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Learn To Bartend Like a Pro: 5 Quick Tips

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Rudy Dunbar | September 25, 2018

Starting a job at a bar can seem daunting at first, especially for new bartenders getting their first experience under their belt. The fast paced environment, constant movement, loud music, and long line of customers can be extremely overwhelming. Not to mention the exhaustive list of drinks that must be memorized. 

As with many things, practice makes perfect. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll be on your way to becoming a great bartender, earning more tips in the process. 

To help you started, we’ve taken time to study some of the world’s best bartenders, and uncover their secrets to success. With that said, here are five quick tips that can help you learn to bartend like a pro, and get you on your way to becoming one of the best bartenders in your area. 

Keep Yourself Busy

Whether you have just finished serving a customer or are simply waiting for the next order, it is never a good idea to stand around doing nothing. There’s nothing more annoying for people trying to get their bartender’s attention than seeing them checking their phone or talking with friends. 

Clean the bar, polish glassware, shine the silverware or simply arrange condiments on the counter-top in a neat fashion if there is no one at the bar. Keeping your hands busy at all times will give you a more professional and hardworking look.

Even there are people at the bar, make an effort to multitask. If you’re finishing up one order, try getting another order called out. Staying busy behind the bar will keep you in the mindset that it’s time to work, and will get you in a good rhythm for the rest of your shift. 

Be Well Versed in Recipes

As a bartender, it’s important know your recipes. When a customer comes up to you and orders a French Martini, you should know how to prepare it and how to do so in style. If you give a blank expression in return, it can raise a lot of eyebrows regarding your professionalism.

It can be embarrassing for the you, the bartender, and the customer when you must look up a recipe on your phone or ask a coworker how to make a certain drink.  The more recipes you have in your arsenal, the better. 

Not sure which recipes you might need? A simple search for recipes every bartender must know might save you from a lot of humiliation. Even Forbes has a recipe suggesting the best martini out there.

Practice Your Moves to

As you learn to bartend and start getting comfortable using the different tools at your disposal, you may want to take your game to the next level by adding some style to your repertoire. 

Nothing says professional better than preparing a drink while performing fancy moves. If you’re really feeling confident, try spinning your shakers, throwing your bottle openers up in the air while preparing drinks. 

This can really set you apart from other bartenders, and please the onlooking crowd in the process. When you’re able to create a fun experience for customers, it’ll result in more business for the bar and help you earn more tips as a bartender. 

Not at that level yet? Try practicing at home. Buy cheap bottles and equipment and practice when you have time. Some simple tricks can really take your skillset as a bartender to the next level. Here’s a good place to get started.

Keep Your Workstation Tidy

As you reach peak hours, the number of customers and orders begin to grow, increasing the pressure on you, the bartender to perform. Growing pressure usually results in a growing temptation to cut corners. You might be tempted to sacrifice presentation, style, or cleanliness to keep up with the increasing customer demand.  

Resist this temptation and try to stay focused on providing quality service. Simple acts like wiping the bar after preparing a batch of drinks or while listening to customer’s orders go a long way, and avoids a mess building up over time. 

A clean bar means a clear mind in the world of bartending. When things are too messy, it’s easy to get distracted and mess up an order. Keeping such distractions out of the way will help you stay on track throughout your shift. 

Know How Much and How to Pour

Knowing how and how much alcohol to pour is a trait that both, employers and customers love. 

For employers, they want to make sure that you’re not pouring too much into the glass and wasting the bottle. For customers, they want to make sure that you’re not pouring too little and ripping them off. So as you learn to bartend, it’s important to find that balance in the middle. 

While jiggers will help you measure out shots for cocktails and beer glasses are premeasured to the correct size, it’s important to leave a little room at the top of each drink to avoid spillage. 

There’s no point in spending time on a drink only for it to spill as soon as you pass it to the customer. If this happens, the customer will likely be annoyed and remember the incident next time they want to buy a drink. 

The proper way to pour a drink is usually to pour using the reverse grip. This grip not only gives the bartender more control over the pour, but also but is also faster and more impressive. 

Engage with Your Customers 

it is normal to find yourself busy trying to serve customers on each end of the bar, however, make sure you give each and every customer the attention that he or she deserves. If there has been a customer waiting for a while, make sure to acknowledge them and assure them you’ll be there to help momentarily. 

Sometimes, you’ll come across chatty customers. These customers don’t realize they are holding you back from your duty and keep conversing. You should know how to handle these costumers with tact. The easiest way to do this is to make your replies short, and make them aware through your actions that you’re busy. 

Don’t be too curt though; remember that even short answers can be placated if followed by a smile. Another way to handle this is to engage the customers with each other so that they have someone to talk to. A person wanting to talk about baseball with you would just as easily settle for another who is willing to do the same.

Remember to return to these customers from time to time to not make them feel neglected.

Keep these tips in mind and you will learn to bartend quickly and easily. It may seem daunting at first but once you get in its groove, it becomes a lot easier! Good luck!