Turning 21 is a huge milestone in most young Americans' lives. The moment the clock strikes midnight on your birthday and you step into your first bar (legally) is a moment most of us will never forget.

But just because it's your 21st birthday doesn't mean you can skip out on tipping the bartender or get sloppy drunk and fight the guy sitting next to you.

If you want to be ahead of your time, here are some pointers to help make your first bar experience a winner, not a loser.

1. Always tip.

coffee, beer, tea, pizza
Judy Holtz

You may be a broke college student who barely has enough money to pay for your uber home. We've all been there. If that's the case, don't go out for drinks. The bartenders may also be students or full-timers trying to make a living. Tip at least $1 per drink and you're good to go.

2. Have your money ready when ordering.

On a busy Friday night, bartenders are trying to meet the demands of as many customers as possible. To make everyone's day a little bit easier, have your money ready in hand.

3. Wait your turn.

Don't be that guy (or girl) who pushes to the front, lunges over the bar and yells for the bartender. Most likely, the bartender will ignore you until everyone else has been served. Just be calm with your money in hand and wait your turn like everyone else.

4. Don't expect to be served if you've had too much to drink.

Most bartenders can tell when a person has had too much to drink. If you begin to get sloppy, don't be surprised if they ask you to close your tab and leave. If this happens, respect the bartenders wishes and go home, which leads me to the next tip.

5. Pace yourself.

Don't get me wrong, it might seem like the best idea to do five car-bombs in a row, but believe me, it might not be all fun and games in the end.

Pace yourself. It's OK to take it slow. Hey, you'll probably even save some money doing it.

6. Don't mix too many types of alcohol.

Beer, wine and whiskey, oh my! When it's your first time at a bar, the menu seems like the perfect place to experiment the world of alcohol. But try not to mix too many drinks. Again, take it slow. There will be plenty of other bar nights for you to explore what the menu has to offer.

7. Close your tab before you leave the bar.

This tip can save you from having to run back to the bar at 2 am to retrieve your credit card in your PJs. Opening a tab is great, just remember to close out your tab when you want to head home.

8. Know how you're getting home.

First of all, don't drive. Instead, have a reliable plan before you head out. It may save you from wandering home alone at 2 am. The best thing to do is to find a designated driver, or better yet, call an Uber. 

9. Don't expect free drinks.

There's nothing wrong with looking extra cute at the bar, but don't expect that flirting with the bartender will get you off the hook. Be classy and show your friends you can afford to by your own vodka-cranberry.

10. Don't leave your drink unattended.

This one might sound like a cliché, but it's actually one of the most important tips to follow. You never know the intentions of a stranger, or even the kid in your math class. Also, you just paid for that. Don't let anyone try to claim your drink.