Just a short lesson here – and a reminder of some of the things that we have discussed in previous lessons. Especially Lesson 2 about the mind-boggling questions customers will ask you – and what your responses should be.
There is no video here – just give this a quick read. There is no particular order here – just a lot of experience and lessons learned the hard way.
You’re not Tom Cruise in “Cocktail.” If you work in a flair bar – fine. Otherwise, no one wants to see this.
Starting Things on Fire
Nope. None of that. Save it for that contest you’ve been wanting to enter. And by the way – don’t let your customers do this either!
Failing to Use the Ice Scoop
Another no-brainer. If you get caught doing this while the health inspector is there – not good. And let’s not forget about breaking a glass in the ice during the rush. You’ll learn after doing this just one time!
“Packing” the Ice
Never use your hands to “pack” the ice. Or any tool, for that matter. Just fill the glass with ice and let it settle naturally.
Shortchanging the Ice
“Give me a Jim Beam on the rocks!” Please, fill the rocks glass with ice. It doesn’t matter if the liquor doesn’t cover all the ice. If customers want no ice – they’ll tell you.
The bar should have appropriate glassware. Of course you don’t fill the glass to the top with liquor – always use the correct pour.
Eye Contact – Always, Always, Always!
Acknowledge your bar customers – no matter how busy you are.
Shaking vs. Stirring
Shake most all drinks with a citrus base. Never shake Manhattans or Old Fashioned’s. Ask the customer if they would like their martini’s stirred or shaken.
A “shaken” drink will add around 50% more “ice meltage” to the drink. That’s great for some martini’s – but you must be careful here. This will depend on what the house pours – and what kind of glassware they use.
Don’t Use a Straw to Sample a Drink
It accomplishes nothing. It’s unsanitary. It’s unprofessional. To all you experienced bartenders that insist you can tell the strength of a drink (or what, exactly is in the drink), quit calling yourself an experienced bartender!
Don’t Use Foul Language
Again, this goes without saying. Leave the trash talk at home – your customers notice. Remember that you have no idea (most of the time), who is sitting at your bar.
Don’t Take Your Job Too Seriously!
Relax! This isn’t rocket science. Yes, we bartenders are professionals – but it’s not like humanity depends upon us. Follow the house rules, be yourself, and have a good time – that’s what it’s all about.
Don’t Complain About Tips
Never. Never. Never. Not to management, fellow employees – and certainly not your customers. Count your tips at the end of your shift and just end it. If you’re not making great tips, you now have experience – go out and get a better bartending job at a busy place!
If you’re not getting tipped well – or at least not at the level of your fellow employees – look inward. Ask for help. Is it an efficiency problem? Lack of experience? Bad attitude?
Don’t Complain About Management
Complaints about management always seem to have a way of getting back to them. Use your common sense here! And, my goodness, don’t put anything negative about your job on social media!
Don’t Complain About Fellow Employees
See a pattern here? PROVIDE SOLUTIONS!
Use the Correct Glass!
A massive rookie mistake. You will be introduced to all glassware on your very first shift. Pay attention! There’s nothing worse than receiving your single-malt on the rocks in a highball or Collins glass. Or a martini in a margarita glass. Ugh.
Side Note: I have been in situations where it’s so busy that running out of glassware was a common occurrence. Usually because I didn’t have time to wash glasses – or the Bar Manager wasn’t ordering enough. The solution? I have had the Bar Manger (and sometimes the Bar Owner) jump back there and start washing glasses. I have also started using whatever glass was available. I would let the customer know and make some sort of joke, of course, and 100% of the time they would just laugh and go with the flow.
Everyone who enters your bar is important. Very important. You work for them, so treat them like kings. Eye contact, politeness, and displaying a genuine interest in their needs and well-being will be well rewarded.
Do the same with your fellow employees and management and you’re golden.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
The very best bartenders are always under control. Nothing phases them. I went over the “7 Skills and Qualities Bar Managers are Looking For” in the very first Introductory Section, Lesson 7. It’s all about demeanor here folks!
Don’t Play Favorites
Yes, I know that you’re going to have regulars. That’s great – but don’t make other customers wait while you finish that deep conversation. Good bartenders can do both at the same time.
And let us not forget that you’re working with your fellow employees. This is one of the areas where I see bartenders get into trouble all the time. Wait on the food/cocktail staff in the order they present their drink requests. No exceptions! A polite smile goes a long with employees – not just your customers.
Don’t Serve Minors
Arguably the most important “don’t” on the books. Enough said.
Don’t Ever Use Drugs at Work!
Another no-brainer. Don’t use drugs before or during your shift. Don’t allow illegal drugs to be used or sold in your bar. No exceptions – inform management of any problems.
Listen, I have said it before – and I’ll say it again. I’m not the drug and alcohol police. What you do on your own time is your business. However, customers, fellow employees, and management will eventually become aware of drug use. Caution!
Don’t Drink if Illegal or Unauthorized
We have discussed this over and over in previous sections. Know the laws, and for gosh sakes – follow house policy!
Don’t Think You’re the “Bomb”
Really? You’re just a bartender. Yes, I know that I say over and over that you want to be a professional bartender back there – but you’re not a star. You’re simply hanging out with people – and making some great drinks while you’re at it.
The goal here is to “blend in.” Not “stand out.”
Some bartenders will disagree – and they will argue this point all day long. Yes, if you’re working in a “flair” bar or maybe some sort of weird off-the-wall type place that measures every single ingredient – you might be a star. Not for the rest of us 95 percenter’s out there!
Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands
I should put this at the end of every lesson in this course. Really. Customers notice! Especially after handling money. And, if the health inspector is in the vicinity – make it a point to wash your hands regularly.
Yes, I know. It’s impractical most of the time. Do your best, my friends!