Learn to Be a Bartender on Your Own

bartenderLast summer, I walked from my corporate job because it was soul-sucking and just “not me.”

I decided that I would need to completely redirect my career path toward something that I actually cared about. I despised the idea of simply working for a paycheck each week, without really planting seeds to be successful in the future.

While in between jobs, I chose to learn how to bar tend as a means to some part time pin money.  Many people will tell you to take a course, or obtain a certificate that can cost around $300-$400.

Forget that.

Using some of the booze that I had sitting around my house, I hopped on YouTube and began searching for instructional videos on how to make popular drinks.  As you might imagine, there are plenty and many of them are straight to the point.  Some mandatory drinks include:

  1. Classic Martini (this means gin, however vodka is easily substituted)
  2. Manhattan
  3. Margarita
  4. Long Island Iced Tea
  5. Bay Breeze or Sea Breeze
  6. Bloody Mary
  7. White Russian

You get the point.  Make a drink or two for yourself, and work on it until you have the ingredients memorized and can quickly mix it with confidence.  Invite a few friends over and offer them some drinks – friends normally won’t mind the taste unless the drink has been mixed poorly.

Most bar managers won’t offer you a job unless you have had experience, but you will learn to “fake it ’till you make it.”  If you know someone in the business, ask if you can work for a few hours during slower nights for no pay, in exchange for some behind-the-bar-know-how.

Once you have landed a gig, there are a few behaviors to put in practice.  Rule number one is that there is almost always something to do.  Clean glasses. Prepare garnishes.  Stock beer.  Other bartenders will thank you for this.

Practice your confidence with the customers.  Engage in friendly conversation.  Look them in the eyes.  Tell a joke or two if you know one.

If you don’t know how to make a drink or shot they request, that’s OK.  With a smile, ask them if they know the ingredients, or do the same with another bartender.  The point is to not become fazed by a lack of knowledge.  It’s time to learn, after all!

Tending bar can be fun, but it can also be frustrating.  It’s a great chance to spend time interacting with people, and to hone your communication skills and test your patience.

Have fun, and always have a joke ready.

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