This week’s post is a guest contribution from Peter Tunney, a bartender and writer for European Bartending School. He’s offering a few suggestions for why bartenders should consider a traveling gig – and how to get started. Thanks Peter!
You’ve seen the Instagram photos – it’s Tuesday at 1:15pm and you see a photo of a friend of a friend drinking a mojito, under a palm tree, on an exotic beach in Asia. Then you check out their profile and see that 3 months ago they were traveling around Europe. You know this person isn’t a millionaire, so how do they manage to maintain this lifestyle?

The simple answer….these people decided to become traveling bartenders. In this post we are going to let you in on the secrets of why and how you can do the same!

5 Reasons to Become a Traveling Bartender

Live like a local

A traveling bartender has one of the most sociable jobs in the world; it’s in the very nature of both the words ‘traveler’ and ‘bartender’. After a few weeks in your new destination, you’ll get to know the locals and learn where to try the local cuisine, thus avoiding tourist traps where they charge you an arm and a leg for a beer. The advantage of being a bartender abroad is that you’ll be able to live like a local in the city you’re bartending in.

Learn from the locals

Being a bartender overseas means you’ll pick up new techniques and learn the drinking habits in every bar you lay your Boston shaker down. The drinking habits in Britain are far different in comparison to those in India for example (far is definitely an understatement). The new skills and knowledge will individualize your bartending process and may even make you appear more attractive (not 100% guaranteed).

Learn valuable life skills

It won’t be uncommon for you to meet people from all walks of life on a weekly basis. From serving martinis to Norwegian airline pilots to whisky sours to Italian chefs, no two days will be the same. This constant interaction with a multitude of cultures and languages will bring its own adventures and one or two challenges along the way; this will enable you to learn crucial skills such as multi-tasking, problem solving and stress management (for sure).

It’s all about the money, money, money

Working as a bartender in a high-end bar will most certainly pay for your globe trekking. Besides being a well-paid job in comparison to the rest of the industry, you’ll also receive good tips for your professional approach and creativeness behind the bar. All of this money will allow you to explore your new destination on your days off and plan your future travels, that’s what you’re there for right?

Enhance your future prospects

Making the decision to become an international bartender in the present will only positively affect your future. By working around the world as a traveling bartender you’ll assemble an impressive and unique CV, how many people do you know that have worked as a bartender in Japan? This professional experience will be invaluable for the future, not only to help you gain a prestigious bartending position but also with regard to all other professions.

How to Get Started

Now you’ve decided to travel the world as a bartender, here’s how to do it in 5 simple steps. The 5 steps are as easy to follow as making a Mary Pickford cocktail.

Follow Bartending Trends

Use social media to your advantage, read as much material as you can about the bartending industry, look up the newest trends, most up-and-coming bartenders and best hints and tips. All of this will help you learn the basics of bartending which will help you integrate into a bar environment much easier.

Consider a Reputable Bartending School

If you want to get a bartending position in a high-end bar, you’ll need a special set of skills and a rather extensive knowledge of drinks, especially cocktails. Just like learning anything else if you really want to become a professional, you need to learn from experts with profound knowledge and understanding. One easy and quick way to get yourself on the road to becoming a traveling bartender is to attend a course at a bartending school. Check the reputation of your bartending school, see how long they’ve existed, how many students have graduated and also check out some of their student reviews.

Get your Foot in the Door – Locally

Depending on where you travel in the world, each bartending job will require varying levels of experience. The best thing to do is try to get some practical experience if you haven’t previously worked behind the stick. This practical experience will drastically improve your chances of employment and your skill level once you arrive.

Preparation is key

Just like any other profession, you must prepare your resume properly. Make sure you only use professional references from previous employers, we’d advise leaving out your aunt’s review about how ‘Jacob makes an awesome rum and coke’. Be sure to print out multiple copies of your resume before beginning your travels and pack some smart attire to wear for your interview. Personal appearance is essential as a bartender in a high-end bar; you’re representing yourself and the establishment.

Be Fearless

So it’s your first night in your new destination, before sending a Snapchat to all of your friends, head straight out in to the local town and start scoping out the scene. Your bartending job isn’t going to come to you; you’ve got to take the initiative (or “grab the bottle by the neck” –  in bartending terms…) Find a bar you like and chat with the staff to get a good feeling for the place. The next step is to speak to the manager and make them an offer they can’t refuse…a free shift on the upcoming weekend. They may or may not take you up on your offer (depending on local customs and laws) but this show of ambition along with your strong resume and experience will help you get that bartending job you’ve been working so hard for.

Bartending is one of the few jobs that can truly take you anywhere. Consider taking some time off to travel and bartend on the road a while – you might find it’s an amazing experience that makes you an even better bartender.

About Peter Tunney

Peter is has worked in beach bars in the south of Spain and is very fond of tea and rum (never mixed together though.)

He’s a junior copywriter for the European Bartending School and you’re likely to find him exploring Barcelona with a slice of pizza in hand.

Julia Tunstall

Julia Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and Chief Cocktail Taster. She's in charge of keeping things running smoothly around here, but you'll also find her stopping by on the Mixology Talk Podcast or hanging around the Craft Cocktail Club.