Get a Bartending Job
Bartending jobs require skill, personality, and the endurance to keep working til the lights go out - not always an easy task. Bartending jobs are highly coveted, so before you apply, make sure you've mastered the basic skills and memorized the popular drinks. Read on to learn how to land a fun job as a bartender.
Hone Your Skills
- Learn how to make drinks. In order to make drinks that look and taste like they were made by a professional, you'll need to learn basic bartending skills beyond just pouring and mixing. Check out online tutorials with information on the following techniques, then practice them until you have them memorized. Here are some basics you should know before you start looking for a bartending job:
- Shaking. This involves using a cocktail shaker to mix and chill drinks.
- Straining. Cocktail shakers have built-in strainers, which you use to strain the ice from the liquid.
- Stirring. There's a proper way to do this to ensure the drink doesn't get watered down.
- Muddling. This involves using a muddler to press the flavor from fresh ingredients.
- Blending. You'll need a blender to make drinks like blended margaritas.
- Memorize the classics. Start building your knowledge of different types of alcohol and learning how to make the most popular drinks. To a certain extent, the type of drinks you'll need to know how to make depends on the bar where you work; a high-end urban bar might focus on specialty martinis, while a college bar might serve a lot of Irish car bombs. Still, no matter where you work, you'll need the most popular standards in your repertoire. Learn how to make the following:
- Basic mixed drinks like a whiskey soda, a greyhound, orange juice and vodka, Jack and coke, gin and tonic, and so on.
- Other highballs like a bloody Mary, dark and stormy, fuzzy navel, melon ball, and Alabama slammer.
- Lowballs such as a White Russian, a godfather, and a peppermint patty.
- Martinis, Manhattans, and Rob Roys.
- Tropical drinks like Make the World's Best Pina Colada, daiquiris, margaritas and hurricanes.
- Shots like a lemon drop, slippery nipple, Jäger bomb or an orgasm.
- Other cocktails like a mimosa, a Make a Mint Julep, a mojito, or an Irish coffee.
- Observe bartenders in action. There are little tricks to pouring a good beer, mixing drinks, and saving time behind the bar. Watch how your mixer handles drink orders. Most of it is not rocket science; the most commonly ordered drinks are liquor plus a mixer. Buy drink manuals to learn about the more complex drinks and practice at home.
- Consider whether you want to go to bartending school. They'll teach you the basics and you'll have an opportunity to practice making drinks. Make sure the school you choose has a real working bar and all real bartending equipment. Bartending is a manual skill that requires speed and dexterity. There is no substitute for hands on training.
Go Job Searching
- Apply for jobs you find online. A lot of bartending jobs are advertised on online classifieds websites. Do a job search and keep a list of the jobs that sound appealing to you. Some may ask you to submit a resume online, while others will ask you to come in for an in-person interview.
- If you're worried you don't have enough experience, that shouldn't necessary deter you from applying. If you've practiced bartending skills and memorized the drinks, you may get hired anyway.
- Make sure your resume is up to date, well-written, and proofread. Highlight any customer service experience you have, not just bartending experience. Any type of restaurant work is also a plus.
- Some establishments prefer to hire bartenders with no experience because they won't have any bad habits to break. Experienced or not, the cover letter and resume need to be exciting and pop with personality. A great personality and attitude will elevate you above the competition every time.
- Go to bars and talk to the managers. If you have a favorite watering hole, find out who the owner is and start talking him/her up. Befriend the bartenders, barbacks, and cocktail waitresses, and let them know you're looking for a bartending job. Tip well, go often, and generally be a happy, useful presence at the bar. The manager will be happy to hire you when a position opens up.
- Look for charity guest bartending gigs. Many big cities are now offering this option. You pick a charity, promote the event, and bring your friends in. In exchange, you and a couple friends get trained for the evening and get to mix drinks all night. It's a great way to get some experience and make contacts. If you impress the bar owner, it could lead to a job.
Land the Job
- Prepare for your interview properly. Many bartending job applicants go into their job interviews unprepared. If you look at bartending as a quick fix or so easy to do that you don't need to prepare, you will not get the job. Just like you would for any job, show up to the interview with a positive, friendly attitude and respect for the position.
- Dress the part. Your appearance will be a factor when it's time to interview for a job. If you want a gig at a fancy restaurant, dress professionally. If you want a job at a hip club, dress edgy. If a dive bar gig is fine by you, dress tough. Most bars are going for a certain look or image, whether they tell you that or not.
- Be ready to show your skills. Don't show up without knowing how to make a martini.
- Be personable. If you have a fun, charismatic personality, your lack of experience won't matter nearly as much. Tell some funny anecdotes and crack a lot of jokes. Make it clear that you love talking to people, telling stories, and lending an ear.
- Act responsible. A bartender's job is fun, but there's also a lot of responsibility involved. You have to open and close the bar, handle cash and credit cards, make sure you don't serve minors, and stop serving people who've had enough to drink. Show that you're mature and capable of handling the types of situations that are bound to arise late at night when the alcohol is flowing.
- Catering companies are a good place to start. They are easier jobs to get, if you can be of service a little bit, and you will learn a lot by doing basic drinks and pouring wine and beer.
- If you plan on going to a bartending school check their Better Business Bureau profile, and if they are licensed by the state department of education. Check how long they have been in business. Beware of any school or service that guarantee you a job or job placement. In most states, it's illegal. All a school can do is offer job placement assistance.
- Although some disagree, being a barback isn't a bad place to start. You learn from the bartenders you are working for and work your way up. A good bartender will tip you for your hard work and they might even teach you a thing or two.
- Often bar managers prefer people without previous experience as they don't have to be untrained of previously learned skills. This is especially true of small family run or local pubs and hotels which may have their own unique ways of operating. So never hold back from applying for a bar job because you don't think you have enough experience. We all have to start somewhere.
- Remember that the bar is a stage. You aren't just there to serve drinks but to entertain and perform. Remember the regulars names and usual drinks. Make an effort to connect with everyone. You don't have to tell jokes but be genuine, be yourself and enjoy the company of others. A smile, a nod or just the ability to laugh at your own mistakes can bring down the barriers and make the job fun,pleasant and rewarding.
- Where alcohol is involved, people can forget themselves and (with the exceptions of threatening, abusive or violent behavior). Be prepared to see, hear and learn things that discretion requires you keep to yourself. Do not be a gossip and be quick to forgive and forget.
- Always be honest about your skills and experience. You do yourself or your employer no favors if you don't have the skills you say you have. And be willing to ask if there is anything that is not clear or you don't understand. It shows intelligence, maturity and willingness to learn. Better to ask a stupid question and risk looking a fool than not asking and confirming you are one.
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