Bartending Is Not As Easy As You Think

March 9th, 2009

If you’ve never tried it, Bartending might seem a great way to make a living: all you have to do is hang out in a fun place with cool music, flirt and chat with people as you pour drinks. But the bartender’s life is a lot harder than that. In fact, the job can be quite demanding.

If you have never had a Bartender Jobs before and want to give it a shot you might want to consider working at a smaller watering hole, or a place that is not very busy, so you can hone your skills and learn how to make multiple drinks quickly. If you like it you’ll want to graduate to a busy bar, where there’s more potential for bigger tips.

As a bartender, you will be earning a very low wage, so your primary income will come from tips your customers pay. A skilled bartender knows how to maximize tips by “working” the customers while doing the job quickly. He or she has a keen sense of what individual customers want: who requires a little extra pampering, and who wants to get their drink order quickly and be done with it. Of course, a bartender will be expected to be a little flirtatious with customers, it’s important not to over-do it or come across as phony.

Bartending can be hazardous to your health! First of all, the work-all-night sleep-all-day schedule doesn’t work for everyone. The pace can be unrelenting, and you are often coping with drunk and unruly customers. Bartending is not an office job. You’re be on your feet all night, and if it’s a busy one you won’t get a break until after last call. When customers are waiting, you won’t have the chance to go for a half-hour dinner break! Many people find the stress of the job is just not worth the tip money, while others have the personality to thrive in the bar world. Consider whether you are temperamentally suited for this type of work before you decide to take training courses or seek a job in a bar.

And don’t forget—a bar’s money is mostly made on the weekend. If going out with your friends on a Saturday night is important to you, bartending might not be suited to you. Many people in the bar industry are frustrated at losing touch with all their friends with “normal” jobs, not to mention working all night and missing a lot of daylight hours sleeping.

Bartending requires you to have strong memory skills: you will be expected to remember several drink orders at once. A manager might test prospective hires by having them make about five drinks in rapid succession—gin and tonic, Jack and Coke, vodka soda, rye and ginger, vodka tonic, for example. If they can’t remember the quickly-recited drinks correctly, they probably won’t get the job.

Bartending truly requires the ability to multi-task. Not only must you remember the customers’ drink orders, you must keep track of whether your bar is properly stocked, clean, and so on. Crucial sales can be lost if you run out of, say soda water or cranberry juice 15 minutes before last call and have to get more from storage.

A bartender must have well-developed social skills, and be prepared to deal with a variety of people, not all of whom may be to your liking. A good bartender knows how to find just the right balance between being friendly and professional. You need to know when to interact socially with your customers, and to make them feel special and valued without slowing your pace. Remember, every minute you spend talking to a customer in a busy bar is a minute less you’re spending getting the next person’s order. Not only will that irritate the other customers who are waiting, it will potentially reduce the total number of drinks you make thus lowering your night’s tips.

One final important thing to remember, is that you have important professional and even legal obligations when you serve alcohol. You will expected to take a course to get some form of certification. So being a bartender is definitely more than glorified playtime. But if you have the right skills, personality, and a thick skin, you might just fit the bill!

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