Bartending

Valuable Advice Every Bartender Needs To Know.

By: Cayla. M

5-3-19
SideshowPete ori-song elegant bar plants fancy hipster

Bartending as a profession is honestly harder than it looks, and that’s because new bartenders get bad advice and have unreasonable expectations. A lot of new bartenders jump in thinking it’s just one big party.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the long run because bartenders exist to facilitate a good time. But, some people find themselves saying, “Shit… I wish I would have known that…” after they’ve spent some time in the industry. (At least, I did.)

Here is some bartending advice you should know if you’re wanting to join one of the best careers in the world.

Be Knowledgeable, and Teachable

Cut Class

Don’t go to bartending school unless you like wasting money– it’s not mandatory. All you’ll learn are bad habits someone else will have to train out of you, and maybe a few halfway decent practices that still won’t help.

Alcohol Awareness Training will let the state know you’re certified to handle alcohol, and it’s infinitely cheaper. (Your employer will pay to renew your certification in the future, too.)

Every bar is its own beast, and every bar owner uses a different system. Be prepared to be adaptable.

Know Your Flavors

Making great cocktails requires knowing the chemistry of flavors. Commit to knowing classics for your foundation, but don’t stick to them strictly and fall into rigidity.

Most of the time, bartenders are working with classic drinks and a set menu (again, depending on the bar or owner’s system,) but you always have to be prepared for random requests or undecided patrons who want you to choose for them.

This is actually one of the most fun parts of bartending– creating new, custom-made drinks. Delighting your customers and taping into your creative side is very rewarding.

If you need to learn your bartending recipies try an app! This blog post we wrote on bartending apps is perfect to help you find the right one.

Sideshow Pete melissa-walker-horn drinks lemon lime fruit red cocktail

Don’t bullshit Your Resume

Fun fact: every bartender in America knows each other. Especially in your town. They all convene after the weekend war has been won, and they love checking out each other’s spaces.

Bartenders never forget each other and they never forget patrons. You’ll definitely be a joke if you think you can get away with lying on paper.

Be honest about your experience. As I said, every bar is different, and you’re going to end up training anyway.

A Sideshow Pete Product:

101 Ways to Amuse/Abuse A Bar-Fly

A Perfect Gift For Bartenders and Cocktail Lovers!

Sideshow Pete Bar Trick Book 101 Ways to Amuse Abuse a Bar-Fly Hand Holding Book
Learn More About 101 Ways To Amuse/Abuse a Bar-Fly Here.

Don’t Be Shitty At Math

Count your Pour

Counting is truly the rhythm of the job and the variables are never-ending. It all starts with the pour.

When you’re picking up a bottle and you’re pouring it into a glass, that’s going to have a certain pour speed based on what sort of spout you have and what kind of spirit it is. Don’t depend on those weird pre-measured spouts, either. The ball bearings inside of them will fail eventually.

You definitely need to know how to count so you can be consistent in your drink making abilities. Classics taste the way they do because they’re balanced– this goes back to understanding the chemistry of flavors.

Not only is knowing your pour vital for inventory purposes, but it’s also incredibly important in terms of safety. A heavy hand only means less booze for your boss to sell, less drinks to ultimately be purchased by patrons.

Heavy pouring also means more drama for you when you have to cut someone off for going past their limit. Understand your pour.

Count Your Drawer

The cash is another important count, as a bartender. Mentioning this might seem redundant, but it needs to be said. Cash handling behind the bar is the business.

When it’s slammed and you’re going back-to-back on drink orders to clear the bar, you don’t have time to run to the register with the expectation that it will do the math for you. You need to be quick with your counting and up to date on your bar’s menu pricing to be a good bartender.

SideshowPete taylor-davidson man waiting behind bar candid

Remember Drink Orders and More

You need to be good at keeping track of customers’ drinks! Again, this is a safety must and kind of a no-brainer. You’re in charge and you’ve got to be good at multitasking; if you can’t oversee your patrons and stay in control of all situations, you’re going to struggle.

Setting Boundaries

Social Skills

You’re going to have to be nice to people because this is the service industry and honestly, your customers deserve the absolute best. But you don’t want to be too nice and find yourself taken advantage of.

It’s lame to say, but people will try to take advantage of your good nature. Be professional, flexible, and firm.

You should also know that people will hit on you a lot– you’ve got a good paying job, you’re hot, and you know how to have fun. Getting romantically involved with customers is usually a bad idea, though. Don’t shit where you eat, as they say. If you’re not good at setting boundaries, you’ll probably want to avoid this line of work.

The Friend Zone

Don’t treat your friends too well! They should be there to support you, not the other way around. Instead of charging next to nothing on a tab, give them the same service you’d give any good customer. If someone consistently comes in with the expectation of you hooking them up, you should know they’re not your friend and you need to be assertive.

When The Party is Over

Cutting someone off will be one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. Some people just love to push their limit and unfortunately, it’s bound to happen on one of your shifts.

You shouldn’t have to tell a grown ass man when he’s done, but adulthood and responsibility don’t always go hand in hand. Laying down the law’s 100% on you.

This is your domain and your responsibility, and how you handle the situation will dictate how it affects you and your money. If you got ‘em, don’t be afraid to ask security for a hand, but never rely on anyone else to do this part of the job for you.

Sideshow Pete - Drunk man holding a drink and sleeping on a tableSideshowPete

Conclusion

No matter if you are just getting started in the world of bartending or have years under your belt, keeping your skills sharp is essential. Good bartenders keep their inventory tight, their drawers balanced, and their customers happy. And we all know that happy customer is a repeat customer.

If you want more tips and advice on bartending be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest from Sideshow Pete.