And me and every bartender who started in the last decade and every bartender forever who will compete in the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender.

    Math is real life, you guys! ????

  • rich biermann says:

    12- angelo just clocked in for his closing shift. how tired is shannon after working here 3 hour, $400 sales mid-shift? extra credit: how much sleep did shannon get last night? considering her admitted fatigue, how much sleep will she get this night? extra bonus: what seat number is the guy that’s really creeping her out and who she wants to cut off at?

  • rich biermann says:

    3- how much does susan tip on her one glass of wine, 5 waters, and 3 hours of your persistent attention? $1.

    11- i bet that was hayley’s first ticket of the night too. dont forget to change that keg of lager that blew after you took your first order hayley!

  • Tristan Willey says:

    But they are good! Really really good bitters! I’ve got the maceration just about dialed in, and I bet you can’t guess that secret hint of something special I added? Hold out your hand, no seriously, hold it out, just a drop on the back, make sure you smell it first. Get it? Isn’t awesome? I bottle it in my basement.

  • Chris says:

    The answer is 4. It’s always 4. That’s what time we close.

  • JMForester says:

    Aaargh! Now I have a headache. And I also just lost several minutes of my life reading that, and I want them back! Plus reimbursement for the Advil. I will come to collect them in person in 3 weeks. You are hereby notified.

  • gelfand says:

    1. true
    2. C
    3. yes
    4. 4π
    5. 17¢/lb
    6. false
    7. 4.622°N
    8. Mozart
    9. ∑ (2xr)
    10. D, all of the above
    11. ∞

  • Josh says:

    If one bar manager puts 75% of the fears and annoyances of 100% of all bartenders into 11 story problems, how many hours will I not sleep tonight, reliving these scenarios in my head? Ugh, Tristan and Cody…

  • John Claude says:

    Are you getting the weed tips too? I had a guy who would always palm me a nug of grass every time he ate and leave that as the tip. I don’t even smoke. Granted, he just got a bowl of ramen, so it’s not a thing.

  • Portico says:


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