BARTENDING SKILLS YOU NEED TO HAVE
Do you want to become a bartender? I mean, do you REALLY want to become a bartender?
Well, you aren’t going to learn how to bartend just from reading one blog post, but it will give you an an idea and an overview of what it takes to be a great bartender.
Each of these 10 skills is covered in greater depth in my online bartending course, TheRealBarCourse, along with other bartending skills of course, including how to memorize drink recipes, which reminds me, if you’re so inclined, you can get my free video lesson on the 5 Steps to memorizing cocktail recipes quickly by clicking here.
With that said, let’s not mess around and waste any more time, like an addicted-to-Forte-Night-and-other-video-games teenager.
10 Things Great Bartenders Know How to Do
This is one of the top skills you need to learn. Speed and efficiency are king when it comes to bartending. In this day and age, nobody wants to wait and everybody expects what they ordered to show up NOW. So not only do you need to be fast, but you need to be able to have some multitasking tips and tricks to make sure you’re as efficient as possible. I have just such a video for you to watch when you’re done with this one that will show you those techniques. It’s right here.
2. Clean as They Work
Yeah, I know. Not exactly what you pictured when becoming a super-amazing rockstar bartender. After all, you never see Tom Cruise cleaning up in the movie Cocktail, right? All you see is his gorgeous, yet somehow creepy smile, as he flips bottles, shakes up drinks and sleeps with beautiful women on the beaches of the Caribbean.
However, in order to run a successful bar that people want to return to, you need to learn to clear glasses – as well as plates if they serve food at the bar – and wipe down any condensation, puddles and stickiness that will inevitably happen while you work.
In addition, you need to be willing to clean at the end of the night. That means a thorough wipe down of the entire bar. The sinks, the glass doors of the coolers, put away fruit, wipe down the beer towers and all stainless surfaces. Nobody wants to come to a bar that looks and smells like a teenage boy’s bedroom during the puberty years. Your mama don’t work here, so strap your cleaning bandana on.
3. Provide Fantastic Customer Service
This is sort of a “No Duh!” one. I know it’s cliche, and the fact is, no matter what business you’re in, providing optimal customer service is important, but none more important than the hospitality business.
Let me tell you a little secret: people are not coming in to your bar for the food and drinks. Ok, they are coming for those things, but the #1 thing they are coming in for is a great experience, and the food and drink are just two components of that experience.
You need to view things from their perspective. They’ve been working all day, and during that time, they’ve been the ones who have had to provide good customer service to whoever they’ve been helping and they’ve also been dealing with difficult and high-maintenance people as well, so when they come in to have a drink, they want to be treated like royalty.
That means it’s your job to make them feel special and taken care of, whether that’s preparing the perfect Manhattan or just listening to them about how their kid got an A in eating paste or whatever. You do that, and you’ll create a raving group of regulars that will come in over and over again to see you and tip you really well.
And pay for your drunken nights out.
4. How to Make the Classics
Let’s face it, if you don’t know how to make the most popular drinks, you’re just a jackass with a cool job and a bottle opener. That doesn’t mean you need to have an endless database of drinks filed away in your head, but you should know how to make the classics and you should know how to make the top 50 most popular cocktails. Again, if you click on the link below, you can get my free video lesson on the 5 steps to memorizing drink recipes quickly. It’s pretty frickin’ cool.
5. How to Pour draft beer
This one doesn’t take you that long to learn, but it always surprises me how many bartenders don’t know how to properly pour a draft beer.
In truth, sometimes it’s not their fault. Sometimes the draft beer system is just flat out shitty and it foams and foams and slithers down the drain, wasting profits and there’s nothing you can do about it. But beyond the system issues, you should know how to allow beer to flow into a glass properly.
6. How to Change a Keg
Again, not the most difficult task to learn, but if you don’t know how to do it, it can be intimidating, like using a cappuccino machine for the first time. Which also makes foam. Not sure what that means exactly. Just thought of it…
Either way, don’t fret too much. It’s mostly just pulling, pushing and twisting a handle, so once you see how to do it one time, you’ll be good to go.
7. How to Free-Pour
Yes, we have jiggers and they are great, but every bartender should know how to free-pour liquor properly and not over-rely upon a tool to do it for you. After all, what if a jigger thief broke in during the night and stole all of the jiggers in the bar? What would you do? Or what if you got an offer to work at a better bar with amazing tips and you find out they don’t use jiggers?
The point is, you need to know the fundamentals first. For instance, it’s nice to have a calculator to tell you what 587 x 491 is, but you should also be able to pull out a pencil and paper and calculate it yourself.
And free-pouring is something you can actually practice inside your own kitchen if you’re thinking about becoming a bartender, and I show you how to do just that inside TheRealBarCourse.
8. How to Cut Fruit
You’ll hear many a-bartender whine and bitch about cutting fruit. It’s true that it’s a tedious task, usually relegated to the day bartender. But as I always told them as their bar manager, you guys cut the fruit because the night bartenders have to clean-up the hurricane that turns the bar upside-down each night, meaning all the people that come in and drunkenly destroy the place, so it’s an even trade-off.
Plus, if you run out of fruit during your shift at night, you’ll need to be able to know how to cut fruit up quickly. A bar cannot operate without lemons and limes and twists or any other citrus and garnishes that need to go into and on the drinks.
9. Good Math Skills
Don’t hyperventilate on me. You don’t need to be a calculus wizard. Yes, great bartenders do have good math skills, but with good POS systems these days, you can actually get by without great math skills. All you do is you punch in the drinks that were ordered and type in the amount you received from the guest, at which time it will tell you how much the change is.
So you can get by with a POS system that tells you the change, but the bartenders who can add up quickly in their head what the total will be, save a lot of time which adds up over the course of the night, which in turn means they are faster and can serve more drinks during the night which brings in more tips.
Therefore: Math = Money
10. How to Talk Down a Drunk
Nobody likes to be confronted by a drunk that is making everyone around them uncomfortable. If he’s not slurring and hollering his opinions for everyone to hear, he’s groping women inappropriately and then looking at you with a big innocent and confused face, like he has no idea what you’re talking about.
“What? She’s lying. I never laid a hand on her.”
Of course, this isn’t just isolated for men. Women can get out of control as well, so you need to some tactics and possibly a taser to help you here. Actually, let’s allow your security team to handle electrocuting people. Just remember to remain calm at all times no matter what. Don’t allow your emotions or ego to get all heated up just because someone called your mother a promiscuous person (see how I refrained from being offensive and using the more common phrasing “whore” here? I know, you’re welcome very much).
Instead, calmly tell them that you aren’t allowed to serve them anymore and ask if they’d like some water. When in doubt, call for security or if you have no security, call for a manager to deal with it. Put it on them. That’s what they get paid for. If they don’t like it, they should turn in their tie, grab a wine opener and become a bartender.
There you go, 10 things great bartenders know how to do. I hope you learned something. I hope you do something to take action and follow your dreams.
Thanks for being here.
Cheers, until next time.