flickr photo by Laura Brunow Miner shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I recently read an interesting thread on a popular website that rhymes with neddit. It was listing all of the “rookie” mistakes that people see wet behind the ears bartenders making every day and every night. This got me to thinking: What Rookie Mistakes Have I Seen That Really Annoy Me?

Henceforth, that is the topic of this post. Now, I know there can be a lot of pressure involved when you first step behind the stick and are unleashed unto the world, that’s why we here to teach and not chastise. These things that “rookies” do should not cause them to be lambasted, but instead should enable us to take them to one side and say “Don’t do that, please don’t do that either, and whilst we’re here don’t do that one thing that you do every day that I tell you not to do but you act like you can’t comprehend it and as if I’ve never told you”.

With that in mind, here are some of my thoughts on rookie mistakes behind the bar.

Glasses In The Ice Well

It’s a fairly regular occurrence and it’s actually really dangerous. Using a glass to scoop ice out of the ice well is one of the most common mistakes anyone new to the bar will make and you’d think people would put two and two together and realise “oh wait, I could chip this glass and then the ice would have shards of glass in it that would be harder to find than a sober person at a sorority party”, but you’d be wrong in thinking that.

Not Shaking Cocktails Correctly

I.e not with the small tin or the boston glass facing away from the customer. Do you know how many times those slippery little fools come loose? It’s a lot more than you think and if it’s facing a customer you have a harder chance of stopping it from either exploding in their face or even worse… spilling everywhere. It’s better to hurt yourself or smash a few bottles on your back bar than it is to crack a customer’s nose open… believe me.

Summoning Cthulhu on Shift

The amount of times I’ve had to tell people “No summoning Cthulhu on company time” is unreal. The guy never pays his tabs.

Handling Glassware by The Rim

It may not seem overly obvious at first, but it’s incredibly unhygienic. Picture the scene: A customer has facial herpes but doesn’t yet know about it, they finish their drink and you bundle on over and grab said finished drink with your hands all up in the glass. You give your hands a tiny little rinse with some water and think you’re all good. You eat some food with the same hand and BAM. You now have herpes.

Using One Hand at a Time

Unless you only have the one hand, you should always be looking to use both of your grabby grab grab things when working on a bar. It’s super productive, common sense and stops you from having that one awkward hand just kinda…floating about.

Running Behind The Bar

Seriously, people think this is ok. This isn’t the Olympics, this isn’t a race against time. Walk everywhere or you’re going to fall over, and don’t get cocky and say: “I’ll never fall over, I’m good on my feet” because it is with the last word you say that you will faceplant harder than you’ve ever faceplanted before. Plus, you’ll definitely end up hurting one of your co-workers and you don’t want to do that. They are your only refuge, counsellor, friend, confidant and person who will save you when you head into the weeds.

Asking Customers How Their Day/Life is

Oh boy. You haven’t learned yet have you? Okay, Okay. Settle in for the longest three hours of your life. Asking customers how their day has been is like asking a dog about his favourite bone. You’ll never get to the end of the story and before you know it they’re humping your leg.

I’m kidding of course.

Dog’s can’t talk.

Steven Poland

Hello. I'm Steven: a mid-20's ex bar manager from England with an ego that is only matched by my opinions. I'm not always right, but sometimes I do apologise if I'm not. I've worked on the bar for over eight years, four of them making cocktails and snarling at customers. You can find me at my website or on twitter @StevenPoland.