The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Thirty Six

So you make a mean drink – but would you make a good bartender? This week we’re discussing all of the qualities you’ll need to be a successful professional.

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In today’s Episode…

Are you curious if you’d make a good bartender? I know a lot of cocktail enthusiasts out there make really fantastic drinks – but Bartenders do a lot more than make great drinks! Here are some skills and traits that make a bartender great.

1: Do you genuinely like making people happy?

This is the most important aspect of a bartender’s job. The heart of bartending is Hospitality, and that means doing everything you can to ensure everyone’s having a great time.

  • Making them feel comfortable and providing them with a fun and safe environment
  • Offering suggestions for food and drink
  • Introducing them to like minded people
  • Going out of your way to make sure they have a great time

2: How’s your Memory and Ability to Multi-task?

Bartending is more than just making the drink! In addition to memorizing dozens of cocktail recipes, you’ll also need to remember names and preferences, manage the energy in the room, remember drink orders and possibly even watch the kitchen for food orders. A great memory will definitely help you keep everything straight!

3: Do you enjoy physical work?

You will be constantly moving for 8+ hours. Depending on the bar, there is very little down time and you have to be “on” the entire time. Can you handle it?

4: How do you feel about being the only sober one in a room?

This depends on the bar or restaurant that you work in – some places encourage you to have a drink with your regulars while others strictly forbid it. But for the most part, you’ll be managing a room full of other folks who will be drinking. Would this bother you, or would you enjoy it?

5: Do you get stagefright?

This is one great way to cure it – in fact, this is exactly why Chris originally started his career in hospitality!

6: Can you do quick Math in your head?

While this isn’t as true as it used to be, the ability to quickly calculate ingredient amounts or calculate tabs are still important skills behind the bar. By the way – you won’t have time to pull out a piece of paper or use your iPhone, so you better be able to do your calculations in your head!

7: How are you under pressure?

Have you ever been at a bar and for whatever reason the bartender is visibly stressed out? It’s an uncomfortable experience for everyone.

As a bartender, there are going to be times when you’re overwhelmed. You’ll be a dozen orders deep, your barback calls in sick, or your dishwasher is broken.  But even when things go horribly wrong, you have to stay cool and calm – in addition to holding down the fort.

It’s an especially hard skill to master, but I think this is one of the qualities of a true professional bartender.

8: Do you like cleaning?

Last but not least, there is never a shortage of items to clean behind the bar. With time and use, everything behind the bar can get sticky, dusty, or both.  Not good!

Bartenders spend a huge amount of their time cleaning – the fridge, the ice wells, the bottles … you name it.  If you hate cleaning, then Bartending might just not be your calling!

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Thanks for Listening!

It takes a lot of skill and practice to be a great bartender, and Thank You to all of the bartenders out there who do all of the above every night!

What skills did we miss? Are there any traits that YOU think make a great bartender? Let us know in the comments!

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