Skip to main content

Apparently This Matters: How to get served at a bar

Positioning and eye contact is key. But if you want to get this guy's attention at the bar, it might take a little something extra. Positioning and eye contact is key. But if you want to get this guy's attention at the bar, it might take a little something extra.
How to get noticed by the bartender
Show up in costume
Wear a big, silly hat
Do ... whatever this is
Be the most interesting man in the world
Bring a small child
Dress up like a clown
Go back in time and be Ernest Hemingway
Bring your dog
Dye your hair
  • Researchers in Germany studied how bartenders respond to patrons wanting to order drinks
  • According to the study, waving money and shouting doesn't get you noticed at the bar
  • Ultimately, they hope to use the study to create artificial intelligence for a robot bartender

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

(CNN) -- Crammed three-deep at the bar on Friday night used to be my idea of good time. But years have passed, and now I prefer the quiet solitude of rearranging my sock drawer, pretending that TV commentators speaking proper British are doing the play-by-play.

"Extraordinary! We haven't seen color-coordinating like this since Liverpool 1974!"

In my younger days I was right there with the masses, holding up money trying to get noticed by the bartender and once again concluding that all this would be monumentally easier if I had ovaries.

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

Or if I weren't short. And gingery. And a mouth breather.

However, it apparently takes more than just physical attributes to get you noticed. A new trending study has come out that sheds scientific light on how to truly be the chosen one.

Apparently my Bar Mitzvah was all just a waste of time.

The study, recently published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, was conducted at Bielefeld University in northwest Germany, where researchers examined bar patrons there and in the neighboring town of Herford. They also looked at drinkers in Edinburgh, but I'm pretty sure that was just an excuse to use grant money to fund a three-day bender in Scotland.

Which I fully support.

There's nothing I don't like about the Scots, and their collective ability to cover a city sidewalk in a symphony of bodily fluids should be celebrated and admired.

Seriously. I was in Glasgow the night before a Celtic football match. I've witnessed things that cannot be unseen.

Oh, the humanity!

I\'d like to see a robot make THIS.
I'd like to see a robot make THIS.

Anyway, what the research ultimately discovered is that the key to getting noticed really isn't connected to looks, and has little to do with shouting or waving money or whistling. Save all that for when your friend Amy wisely decides to ride the mechanical bull.

(Viral Video Pro Tip: Remember to shoot the bull-riding vertically, and yell directly into the microphone.)

Alas, it seems that when you really need a drink, it all comes down to this: Stand perfectly square to the bar without wedging, and stare directly at the bartender.

Which is only creepy about 97% of the time.

Nevertheless, the study reveals that, "Both signals were necessary and when occurring together, sufficient."

So, putting it simply, the net result of all this money and all this research is to get as close as possible and make eye contact. You know ... as opposed to locking yourself in the bathroom and hoping the bartender just magically shows up with a Cuba Libre.

"Thanks, David Blaine!"

"(Sigh) Money's tight."

But while the findings don't exactly teach us anything overly useful, what was interesting is the reason why they conducted the study in the first place.

They're making a robot bartender.

Yes, this was really all about improving the artificial intelligence skills of JAMES, a prototype robot that stands for Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems. And I guess it's sort of a big deal.

Amazingly, the development of JAMES is being funded by a grant from the European Union.

To which Greece said, "That's terrific."

Believing it would take more than just vocal cues to get the tablet-headed robot to recognize customers, researchers set out to make JAMES more receptive to visual cues.

The study states that, "A bartending robot has to be able to distinguish between customers intending to order, chatting with friends or just passing by."

While the idea of having a robot bartender may sound harmless and interesting, and while I do appreciate the science, it concerns me that one day we might actually see JAMES -- or something like JAMES -- in use. And, thus, we'll have found a way to kill off one of the last great jobs that truly benefits from personal interaction.

Oh, the lack of humanity!

Follow Jarrett Bellini on Twitter.

Part of complete coverage on
Apparently This Matters...
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 2214 GMT (0614 HKT)
I vaguely recall Pizza Hut's Book It elementary school reading incentive program. Though, to be fair, I vaguely remember what I had for breakfast.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2337 GMT (0737 HKT)
It took a lot of effort for Leo Bonten to turn his amputated leg into a fully functional lamp. For starters, he had to break the damn thing in a freak kiddie pool accident.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0022 GMT (0822 HKT)
If you asked me -- and God knows nobody has -- I would have to guess that never in the history of humankind has anyone ever actually slipped on a banana peel.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2223 GMT (0623 HKT)
I'm a napper.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Since the beginning of time, man has looked up into the cosmos at those shiny, twinkling stars and thought, "I wonder if lizards would do each other up there?"
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1528 GMT (2328 HKT)
We all have weird, irrational concerns.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
"What does this thing do?"
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Despite all the political tension in Crimea, it's nice to know things are still safe enough at the zoo for a zebra to get it on with a donkey.
August 2, 2014 -- Updated 0141 GMT (0941 HKT)
Justin Sylvester's wife is pregnant. With a baby.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0010 GMT (0810 HKT)
There's a famous scene in the movie "Titanic" where Rose turns to Jack and says, "I want you to draw me like one of your French girls."
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
For several months in 2003, I did the whole European backpacker thing. Which is to say I've seen nearly every cathedral within 1,000 square miles of the Danube.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)
The other day I saw a death metal band hanging out by their tour van in the parking lot behind a club. They were all dressed in black, and may or may not have been working on lyrics to a new song about fire and lamb meat.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
There are two good reasons to own a giant trampoline.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 2251 GMT (0651 HKT)
I would love to say my dog is intellectually qualified to be a service animal. But he's not. There's barely enough brainpower there to be a lamp.
June 8, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
I've never really needed an extra ear.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 2032 GMT (0432 HKT)
I never actually caught a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy when I was young, but she was definitely real and in cahoots with my mom. This, due to the fact that I never woke up to find a Nintendo.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1957 GMT (0357 HKT)
Have you ever seen a man running in a marathon, bleeding from his nipples?
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 1952 GMT (0352 HKT)
Brace yourselves, because this week's story is about sperm and poop.