Modern Australian

​​Bartending Basics - 6 Essential Tips For New Bartenders

Bartending is an exciting (and lucrative) job, but it can also be overwhelming. It takes a while to remember drinks, prepare them correctly, and serve them up efficiently. That being said, there are ways to speed up the learning curve. So, whether you’re serving vodka on the rocks or mixing up a Spanish gin and tonic, here are six essential tips to help you find your feet.

1. Be prepared

While tending the bar is important, it’s not the only thing bartenders do – they also have to prepare the bar before their shift begins. Even if barbacks and bar managers are around to give you a hand, it’s important to arrive early. That way, you can arrange everything to your specifications.

That means lining up all the spoons, shakers, and jiggers, stocking the fridge and making sure all the garnishes are prepared (those limes and lemons aren’t going to slice themselves). Once that’s done, you can pre-plan for any potential disasters (like the cash register going down) and then take a breather before your shift begins.

2. Learn what the bar has to offer 

For your first few shifts as a new bartender, it’s helpful to head into work a bit early. You can use that time to prepare the bar (as described above) but also to familiarize yourself with the different selections of beer, wine, and liquor.

Later in your shift, when customers ask what beers are on tap or what gins are available, you’ll be able to answer them confidently. This not only looks professional, but it will save you a lot of time (and customer frustration). 

3. Learn the basic drinks

Although there are nearly a hundred different kinds of cocktails and mixed drinks, most people tend to order a few basics. Learning the ingredients and methods for making these essential drinks will help you build up your expertise and speed.

Whether you pick it up at bartending school, at home, or on the job, it’s important to learn them fast. However, if you don’t know how to make a drink, it’s best to be honest. Either the customer will tell you, or you can look it up in a reference book or on your phone. 

4. Take group orders to improve your speed

One trick for improving your speed – an essential bartending skill – is to master the art of taking group orders. Instead of taking and making one order at a time, try to remember three or four. Oftentimes, a group of people will order the same or similar drinks, so you can grab all the ingredients, line up the glasses, and bang them out quickly. 

5. Get comfortable diffusing situations

People go to bars to drink, and sometimes they drink too much. Most intoxicated people are happy and harmless, but others can be angry and rude (or worse). Learn how to maintain a professional demeanor and cut people off if they’ve had too many drinks. Above all else, train yourself not to take anything personally. 

6. Keep an upbeat and conversational attitude

The attitude that you bring to work can get picked up by customers. If you’re in a bad mood, they can feel it, so they might be wary of asking for something or tipping you well. That’s why it’s important to keep an upbeat attitude (no matter how stressed or annoyed you may feel). Lead people into casual conversations, and make sure everyone’s having a good time.

Keep these six tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to building expertise as a bartender.

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