Bartending is a profession that requires a range of skills– It’s not just creating delicious drinks, but you also have to provide excellent customer service and perform various behind-the-bar tasks.
If you’re interested in becoming a bartender, there are a few key things you should know; so come with us as we discuss what bartenders do, how to become a bartender, the importance of mixology, and the various tools of the trade.
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What Bartenders Do

Bartenders are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including taking orders, then mixing and serving the drinks they make, and keeping track inventory so they don’t run out of ingredients or glassware. But perhaps the most important aspect of bartending is customer service: A good bartender must be friendly, engaging, and attentive to customers’ needs.
Bartenders must also create a welcoming environment. A clean and organized bar, music that’s right for the atmosphere, and a comfortable & relaxed ambiance (or a fun, busy, but still welcoming one) all help create a place where guests want to be and make them want to return.
cocktail mixing glass

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How To Become A Bartender

Becoming a bartender typically requires a combination of education and experience. Many bartenders start out as servers or barbacks, learning the basics of the industry before moving up to bartending. Others attend bartending school to gain formal training of the craft.
If you’re interested in becoming a bartender, there are a few things you can do to get started. First, gain experience working in a restaurant or bar in a different capacity. This will give you the opportunity to learn the basics of the industry and gain valuable experience– plus, there may be room for upward mobility where you already work.
Also develop your customer service skills. As we mentioned earlier, customer service is a crucial aspect of bartending. Being friendly, engaging, and attentive to customers’ needs will help keep them coming back– and will help you make better tips. It’s a win-win.
Another important skill? Multitasking. As a bartender, you need to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, such as mixing drinks while taking orders. Time yourself while mixing drinks at home and simultaneously trying to do something else, like cooking or talking on the phone. The bar is a busy place where you’ll be distracted but still have to keep those drink orders straight!
Bartender pouring a drink into a coupe glass

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The Importance Of Mixology

Mixology is the art of creating cocktails– from knowing which ingredients to use, how to mix them, and how to present the drink in an attractive way. A good bartender must have a solid understanding of mixology to create delicious and visually stunning drinks.
It’s also the ability to get creative with flavor profiles and techniques, so it’s important to keep up with trends and push your own boundaries.
There are several ways to learn mixology, including attending a bartending school or taking mixology classes online. Online mixology courses are becoming increasingly popular because they are convenient, affordable, and provide students with access to a wealth of knowledge and resources at their own pace.
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Online Mixology Courses

Online mixology courses are an excellent way to learn about the art of creating cocktails. They offer students the convenience of learning from home and on their own schedule. Many online mixology courses provide video tutorials, written guides, and quizzes to help students master the basics of mixology.
Here at A Bar Above, we have an array of awesome courses you can take, from our Bar Basics course for those just getting started to our full Mixology Certification course. The cool thing about these is that you can even access them on your phone, so you can literally work on your career anywhere you have internet access.
Another advantage of taking an online mixology course is that you have access to a wide range of resources, including recipes, bartending tips, and information about the different types of alcohol. These resources help you develop a solid understanding of mixology as you become a better bartender.
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Essential Mixology Bar Tools

There are many tools that bartenders need but the two most important are shakers and strainers.

Cocktail Shakers

Cocktail shakers are used to mix drinks by shaking– This technique is for cocktails that have ingredients with varying density, such as alcohol, lime juice, muddled berries, or egg whites. There are two main types of cocktail shakers: the Boston shaker and the cobbler shaker.
A line of Boston cocktail shakers

Boston Shakers, Copyright A Bar Above


The Boston shaker is a two-piece shaker that consists of two metal shaker tins, one smaller and one larger. The smaller tin is filled with ice and ingredients, and then the larger metal shaker tin is placed over the top to form a seal. The two pieces are then shaken vigorously to mix the ingredients.
The cobbler shaker is a three-piece shaker that consists of a metal shaker tin, a built-in strainer, and a cap. The ingredients are added to the metal shaker tin, and then the strainer and cap are attached. The three pieces are then shaken together to mix the ingredients.
Various stainless steel tools strainers with cocktail

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Cocktail Strainers

The other important tool for bartenders is the cocktail strainer, which are used to remove any solid particles, such as ice or fruit pulp, from a mixed drink before it is served. There are three main types of cocktail strainers: the Hawthorne strainer, the julep strainer, and the fine mesh strainer.
Stainless steel Hawthorne strainer with holiday cocktail

Hawthorne Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


The Hawthorne strainer is the most commonly used type of strainer in bars and consists of a flat metal disc with a coiled spring around the edge. The disc is placed over the mouth of the shaker tin, and the spring fits snugly inside the rim, allowing the liquid to pass through the strainer while holding back any solid particles.
Julep strainer with stirred cocktail

Julep Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


The julep strainer is a smaller strainer that is used to strain spirit-forward drinks mixed in a mixing glass– These drinks have few ingredients of similar density (typically all alcohol, such as the Martini) and are stirred rather than shaken. The julep strainer consists of a flat, perforated metal disc that resembles a large spoon and fits snugly over the mouth of the mixing glass.
Small Fine Strainer pouring cocktail

Fine Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


Then there’s the fine strainer, the all-important tool that makes your drinks silky smooth. This cone-like mesh strainer works in conjunction with the Hawthorne strainer to double-strain a cocktail with muddled ingredients or egg whites in order to remove any solid particles out of your final drink.
Pouring non-alcoholic rum into cocktail jigger for a mojito mocktail syrup

Japanese Jigger, Copyright A Bar Above

Besides cocktail shakers and strainers, bartenders also use a variety of other tools to create and serve drinks:
  • Jiggers, for example, are small measuring cups used to measure precise amounts of liquid ingredients.
  • Muddlers are used to crush herbs, fruits, and other ingredients to release their flavor.
  • Bar spoons, with their long handles, are used for stirring cocktails in mixing glasses and layering different levels of alcohol in layered cocktails.
  • Ice tongs, pour spouts, and bottle openers are also commonly used by bartenders to make their job easier and more efficient.


wood muddler for holiday gifts

Wood Cocktail Muddler, Copyright A Bar Above


Bartending is a rewarding profession that requires a combination of skills, including mixology, customer service, and multitasking. If you’re interested in becoming a bartender, then gaining experience in the industry, developing your customer service skills, and learning mixology are absolute musts.
By mastering the basics of mixology and learning how to use the tools of the trade, you can become a skilled and successful bartender. Make sure to check out our A Bar Above courses and start your mixology journey today!