Considering a career in bartending? Wondering if you have what it takes to succeed? Here’s what a bartending career can offer you, plus 5 skills to hone that’ll help get you ahead.
Why become a bartender?
Bartending is an appealing career. Firstly, it offers you the chance to master the art of mixology. This is a highly learned skill that requires vast knowledge and in-depth understanding of ingredients, flavors, textures, and presentation options. There is a great sense of satisfaction to be had from knowing how to serve incredible drinks.
Opt for a professional mixology class and you’ll learn all you need to serve amazing cocktails and mocktails using all the tricks and tools of the trade. This will open the door to an exciting career. You’ll get to work in a fun, vibrant atmosphere, and be talking to interesting people day in, day out. Your role will offer you the chance to be creative, too.
Contrary to what some people may think, being a well-qualified mixologist and bartender can be lucrative. Other career development opportunities may follow too, like hospitality management careers, promotional work, or starting your own business.
Considering a move into bartending as a career? Here are 5 qualities that you can develop or learn that will set you apart from the competition…
1. Professional mixology training
Taking an in-depth, professional mixology class will make you a contender for the most interesting and most rewarding bartending jobs. The premium bars, hotels and restaurants in your area will likely expect their bartenders to be able to effortlessly serve a cocktail and mocktail menu. You may even have the chance to help develop their menu or create unique drinks. In a mixology course, expect to learn:
How to use professional bartending tools
The chemistry of various ingredients and how they affect taste and texture when mixed
How to balance drinks ingredients and flavors
Proper methods of preparation, including stirring, smashing, layering, straining, shaking and blending.
Effective presentation methods
In addition to the richly varied knowledge required, there are several soft skills worth developing, too.
2. A sharp memory
Great bartenders need to tap into their ultra-sharp memory often. A busy bar requires working at speed. You’ll need to learn recipes for the most popular drinks on the menu off by heart. This will ensure you provide the timely service that customers expect and help keep the bar running smoothly. The key here is to practice, practice, practice.
Your regular customers will expect consistency, too. You’ll need to make sure your drinks always taste and look the same to keep people coming back. Learning the names of your customers and their favorite drinks will give you an advantage, too. This will help build customer loyalty and improve profits for the bar.
3. Excellent communication skills
As a bartender, you will meet a huge number of people and encounter a wide variety of personalities, both as customers and colleagues. Being able to communicate well will help enormously. Being a good listener is vital. Part of this is your ability to pay attention to details and listen to specific requests from your customers. You may also find yourself becoming a sounding board for your regular customer. Being friendly, approachable and polite at all times will help you become a popular bartender and will keep customers coming back.
Bartending tends to suit more outgoing personality types who are naturally friendly. However, maintaining a professional, friendly demeanor is definitely a skill you can work on. If you tend to be shy, practice by putting yourself in situations where you’ll be meeting new people.
4. Knows how to stay organized and efficient
Being organized goes beyond having a clean, tidy and well-organized bar (all those things are very important, of course). In a busy bar, you will be serving multiple customers. You’ll need to hold a lot of information in your head. For example, who is waiting for drinks, and who has or hasn’t paid.
Staying organized is vital in this environment. You’ll need to know how to prioritize tasks and how to delegate and share responsibilities. Being meticulously accurate in keeping records of orders and payments is vital for a good customer experience.
Outside of busy periods, there’ll be other tasks to keep on top of. These might be related to stock management or the maintenance of your tools, for example, that will keep your bar running smoothly. Being good at multitasking is crucial in bartending. It makes working in a potentially stressful environment much more manageable. The pressure to serve customers in a timely, professional way with delicious, beautifully presented drinks can be difficult. Staying composed, maintaining self-control and being adaptable will stand every bartender in good stead.
5. Possesses more than a hint of artistry and showmanship
Being proud of your work and putting 100% effort into creating and serving your menu will serve you well. Presenting your drinks beautifully provides a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. It will create admiration and respect for your work.
Bartenders need to enjoy the element of attention too. Shaking, mixing and layering drinks is fascinating for customers to watch. Some bartenders relish putting on an impressive show by spinning, throwing and juggling their ingredients as they work. Developing these skills can be lucrative in terms of attracting more customers and improving bar revenue. Knowing how to entertain your patrons will aid your reputation as a professional and help you make a name for yourself. This can lead to further opportunities and an exciting future in the hospitality or beverages industry.
Being a great bartender isn’t just about knowing your ingredients and how to mix them. There are also many soft skills that make bartenders truly great at their work. If you want to be a professional bartender, it’s worth considering how you will further develop your communication, organization, memory and artistic skills as well as your confidence. Being able to demonstrate all the above will put you ahead of the competition when it comes to landing your first professional bartending role.
AUTHOR BIO: Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai