Whether you’ve just landed your first bartending gig or you’re considering stepping behind the bar for the first time, this post will equip you with 15 helpful tips for new bartenders that will transform you into a rockstar behind the bar.
Starting as a new bartender can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’ve never worked in the hospitality industry before.
It’s much different from most other career paths and mixing drinks isn’t just about pouring liquids into a glass; it’s an art form that requires finesse, knowledge, and a dash of showmanship.
So let’s give you a headstart in your bartending career with these 15 tips that will give you a solid foundation to boss the bar.
1. Master the basics
Bartending can seem overwhelming at first, with many different bar tools, cocktail recipes, and techniques.
But focusing on mastering the basics will help build a solid foundation for your bartending career and be worth its weight in gold.
Each bar has a different style and layout, so get to grips with your bar and how it functions before learning the advanced stuff.
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Familiarize yourself with the drinks menu to help get an understanding of which drinks are most popular as well as the ingredients used in each.
Some bars have extensive menus while some are more basic, so take your time and absorb as much as you can.
Learning the menu will help you make custom recommendations to patrons and help you provide better customer service as a whole.
3. Be patient with yourself
There’s a lot to learn in bartending, especially in the beginning, so be patient with yourself. It’s going to take you a couple of months to really get the hang of everything so take your time and enjoy the process.
Mistakes happen from time to time and it’s completely normal and expected for you to mess up a couple of drinks here and there.
That’s what training is all about. But over time you’ll notice your progression and begin to improve.
4. Stay organized
Keep the bar clean and organized to help avoid confusion during busy shifts. When the bar gets crazy, you want to know exactly where everything is so you can be as efficient as possible.
Arrange your bottles, tools, and ingredients in a logical manner to keep the service as smooth as possible.
This may look like having your jigger and cocktail shakers front and center on the bar for easy access and your bar blade in your back pocket or close by.
5. Practice efficiency
Efficiency is everything in bartending as there’s no time to waste when the shift gets busy.
Find ways to work as efficiently as possible by preparing garnishes in advance and having your ice buckets full and ready to go.
Optimize your movements behind the bar and learn the fastest routes to access any tools you may need to serve guests.
6. Learn the multitask
Learning to multitask will be essential for success in your bartender career. Practice taking orders, making drinks, and speaking with customers all at once and you’ll soon be a proficient multitasker.
This will help with the above point of remaining efficient when the bar gets busy and you’ll be able to handle the busy weekend shifts with ease.
7. Keep your cool
Stay calm, cool, and collected while behind the bar.
Bartenders deal with drunk customers on a regular basis which will really test your patience, so practice staying level-headed at all times.
You’ll also be working under a lot of pressure at times, so practicing keeping your cool will help you provide excellent customer service and handle difficult situations professionally.
8. Be attentive
Paying close attention to your customer’s needs and preferences is a great way to set yourself apart from other bartenders and rise to the top.
Anticipate your customer’s needs before they even ask and offer a personalized service by recommending drinks or memorizing customers’ orders.
This makes them feel special and will help you build connections with your regulars.
9. Be resilient
Bartending can be a physically and mentally demanding job that is not for the faint-hearted.
Developing resilience will help you handle long hours, late nights, and difficult situations.
A great tip for this is to practice self-care by establishing a gym routine for your body and a meditation routine for your mind.
These have helped me enormously throughout my career and have helped me deal with the most difficult of situations calmly and professionally.
10. Clean as you go
As the shift progresses, it’s a good idea to clean as you go so that can stay organized and don’t have to do all of the cleaning at the end of the shift.
Nobody likes the long clean down when it’s time to go home, so cleaning as you go will help you cut down on that time and maintain a hygienic workspace.
11. Practice conversation with customers
Communication is KEY in bartending and will not only help you earn more in tips but will also help take your career to new heights.
Practicing communication with customers will help build rapport and establish a loyal customer base that comes back time and time again to speak with you, their favorite bartender.
Tip – Be friendly and become an excellent listener.
12. Stay up to date with bartending trends
The bartending world is constantly evolving and there are new cocktail recipes, ingredients, and trends popping up all of the time.
Keeping up to date with what’s going on in the industry will help you stay on top of your game.
Attend industry events, follow influential bartenders, and keep up to date by using social media and following bartending Facebook pages and blogs (like this one!)
13. Wear the right clothing
Dressing appropriately for the type of bar you work in is very important. You should look smart and professional while also being comfortable in the clothes you wear.
This includes wearing the correct footwear as you’ll be on your feet for most of the shift and adhering to the bar’s dress code policy.
14. Learn bar tools
Familiarize yourself with all bar tools so that you’re confident when the time comes to use them.
This includes all of the below;
15. Ask for feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask for honest and constructive feedback from your colleagues and manager.
This will help you identify areas that you may want to improve on and can help you become a better bartender overall.
Embrace feedback and don’t be disheartened by it. Asking for feedback shows your manager that you’re keen and willing to learn and improve.
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