Facing the bustling scene of a packed bar, pouring the perfect cocktail, and offering customers a memorable experience has led many to wonder how to become a bartender.
The charm, tips, and the excitement of a busy night may be alluring, but the journey to becoming a bartender involves more than just pouring a drink. Let’s explore how to become a bartender based on our deep experience in the restaurant industry spanning more than a decade.
Step 1: Explore Bartender Education Requirements
While not always mandated, having formal education or courses related to bartending can give you a competitive edge. Here’s what you need to know:
- Bartending schools provide comprehensive training on mixing drinks and understanding the nuances of various alcohols.
- Workshops and seminars often teach niche bartending skills like flair bartending or crafting signature cocktails.
- Many bartenders start by learning on the job, gradually absorbing techniques and skills.
How long does it take to become a bartender?
The time can vary. Some might land a bartending job without formal education, while others may spend a few weeks to a few months in bartending school or on-the-job training.
Do I need experience to become a bartender?
While having experience is beneficial and preferred by many employers, many establishments are willing to train on-the-job, especially if you showcase a keen interest and aptitude.
Step 2: Start To Develop Bartender Skills (Bartender Requirements)
Before diving into the world of bartending, it’s crucial to understand the skills and responsibilities.
Bartender Skills & Requirements
- Mixology Knowledge: Understanding how different ingredients interact.
- Customer Service: Ensuring customers have a positive experience.
- Speed and Efficiency: Serving multiple customers, especially during peak hours.
- Physical Stamina: Standing for extended periods.
- Knowledge of Liquor Laws: Adhering to age restrictions and licensing regulations.
- Multitasking: Juggling multiple orders and tasks simultaneously.
- Salesmanship: Upselling premium products and specials.
- Cleanliness: Keeping the bar area tidy.
- Teamwork: Collaborating with other staff members.
- Attention to Detail: Crafting each drink to perfection.
Bartender Duties And Responsibilities
- Drink Preparation: Mixing, garnishing, and serving drinks.
- Cash Handling: Taking payments and giving appropriate change.
- Checking IDs: Ensuring patrons are of legal drinking age.
- Cleaning: Maintaining a clean bar area.
- Stocking: Keeping an inventory of bar ingredients.
- Recommendations: Suggesting drinks or upselling.
- Handling Disruptive Patrons: Dealing with unruly customers appropriately.
Step 3: Complete Relevant Bartender Training
Training forms the foundation of a successful bartending career.
Types of Training:
- Formal Bartending Schools: Comprehensive courses on drink mixing and bar management.
- On-the-Job Training: Learning directly in a live bar environment.
- Workshops: Specialized training, like flair bartending or wine appreciation.
Bartender Training Template
A structured training program ensures a consistent and comprehensive learning experience. Here’s a sample five-day training agenda for budding bartenders:
Day 1: Introduction to the Bar: Equipment, terminologies, and basic setups.
Day 2: Basic Mixology: Understanding spirits, mixers, and standard cocktails.
Day 3: Advanced Mixology: Crafting signature drinks and understanding flavor profiles.
Day 4: Customer Service & Sales: Techniques for upselling and managing customer expectations.
Day 5: Practical Training: Live bartending under supervision and feedback session.
Best Bartender Training Programs and Courses
- ABC Bartending School
- Professional Bartending School
- Flair Bartending Workshop
- Cocktail Crafting Seminar
- Online Bartender Training Course
- Free Bartender Training Online
How to Train a Bartender
From a trainer’s perspective, preparing the next generation of bartenders requires a systematic approach.
- Introduce the Bar Setup: Familiarize them with equipment and tools.
- Teach Basic Drink Recipes: Start with popular cocktails.
- Incorporate Role Play: Mock customer interactions.
- Focus on Multitasking: Handling multiple orders simultaneously.
- Stress on Cleanliness: Importance of a tidy bar area.
- Conduct a Mock Busy Hour: Simulate peak hour pressure.
- Provide Feedback Regularly: Constructive criticism is key.
Bartender Training Checklist
A training checklist ensures thorough preparation. Use this to ensure:
Drink Knowledge: The bartender must be able to prepare a variety of standard cocktails and understand the basics of mixology.
Equipment Proficiency: Familiarity with all the bar tools, including shakers, strainers, muddlers, bar spoons, and measures, is essential.
Speed and Efficiency: The ability to make drinks quickly and accurately, managing multiple drink orders simultaneously.
Customer Service: Skills in customer interaction, including friendly conversation, handling difficult patrons, and maintaining composure under pressure.
Liquor Laws Compliance: Understanding and adherence to all local and state liquor laws, including checking IDs and managing service to intoxicated individuals.
Inventory Management: Knowledge of how to stock the bar and manage inventory, including rotating stock and identifying when supplies are low.
Cleanliness and Organization: Keeping the bar area and equipment clean and organized, understanding health and safety standards.
Cash Handling and POS Systems: Competency in using point-of-sale systems, handling cash, processing credit card transactions, and balancing the cash drawer.
Step 4: Get Additional Bartender Certifications
Acquiring additional certifications, like those for responsible alcohol serving, can enhance your prospects and credibility in the industry.
Most common certifications for a bartender:
- Responsible Alcohol Service Training
- Advanced Mixology Certification
- Wine and Spirits Education Trust Certification
Does a bartender need certifications?
While not always mandatory, certain establishments or states may require bartenders to undergo specific certifications, especially those related to responsible alcohol service.
Bartender Certification Cost
Costs can vary based on the course and institution, ranging from $50 to $500 or more.
Step 5: Prepare Your Bartender Resume
Highlight your training, skills, and any experience in the industry. Don’t forget to mention any special courses or workshops you’ve attended. Tailor your resume to the specific bar or restaurant you’re applying to by emphasizing relevant skills.
Step 6: Apply For Bartender Jobs
Start by researching popular bars or establishments in your area. Network with existing bartenders or attend industry events. Popular job services include:
- Bartending is both an art and a skill; training can significantly enhance your proficiency.
- Experience is beneficial but not always mandatory.
- Certifications, while sometimes optional, can boost your employability.
- A well-crafted resume tailored to the job can make a difference.
- Networking can open doors in the bartending world.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
From a bartender, one can move up to bar manager, beverage director, or even open their own bar.
Yes, many bartenders start with on-the-job training, though formal education can be beneficial.
Seek out establishments that offer on-the-job training or consider attending a bartending school.
A bartender can aspire to become a bar owner, a beverage director at high-end establishments, or even a celebrity mixologist.
No, but they should be familiar with popular drinks and be willing to learn or adapt to customer requests.