Anyone who follows me knows that I do not go to great lengths to sell my book on this blog because I refuse be that salesy cheeseball who pretends he’s writing for the joy of writing but really has an alternative motive. The only bullshit I throw at you is the transparent kind that you can all see coming a mile away. Though the book has been well-recieved based on the emails I get and the reviews it has produced so far, I do not spend a great deal of time trying to sell it.
Still, since its release five months ago, several hundred copies have been sold and the more books that sell, the more emails I receive from people asking advice on how to get a bartending job, so instead of continuing to email people individually, here is some no-nonsense advice on what you need to do if you want to become a bartender. Then, if you are really serious and want a detailed plan of action on how to proceed with your dream of becoming a bartender, stop being a cheap ass and buy the fucking book. It’s over on the left side of this blog, it’s ten bucks and has a pretty picture of some guy I don’t know on the cover pouring a shot of something that looks like motor oil. There. That’s my sales pitch.
First of all, you should know that there are more than 50,000 bars in the United States alone. Second, bartending is recession-proof and has been for decades, even centuries. People drink when they celebrate, they drink when they’re depressed, and they drink when they’re lonely and downright horny. People will always come up with money for booze because it’s an addiction, and I don’t just mean the alcohol itself. They CRAVE the social scene.
With that said, if you REALLY want to become a bartender…
1. Get some balls! I’m serious. This might sound crude, and it wouldn’t have come to mind before I wrote the book, but you should see some of the meek, wishy-washy people that email me: ”I really want to bartend but I don’t really interview well,” or “I’m kind of shy and I’m not sure I can talk with people.” Seriously, if you want something, get clear, get decisive, make a plan and take action. Stop making excuses. If you don’t have balls (girls), grow some or go ahead and continue on your path of mediocrity. Just leave me out of it.
2. Make a plan. Randomly wandering out to bars to look for a job without a detailed plan is about as effective as cutting someone’s hair while blindfolded. Both end in ugly results. This is why bartending schools are such a joke. They teach you bartending skills you can learn from a book and then they claim to assist in “job placement” but they have no plan for you. They hand you a list of bars in the area and show you the door. Gee thanks. So glad I spent $700 for that bit of “job placement” magic. I don’t have the time or space to cover the plan here. The book covers it in great detail.
3. Set goals. Yeah, I know you probably don’t want to hear a bunch of Tony Robbins crap right now, but if you want to get a bartending job, you need to make a great plan and part of that plan is setting goals. Did you know that only 3% of people set long term goals? And did you know that those 3% make more money than the other 97% combined? Yeah, I bet you’re sharpening your pencils right now, aren’t you?
4. Create a dynamic resume and cover letter. This is where 90% of aspiring bartenders fail. You can put yourself way ahead of the game by creating a resume with some creativity and pizazz. You aren’t applying for a job as a floor manager on the New York Stock Exchange. You want to create something memorable, and as a bartender, your resume should reflect your personality (assuming you have one). Which leads us into #5:
5. Have a personality. If I only had one word to describe what it takes to be a bartender, it would be “Sexy”. Just kidding (kind of). Personality and good cocktails are why people come to see you. If you don’t have a personality, refer back to rule number 1. *Side note: If you are extremely attractive, you still need a personality but not as much. It’s like being a basketball player with a 48 inch vertical jump. He may not be able to shoot worth a shit, but you want him on the court just for the pure showmanship.
6. Find your inner-Buddah. You will need mucho patience to be a bartender night in and night out. Just look up all the server and bartender blogs on the Internet right now and report back to me the percentage of those blogs that are used for ranting, raving and bitching. I estimate it at around 96.4%. People can be assholes when they go out to eat and drink, and you are the dirt they shit on.
7. Have a passion for it. But not the preachy kind of passion that bores the shit out of people because you’re trying to educate them on the history of Scotch and the entire fermentation and distillation process (it’s important to know that stuff as a bartender, I’m just not sure why yet). Still, you should love creating cocktails, discussing it with the people who are interested, and always looking to learn more. I know I write a lot of cynical, sarcastic stuff, but I do love what I do and it shows when I spend time with my guests. If you have a passion for cocktails, wine and beer, it will be obvious, especially during an interview with a bar manager or owner.
8. Know your shit. This is sort of a sub-category to #7. If you know nothing about liquor, beer or wine, it’s ok, but you need to study up on it before you go looking for a job. Do not think because you have little knowledge or experience that you can’t get a bartending job. That is an untruth and a myth. You just need to be properly trained and you need a plan (that plan does NOT include going to bartending school, by the way).
9. Build a following. This is akin to creating a network of contacts in the business world. The bigger following you create, the bigger legend you become, the more the manager and owner love you, which in turn means you will make more money. Use your personality, your patience and your passion to do this. And your balls. Don’t forget your balls, Sally.
10. Be reliable. The best bartenders I ever worked with did more than go through the motions and try to look cool. This isn’t a movie, you aren’t Tom Cruise. If you go above and beyond to take care of your guests and work your ass off behind the bar, you will be noticed and you will be VALUABLE to your bar. Value = Get whatever shifts you want.
I don’t mean to come across as brash, but becoming a bartender is about getting in a kick-ass state of mind and going for it. Despite what you may have heard, ANYONE can become a bartender and land a job, even with little or no experience. You are not applying to become an advisor to the President of the United States. Study your drinks, make a plan, set goals, take action. It’s that simple.
Cheers until next time,
Watch the video on what you need to do to become a bartender: