Different Types of Drunks and How to Deal with Them


You can know all of the bar lingo, the best types of shots, and ace every interview you ever have. But there’s one type of knowledge in particular that will make you more money than all of those combined. Yep, you read that right.

Knowing the different types of drunks and types of guests that will come to your bar will make you a ton of money in gratuity.

You might be questioning the logic, but hear me out. As a service employee, who pays your bills? The guest. So, knowing their personality traits and how to handle them is just as important as being able to make the drink itself.

Drinking buddies, college students, and Karen’s—no matter what type of client you’re dealing with in this article you’ll learn how to:

  • The different types of bar guests and regulars
  • Types of drunks
  • How to deal with a bunch of different personalities

The Most Common Folks You’ll Serve as a Bartender

The effects of alcohol can cause all sorts of personality changes. We’ll talk more about that here in a little bit. But, before their personality changes under the influence of alcohol, there are a few types of people you’ll commonly see when you’re bartending.

  • The Solo-Goer. Note we didn’t write single people. Just because someone is at your bar, alone, doesn’t mean they’re on the prowl. They might be out for lunch, have the day off, enjoy their own company, leaving an event, or are about to head off for business elsewhere.
  • The Couple. There’s nothing quite like bringing bae into a dimly lit bar and everyone knows it. You’ll get plenty of couples, both short and long-term, sitting at your bar.
  • The Group. Someone grab the shotski! When you see a group mobbing deep, there’s usually something that they’re celebrating. Think of a birthday party, bachelorette, or other events.

Different Types of Drunks (Says Science)

Some people say that alcohol affects their alter ego by lowering their inhibitions and increasing their agreeableness. And by affecting, we mean bringing it out completely. We like to think of it as a drunk personality. Science tells us there are a few different types of drunks, so let’s take a look.

According to the University of Missouri in Addiction Research & Theory, there are different four drunk personalities to look out for.

What are the 4 types of drunks? Let’s find out!

  1. Mary Poppins. When Mary Poppins gets drunk, they become much friendlier and sweeter, engaging more with those around him and saying more things.
  2. Mr. Hyde. Alcohol makes them less responsible, less intelligent, and hostile.
  3. The Nutty Professor. In sobriety, he can be very introverted but becomes extremely extroverted when drunk.  As a group, they tend to report the greatest discrepancy between their drunk and sober behavior.
  4. Ernest Hemingway. Apparently, Ernest Hemingway thought he could drink for days without getting drunk, which means that his personality didn’t change all that much when he wasn’t sober.

You might be wondering, what other types of drunks are there? Wonder no more. Here are the types of drunks you’ll encounter, without all the funny names.

  • Angry Drunks
  • Happy Drunks
  • Blackout Drunks
  • Sloppy Drunks
  • Affectionate Drunks
  • Reckless Drunks
  • Secret Drunks

Which one of these four types of drunks is your favorite to serve? Which kind of drunk are you?

How to Deal with All Types of Drunk (and Sober) People

Dealing with people is tough. Dealing with drunk people is even harder.

From serving, you might already know and understand that the couple sitting at the bar calls for a different level of service than a solo-goer does. And your group of friends celebrating a birthday will have different energy than a group coming back from a funeral. Yep, that can and will happen! Some folks are looking for a happy drunk while others are coming to drown their sorrows.

We recognize that all humans are different in their own right, but here’s what our industry veterans have to say about dealing with all types of drunk humans:

  • Don’t be afraid to cut someone off. Just because you‘re a provider of alcohol, doesn’t mean you are obligated to do so. Your first responsibility is to serve alcohol safely. So if someone is too drunk to even deal with, cut them off.
  • Adapt your service to match the guest’s energy. Is your drunk guest feeling social? Chat a bit more. Are they quiet and reclusive? They probably don’t want to talk. Matching their energy (as long as it’s safe) is always a good starting point to make sure they’re having a good time and to receive a good tip, too!
  • Enlist a sober friend or loved one. Too busy or don’t give enough f*$%’s to match anyone’s energy, let alone a drunk person’s? Don’t blame you. TIPS Training suggests bartenders look to the sober friend for help. I’ve tried it, and it works. If you want help with cutting the guest off or they’re not listening to your warnings to pipe down, simply tell the drunk person’s friend that they’re about to be cut off and kicked out if the rules aren’t followed.
Watch this video for a even more tips on cutting someone off.

The Influence of Alcohol is Real...

Hundreds of bartenders have been held responsible for overserving drunk people. Don’t be one of them.

We like to joke around here (honestly, it’s the best part of our job)! If we didn’t like to have fun, we wouldn’t be bartenders. But, we also realize alcohol abuse does happen. Alcohol addiction is real and as bartenders, we should be aware of it. Not only for ourselves (hello, shifty) but for our patrons! Addiction treatment is possible and resources are there for everyone.

So, what is the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic? Without going too much into the mental health world, a good thing to look out for is your guests who change dramatically when drinking. Research shows this is a sign of a more serious issue.

Now, Go Tend the Bar for All Those People!

Now that you know all of the different types of drunk people you’ll be serving and making drinks for, go get ‘em! You can identify who is who, adapt your style of service, and make a ton of money.

Still not quite ready for your bartending career? Local Bartending School is one of the top places in the U.S. and Canada to formally learn about the art of bartending and mixology.

Sick of the folks you’re serving to and working with? We understand that! Take your career to the next level and become an instructor at LBS today! Applications are now open. Hurry, before spots fill up!

Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean