At a Democratic party fun-raiser in Atlanta last month, Jimmy Carter drew laughs when he referred to the social graces - or lack of them - top White House aide Hamilton Jordan has displayed during nights out in Washington. Several evenings later, after attneding another Democratic function in Washington, Jordan headed for a singles bar and found his approach to making friends unappreciated: after spitting his drink down a woman's blouse, Jordan received a sharp slap on the face.

The bar was Sarsfield's, a favorite of some Carter staffers. Friday night, January 27, Jordan and two acquaintances tried to strike up a conversation with an attractive advertising copywriter. The President's advisor introduced himself as "Harvey Phillips" and in the course of an hour of drinking, according to two witnesses, he wrote the woman a dirty limerick and rubbed the small of her back until the woman's repeated efforts to remove his hands finally discouraged him. When he failed to distract her from a conversation with another man, Jordan filled his mouth with his drink and spewed it down the front of her blouse.

"My back was to him," recalls the woman, who prefers to remain unnamed. "I turned around very quickly and he spit again, over a girl's head and down my blouse. I just couldn't believe it."

She slapped him and was immediately grabbed by one of Jordan's companions.

"He asked me how old I was. I said '26' and he said if you want to reach 27, you better get out of here. And Jordan began saying in a sing-song, 'You're such a lady . . .'"

Jordan and his companions demanded loudly the woman leave. Shaken, she paid her bill and departed.

Jordan, who recently separated from his wife, has developed a reputation for drinking and ungraceful behavior in the social arena. Early last fall, a young professional woman in Los Angeles stormed off the dance floor of a private club after Jordan, who had consumed beer heavily all evening, began "grabbing" her while dancing.

"What really offended me," the woman in California says, "was that someone so close to the President should have such an antiquated view of women. I'm from the South and it was abvious Jordan [and a friend] were Southerners; soem Southern men think there are two classes of women, the marrying kind and whores. They see something they want and they reach over, grab it and pull it over."

Jordan, according to the White House, has no comment on the Sarsfield's incident.