Excel as a Bartender

The drinks business is bound to and built around the bartenders. Indeed, most of the top players in the industry started their career behind a bar.  They occupy that all-important final frontier between the drinks and the customers, hence their role is hugely important to the industry as a whole. With experience and insight from working directly with the consumers, understanding the job of a bartender is key to understanding the many levels of the industry. So, what is a bartender’s role exactly and what can they do to excel?


To make drinks The job of a bartender first and foremost is to make delicious drinks. Know your cocktails inside out and back to front, pull the perfect pint every time and know your sauvignon blancs from your cabernet sauvignons. When it comes down to it, drinks are made with recipes and routines that can be learnt, practiced and perfected so add as many as you can to your arsenal.


To inspire your customers. Bars are the places where drink trends start, they are the beating heart of the drinks industry.  The best are places that inspire a love for the craftsmanship behind each bottle, and the creativity and passion behind each drink, they are places that are innovative and exciting. So keep your finger on the pulse of the industry and allow yourself to be inspired and energised. After all, one cannot truly excel behind a bar without passion for the job and the drinks; if you are excited about what you are serving, that feeling will inevitably impact your customers.


LONDON - JANUARY 26, 2013: liquor bottles at the mask bar inside Strand Palace Hotel in London, UK on January 26, 2013.


To know the bar. You should know everything that’s behind the bar, on the taps, in the fridges, in the storerooms, everything. Taking time to learn the flavour profiles, histories and background of each bottle is not only a fun way to pass time on a sleepy Monday shift but it also gives you confidence.

You act as the go between for those thirsty customers and the liquids that will quench their cravings, so you should be well versed on what you have and how they taste.


To create a good atmosphere. Unlike most jobs, the bartender’s place of work is right in the heart of most people’s place of play, and the responsibility to keep the environment light and fun falls upon the shoulders of the staff. To get this right, the devil’s in the detail. You’ve got to take notice of who is in the bar and what kind of experience they are looking for, then adjust accordingly. You should know when to pump the music up and turn the lights down low. Work with the energy of the crowd and encourage the good vibes at every opportunity.


To have the gift of the gab. The bar is a stage so it doesn’t hurt to learn some lines, or have a few bits under your belt. Having a little to and fro with the customers will help you build a rapport and eventually a solid group of regulars. Just be careful not to reuse old material on the same crowd.


To know when to chime in and when to pipe down. Equally important to knowing what to say is knowing when, or when not to say it. Even if your new line is a work of perfectly crafted comedic genius, it won’t work on every crowd and especially not if you interrupt a conversation to crow-bar it in.


Barman pouring wine from shaker and serving it


Get creative. Coming up with your own drinks is one of the absolute best ways to get ahead of the game and be recognised as a real mover and shaker of the bar scene. Tinkering around with your ingredients, discovering flavour combinations, playing with recipes new and old and really letting those creative juices flow is a lot of fun and absolutely crucial to garnering a reputation. Indeed, it was the starting place of all the pioneers and legends we know today – Harry Craddock, Jerry Thomas, Bill Boothby, the list goes on! Of course you can test-run your inventions on customers and friends, but one of the most rewarding routes is via competitions.

Big brands regularly hold events that see bartenders the world over challenged to create new drinks based around certain products. Taking part in these glitzy affairs is a wonderful way to get your face known around influential circles and do a bit of schmoozing. And if you win? You have the chance to have your recipe published, served in bars around the world, and more often than not you’ll be sent off to teach the international community exactly how to make your winning drink. All in all, it’s a fun and exciting way to showcase your creativity and passion with potential for some life-changing experiences that can propel you into the bartending A-list.



Courtesy of Imbibe

This article was written by Stephanie Goward who is a young whisky and wine enthusiast who originally hails from Scotland and is currently pursuing a career in the spirits industry. She spends her days experimenting with flavour combinations and spreading the word of the water of life to non-believers.

 Her  profile can be found here LinkedIn profile

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