The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Sixty One

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from a 2015 podcast, which we’ve included for you to listen to. Make sure to read below for an up-to-date guide on how to get through the busy holiday season as a hospitality worker.

bartenders at a busy bar during the holidays

Photo by Andreas Forsberg via


The holidays are the busiest – and most lucrative – time of the year to be a bartender. Here’s how to survive, stay sane, and end the season with a lot more cash in your bank.

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In This Episode: Working the Holiday Season

We’re talking about the worst/best time of the year (depending who you ask, and whether they just got off a double or not). How exactly do you survive the holidays without going bonkers, broke, or getting fired?

bartender pouring a drink

Photo by Aurelien Lemasson Theobald via


Plan Ahead

Do you want to work Thanksgiving and Christmas? Are you the type who wants to pick up as many shifts as possible to make a bunch of money?

Or are you the type who would rather forego the shifts and try to get one or both holidays with family? Ask around! You may be able to plan out your holiday shifts with other bartenders’ complementary schedules. If you rely on Management to take charge, you may get stuck with shifts you’re not happy with.

Along the lines of planning ahead, make sure your techniques are tip-top going into this season. Our complete suite of education courses can really help you (or your staff) hone your skills and focus on specific areas of mixology so that you’re extra ready for all those customers.


bartenders working a shift

Photo by Maxwell Jayes via


Holiday Cocktail Menu

Pre-batch your holiday cocktails and choose something that is easy to make. I like to put a relatively simple crowd pleaser on the menu because folks love to order the holiday special; and if it’s easy to make, that makes your life easier as well.  Of course, don’t forget to make sure that you don’t run out of ingredients!



Copyright A Bar Above


Here are a couple of our favorite batched cocktail recipes:

This technique isn’t just great for the holidays; it’s helpful all year round at any bar. If you’re interested in learning more and becoming a batched cocktail expert, enroll in our Batched Cocktails Masterclass to learn techniques and recipes that will help you and your bar be successful well past the holiday season.

lovely gift of gold 14 piece cocktail shaker set for the holidays with an alcoholic cocktail

Copyright A Bar Above



Stock up on anything you could possibly run out of. Set up your work station, and restock your items frequently. If you can, do the full day’s prep work before the first shift. If there’s anything that can be done in advance, do it! You may not have the chance to catch up later on.

You probably know what your bar needs and uses from day-to-day, but here is a guide to stocking that home bar that can also be useful when making sure you have the basics for a professional bar, too.

Because your establishment will be more busy, make sure you also have enough equipment on hand. Do you have cocktail shakers for everyone who will be on shift at once? Hawthorne shakers? Bar spoons?


citrus twist from channel knife

Copyright A Bar Above


Consider replacing old or low-quality barware before the holiday rush. Head to our shop to stock up before things get too busy! We have a lot of new products that could be useful– and that you know won’t break on you 2 weeks into the busiest season. Here are some items you may overlook but that we highly recommend:


bartender making a drink

Photo by Helena Lopes via


Support your Colleagues

Be proactive in general. Everyone is in this together, and anything you can do to support your coworkers will pay off. Try to come in early for your shift and expect to stay late. (Yes, plan for it! Tell the wife you’ll be home late. It’s that time of year… We’ve all been there!)

If your coworker is drowning in the weeds, do what you can to help them out – They will appreciate it and will almost certainly help you out when it’s your turn.

Stay Healthy

You’re exhausted, tired, and all you want is a cocktail. But as awful as it sounds, it’s that much more important to take care of your body during the holiday season. Go to the gym. Drink water. Try to skip the booze where possible– and for goodness sake, STRETCH before your shift!

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Thanks for Listening!

Got your own tricks for surviving the busy season? Let us know in the comments!

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