7 Helpful Tips for New Bartenders

Getting into the business of bartending can seem like an intimidating feat. Bartenders have to think and act quickly, all while displaying an air of attentiveness, patience, and the pleasure to serve. Choosing to become a bartender is, therefore, no small decision, but the rewards can make it more than worth it. If you’re willing to dedicate some time to learning the art of beverage service, bartending can be one of the best and most lucrative job choices you ever make. Before you take the plunge, consider some simple tips that will help you ace your interview and ensure that your tip jar is never empty. 

1. Boost Your Memory

One of the most important qualities of a good bartender is a solid short-term memory. Obviously, you should be familiar with the recipes for popular drinks. Knowing how to make a Lemon Drop Shot is not the end of your memory worries, though. You’ll need to keep up with multiple orders at one time, matching the correct one with the correct patron. You’ll need to know who is on what tab at what table, as well as which patrons are regulars who expect you to remember both them and their usual order. 

2. Know Your Stock

If you’re missing any ingredients from your bar, it’s important to know that and communicate that with patrons. This is especially crucial if you’re in a position to recommend or customize drinks. There is nothing worse than helping an undecided guest settle on a drink of choice, only to turn around to make the drink and realize you don’t have those ingredients available. 

3. Keep Everything Clean

Other than a good attitude, cleanliness is perhaps the most crucial element of successful bartending. Understandably, patrons are not interested in buying drinks from a bar that appears dirty, littered with crumpled napkins and sweaty, empty glasses. As with cooking, it’s useful to clean as you go in order to prevent things from piling up and becoming a huge chore during peak bar hours. 

4. Don’t Play Favorites

It may be tempting to treat some guests better than others based on their behaviors, orders, and communications with you. This is a common pitfall for bartenders, however, as patrons tend to pick up on your differing attitude. If a guest feels they are being treated unfairly, they may even take things to management, meaning not only fewer tips but also fewer work opportunities.  

5. Be Prepared 

In any industry that works with the general public, it’s essential to come prepared for unexpected and unexplained human behavior. This is even more exaggerated in the service industry, where alcohol often enters the equation. Knowing how to deal with patrons who are difficult or even aggressive is a necessary quality for successful bartending. 

6. Be Smart 

Like preparedness, being aware of your surroundings helps ensure that you never end up in a sticky situation. Keep in mind that serving underage or overserved patrons can be a legally punishable offense, even if the patron is using false identification or appears to be sober. If someone looks or acts suspiciously, take the necessary steps to protect yourself by carding them or cutting off their service. 

7. Be Nice 

The most important quality of a successful bartender is a positive attitude. Guests don’t want to spend their free time interacting with sour employees, and they’ll remember any mistreatment when they go to tip you at the end of the night. 

Bartending is a fast-paced job that requires the presence of mind and body in chaotic situations. Consider starting small to avoid getting overwhelmed, and practice mixing so that it becomes ingrained in your physical memory. With some time and patience, mastering these essentials can set you well on your way to a comfortable career in the service industry.

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Last modified: May 29, 2021



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