“Put it on my tab” is such a cool phrase, but it’s not always a cool practice and there are several reasons you should never open a bar tab. We came up with four of these reasons, which don’t even include the chance of your tab being added up incorrectly—not in your favor—or being accidentally switched with the guy who just ordered a $500 bottle of scotch. Those errors are rare, although these four reasons you should never open a bar tab are far more common.
You’ll have to wait for the tally. Say you’re done drinking and ready to go. You pay your tab and skedaddle, right? Wrong. When you open a bar tab you have to wait until the bartender has a moment to tally it up, hand it over and run your payment through. If you wait until closing to tally out, you’ll be waiting behind handful of other goofballs who also thought it brilliant to open tabs. By then your buzz may have wore off, but you can’t even add another beer.
It makes you look broke. Bar tabs are typically for the very rich at ritzy places or for the broke dude who spends his entire paycheck before he even gets it. We’re guessing you’re close to the latter. Opening a bar tab makes your station known to everyone in the bar, including that cute chick over there who was going to let you buy her a drink until she realized how broke you are.
It makes you look like a lush. C’mon, you really expect to drink so much you don’t have the cash in your pocket cover it? Not only are you already publicly branded as broke, but now everyone at the bar also knows you’re a total lush. Once you open a bar tab, you fall into the category of Henry in “Barfly,” a movie based on the life of the drunken and swollen poet Charles Bukowski. But at least he could still write a killer poem when tipsy.
It can make you bankrupt. With all the drinking and dancing and carrying on, you’re likely to forget about your bar tab somewhere throughout the course of the evening. This is not a good thing, especially since you were trying to impress all your fellow barflies with rounds of drinks and that cool phrase, “Put it on my tab.” Once you get the bar tab, there’s no telling how long it will take you to pay it off. If you hadn’t been living paycheck to paycheck yet, you might be after a doozy of a bar tab.