(Section 6 of the Bartending Course)
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Memorize the Big 60 Cocktail Recipes
You must know hundreds of drink recipes in order to get your first bartending job. Really? This is one of the myths that I hear all the time out there in the “Bartending World.” This is a huge lie. A fabrication invented by working bartenders, Bartender Schools, and others, trying to elevate themselves to the highest levels of” bartending expertise.” Don’t fall for it.
In Section 6, Cocktail Recipes, I’ll give you a list of about 60 Cocktail Drinks and 20 shooters. Don’t panic! They’re actually very easy to learn, and I have a lot of great tips and techniques that will help you master them all.
Knowing drink recipes is 10% of the job – if that. Sure, if your intent is to work in a Craft Bar, or a bar whose owner wants to carry every liquor under the sun – you need to know a lot more. But, you have no experience and may wish to forego applying at these places when you’re first starting off. However, for the 90 – 95% of us regular bartenders out there – that’s overkill.
But first, let’s look at why this section is important – and what an interviewer is probably going to ask you. I go into much greater detail in later sections of the course on Job Preparation and the Interview Process, so I’ll discuss here what to do if and when the interview shifts to drink recipes.
When you sit down for the interview, I want you to remember one thing: The interviewer knows that you have no experience. He has your cover letter/resume/application right there in front of him. He sees that you have no experience as a bartender. Believe it or not, when it comes to drink recipes, that works to your advantage during the interview process. Let me explain….
You have never bartended before. You’re not expected to know 100’s of drinks! If someone like me (with a ton of experience, and a resume that details that experience), sat down to be interviewed, and I didn’t know how to make a Long Island Iced Tea – I’m in trouble. Immediately, the interviewer is going to think I’m conning him. Or lying to him. Or falsifying my resume. Ouch – none of that is good.
You don’t have to worry about that, so don’t stress about learning 100’s of recipes! The interviewer has some pretty low expectations as far as your drink recipe knowledge goes. Concentrate on the very basics – which I lay out in detail in the next chapter of the Cocktail Recipe Section.
Allow me to go into a bit more detail on why is this ‘no bartending experience’ and ‘you don’t have to know 100’s of drink recipes’ thing is so important.
Firstly, the interviewer doesn’t expect you to know any of the ‘House Specialties’ that the bar pushes. That’s good. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if you DID know those recipes, but it’s not essential. I give you some good tips on this tip/technique in a later section.
Secondly, he knows that you certainly haven’t been around long enough to know what the popular drinks are in that area. You may have done a little homework (again, I’ll cover that later in the course), but there isn’t a bar manager out there that’s going to ask you how to make some obscure drink. A good bar manager, that is. If he does, he’s probably just messing with you to break the ice. He may even be making stuff up.
As a bar manager, I always asked for the recipe to something fairly common. Maybe a Cosmo or a Long Island. Popular, middle off the road stuff, and it shows that you definitely know the basic drinks.
Thirdly, he’s very well aware that if he hires you, he’s going to (hopefully), give you a list of drink recipes. (Along with a price list, a list of liquors that bar uses, and their house specialty recipes.) He’ll ask you to memorize them before your first shift. Do the best you can. He also knows that your trainer will fill you on precisely what the house policy is regarding the amount you should pour, pricing, etc.
Finally, being that you’re inexperienced, he’s not going to waste his time quizzing you about cocktail recipes. Again, that works to your advantage, as you can move on with more important things – techniques that I’m going to teach you in later chapters that will actually get you the job.
And, above all else, remember that you have no experience – yet you’re sitting there being interviewed anyway. Why is that? Because they need a bartender! And, they probably need one quickly.
Cocktail Recipe Chapters
Introduction to Cocktail Recipes
How Customers (and servers) Call their Drinks
The “Top 60” Cocktail Recipes
The “Top 20” Shooter Recipes
Memorizing Cocktail Recipes
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