to Miss Charming's FAQ Page
movies and TV, bartenders are typically portrayed
providing solace to the downtrodden, offering psychological
advice to the confused, supplying private detectives with info,
or puttin’ on a show.
real life, bar owners and managers see
a bartender as a salesperson whose job it is to sell as much
product (food and drink) any way they can. Owners and managers
love big numbers. Can’t blame ‘em. From a guests
perspective bartender’s only make drinks, flirt, and fill
up tip jars, but when you work behind the bar—for real—
you soon discover it shore is different from the way it looks
up there on that big ole’ wide screen. But isn’t
Most professions are
either mental or physical. Bartending is both. Here’s
the deal: In your area, there are many bars a guest can order
a Rum & Coke, right? So, why would someone
want to keep ordering a Rum & Coke from you?
the big picture: Restaurants and bars are built
every single day for one purpose and one purpose only; to make
money. American bartenders work for tips. A $1 tip per drink
has been pretty standard since the 1970’s. Guests that
run tabs normally tip 15% or more. Your bottom line is to sell
as much as you can because the more you sell the more money
Bars are like any other store. They buy products and
sell those products for a profit. As a bartender you’re
selling products just as a car salesman sells his products.
And both of you are making a commission (bartender tips are
kind of like tiny commissions that add up to one big one). So,
you sell your product anyway you can to make money. If that
way involves; attention, a smile, a good handshake, remembering
names, telling them a joke, making a drink with style, or whatever!
Then that’s what you do.
People like bartenders. They like
to be their friend, they like to say that they know you, tell
you lots of secrets, ask your advice, hook you up with all kinds
of big ticket goodies…no doubt, it’s cool to be
a bartender. Bartenders are like mini-celebrities in towns everywhere.
Which is fitting because in order to make money you have to
provide an excellent guest experience so that they will tip
you. Which means that there’s a lot of acting going on
in this line of work. Why do you think so many actors wait tables
and tend bar before they become famous?
bartender schools can be helpful, but they’re
not the only way to learn about bartending and they cannot
guarantee you a job. As a matter of fact, you won’t
even be able to put it on your resume or application because
managers and real bartenders will roll their eyes. It’s
sad for the good bartender schools because the bad ones have
given their business a bad name. Also, know that you don’t
have to learn the hundreds of drinks they make you memorize,
which is my biggest complaint about bar schools. I’ve
been making the same 30 drinks for almost 3 decades! My second,
and last, complaint is that most don’t even employ people
that actually work as a bartender. Wouldn’t you rather
listen to someone walking the talk? I think that’s why
students always liked me.
ON EXPERIENCE VS BARTENDING SCHOOL
my analogy on bartender schools; I hurt
my right hand (I'm right-handed) and was forced to write a
grocery list with my left hand. Now, my left hand has seen
the right hand write--it even knows the alphabet! However,
it doesn’t have the experience. The proof was in my
elementary looking letters on the grocery list. My right
hand represents the bartender that gets experience by getting
into the industry any way they can and my left hand represents
the book learning method at bar schools.
truth is that you don’t need to know the history of
spirits to be a bartender. You can learn and absorb all of
that later. A skeleton bartender needs to know about standard
drinks, glassware, bar tools, mixers, garnishes, and the POS
system. That’s it. You build from there.
highly recommend getting into the biz anyway you
can in order to become a really great bartender (server, barback,
cocktailer). This gives you a better sense and understanding
of what the F&B business is all about. It also teaches you
respect and gives you a foundation to build on. Combine this
with some training at a reputable bartending school to tweak
your knowledge further and you're on your way to becoming an
extraordinary bartender. And extraordinary bartenders make the
most money, get the best hook-ups, and are offered incredible
opportunities. Who wouldn't want this?
THE COLD HARD TRUTH ABOUT BAR SCHOOL
the deal. If you decide to shell out $600 to
a bartender school and think that after 2 weeks you are now
a bartender, well, you are sadly mistaken. The most important
thing to know is that bar schools are a business. And all
businesses need money to stay open.
let's say that someone does give you a chance
without you "paying your dues" (it's possible!).
Other employees get pissed off when someone is not pulling
their own weight, especially when they have been waiting in
line to move up. They will make your life hell. No one wants
to train a new guy without experience then split tips with
them when you are doing most of the work. The only training
that someone should have to do is on the computer, showing
you where stuff is and that's it. Any experienced bartender
should be able to walk behind ANY bar and take off.
Don't ever get the idea that bartending is just about knowing
all the years that I've tended bar, I've made
the same 30 drinks over and over and over. When popular drinks
are going around it's easy to just add them to your memory
bank. Learn the drinks all bartenders should know
'til you get to do the fun stuff that you don't
learn in a bartender school, like carrying cases and cases
of beer to stock, changing a keg when your slammed, stay after
for an hour or more just cleaning, then going home smelling
like a brewery. Also, throughout the night be ready to remember
10 things at all times, count correct change, ID people, keep
tabs straight, wait on servers as well, and if you don't have
a barback you better get all those glasses washed, constantly
clean the bar top, open wine bottles, refill mixers as you
go, deal with many personality types, and on and on and on.
Oh, don't forget to smile during all this.
You don’t need a license,
certificate, or any paper to tend bar. Nurses, Doctors, and
Architects need a license. Bartending is a blue-collar profession
and even uses the basic application you filled out when applying
for your first job at 16. However, some states and some establishments
say that you have to be certified before you can work as a
bartender. This is only about a food & beverage class
you and everyone else in the F&B business must take. In
these classes you learn basics like proper storage of food,
safety, accepted forms of ID's etc. The reason establishment’s
make you take the classes is because they get a break on insurance.
Sometimes you will have to pay for the class. The most popular
nationwide program is TIPS
QUALITIES DO YOU NEED TO BE A BARTENDER?
2. Good grooming and nice looks
3. Great memory
4. Knowledge of liquor, beer, wines, cocktails, and local
5. Good money handling skills and average math skills
6. Responsible and dependable team player.
7. Something unique
8. Physical strength
9. A people person
10. Fast and efficient
Charming's Bar School Boot Camp
I propose that you create your own Bar School Boot Camp.
Here are some things to consider.
1. Before you can get your foot through the door,
ya gotta knock. Take a bartender book (mine that comes out in October
would be perfect) and go to a bar that has a nice bartender working
the day shift. Be there between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (between lunch
and dinner is a bar’s slowest time). Great places to try first
are chain restaurants or any restaurant with a bar. You’re
searching for a BarMentor (half bartender and half mentor).
You might have to check out a few of places until you feel a connection
with someone, but it’ll happen. Order something to eat and
have this book just lying there. While you’re waiting for
your food, start thumbing through the book. (Here’s a secret:
most bartenders like people with books. So often guests look to
bartenders to entertain them, but when you bring your own source
of entertainment the bartender will immediately like you.) Here’s
what I predict, the bartender will ask, “Whatcha reading?”
And the door opens.
This is your opportunity to make a real connection with a real bartender.
Tell them that you want to be a bartender one day and you’re
trying to learn everything there is about bartending. Then ask them
how they learned. Let them say as much as they want because bartenders
don’t get to talk about themselves too often; this will be
a refreshing change for them. Making a good connection like this
is one of the best things you can do. You’ll be able to return
and ask questions and get real information and instruction from
someone who is actually doing what you want to do.
2. Somehow, someway, get several empty liquor bottles.
Frat house trashcans, your barmentor, end of the night at parties,
or dumpsters behind bars are excellent places to look. Clean them
inside and out, fill them with water, and put pourers on them then
label them. You can even get creative and add food coloring. (A
few drops of tea work well for the whiskeys.) Next, go to your local
thrift stores and get a small collection of bar glassware. You must
purchase some bar tools because every profession has tools of the
trade. You must know how to use them, and more important, get a
good feel for them. And after you own them, you have the bonus of
being ready to work any private party anytime, anywhere.
Don’t feel overwhelmed—I’ve made building your
own practice bar easy! Go to my Bar Store at www.charming.barstore.com
to help get you started. If you need a list of what to get then
email me. The only other thing you’ll need is a large gym
bag to store and tote your tools.
Teach yourself how to pour, strain, muddle, stir, build, rim, roll,
chill, flame, float, layer, shake, everything. If you don’t
have a counter that’s the height of a bar, use your ironing
board. Go to bars and watch bartenders. What do they have on tap?
Where is their wine kept? Where’s the trash can? Are they
running tabs? Are the beer glasses chilled? What kind of bottle
opener are they using? Just be aware of everything they do. If you
can find a bar where the bartender is slammed and you can hide in
the corner at the end of the bar, this is great—you don’t
want them seeing you stare. Eye contact with a bartender should
only be made if you need something or if they approach you.
3. Go out and find a job anywhere in the food and beverage
industry, even if it’s part-time. It’s
important that you understand the inner workings. Also, if you’ve
never worked a POS system or cash register, I highly recommend that
you pick up a shift somewhere where you have to so you can get some
real hands-on experience with it.
4. Keep your eyes and ears open for any mention of any party of
any kind. When you hear of someone throwing a party, tell them you’d
like to bartend the party for free. If they say, “All we’re
serving is sangria,” reply, “Ok! I’ll serve the
sangria!” If they’re only serving beer and wine, it’s
a great chance for you to practice opening beer and wine bottles.
The whole idea is repetition. Stop and think of something you’re
good at. Now, why are you good at it? Most times it’s because
you’ve had lots of practice.
5. Try to learn something new everyday. Learn how to cut garnishes,
do bar tricks, spiral napkins, etc. Make flash cards, keep practicing,
learn from books or any other media, and visit bars. When you finally
apply at a bar, go there and hang out. Listen to the drink orders
and watch how they do things and you’ll be prepared for how
that bar operates.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or concerns and,
of course, your success stories.
KIND OF ESTABLISHMENTS NEED BARTENDERS?
I guest speak at bar schools the
number one thing that amazes me is that most the students have no
idea that there are so many different types of bars. In their minds,
they thought that there were only chain restaurants and dance clubs.
Every profession has an entry level. Here are some great bars
for a beginner bartender.
or Tavern Beertender...At pubs and taverns you generally
just serve beer. You can polish your people skills, memory,
and many of the things on the bartender quality list. Tips can
be good, but these places are generally local places, so you
better get use to seeing the same ole' faces.
Bartender...A service bartender can be found in restaurants
that don’t have an exposed bar, but offer alcohol on their
menu. Servers come to your small space to get drinks. The only
tips you receive are from the servers. Comedy Clubs, busy Asian
restaurants, restaurants that have two or more floors, and places
that provide entertainment normally have service bars.
or Catering Bartender...Banquet and caterer bartending jobs
are perfect for a beginner. First you have to get hired at a
catering company, hotel, or a place that hosts conventions and
events. The company organizes the events and you tend bar. The
bars are portable so there’s a little muscle involved
in getting all of your supplies and stock together. Now, each
event is different, but most times it’s just a basic bar
set-up, which means that you won’t be making any frozen
or blended drinks (just highballs, juice drinks, bottled beer,
and wine), use a soda gun, and you don’t have to deal
with collecting cash, running tabs, or making change. Sometimes
it’s a cash bar, but it’s out of a simple cash drawer.
Payment is different all over. It can be a percentage of the
sales of the event or a flat fee, which is sometimes put on
Bartenders...Many restaurants that have bars are looking
for daytime bartenders because most of the money is made at
night. Daytime bartenders can get a small lunch rush but spend
most of their day stocking the bar for the nighttime bartender.
Sometimes they get to overlap into the happy hour helping out
during that rush. This is a great way to get your foot in the
door, pay your dues, prove yourself, build a clientele, and
get paid to learn. Plus, there will be many times when a nighttime
bartender will want a shift off here and there and you’ll
be the first one asked. Try Mexican restaurants, they seem to
always need a daytime bartender for some reason.
Bars...Most hotel bars are pretty boring. You are totally
dependent on the occupancy of the hotel. When it’s dead,
it’s dead and even when it’s full it can dead unless
it’s full of people that like to drink. Most times, locals
don’t visit hotel bars unless they are really nice bars.
But for a beginner bartender, this is a great stepping-stone
to greater opportunities.
Private Party Bartender...Tending bar at private parties
are great because you’re working for yourself. Prices
are settled on beforehand, you use what the host provides, and
guests are always in a happy mood. The down side is that you
almost have to be working at a bar already to be able to advertise
yourself. As a beginner bartender I would ask for $100 for every
three hours they need you.
BARS TO WORK
chain Bartender...Most of these positions are hired from
within. Most of the time people are waiting in line to move
up. Chain restaurants want you to learn their menu and pay your
dues before you get behind the wood. But, here’s a secret,
if you can find a place that’s opening your chances are
99% better. You can make great money and also get the opportunity
to travel and transfer to other stores around the planet. The
downside is that chains have so many corporate rules. But every
job has its good and bad.
Bartender...These are the busy nightclub bartenders that
move to a non-stop heavy beat. Most times they’re reading
lips. Money can be huge even after tipping out the bar backs
and splitting tips. The downside is that you almost always have
to work holidays and weekends, you come home smelling like an
ashtray, and you’re hearing begins to be affected. You
can be hired from within, or know somebody to get these jobs.
& Beach Bars...These bars can be tricky because
they are seasonal unless you live in a super warm climate year
round. The bartenders are like squirrels saving nuts for the
winter because their whole livelihood depends on the weather.
Every pool & beach bartender is addicted to the weather
channel. They also usually stay put for a long while because
the money can be huge, so it can be hard to make your way into
the good ones. I love these bars because of the constant connection
Bars...I’ve never worked an airport bar, but
I’ve talked with some airport bartenders and they seem
to do pretty good money wise. Of course, not every airport
bar is the same. The biggest complaint seems to be the time
it’s takes to get to the bar because they have to park
so far out in the parking lot.
Ships...If you’re an American forget about it.
I know, I know, you see the ads in the paper all the time. Trust
me, they’re all a scam. I worked on a cruise ship for
6 years in the Caribbean, but I was part of an experiment. See,
I worked with 56 other nationalities from around the world and
the reason cruise ships have all these people working for them
is because of the currency exchange in their country. For example,
when I worked on the ship the daily pay for a cocktail server
was $10. Now, the cocktail servers were from Thailand and one
American dollar was equivalent to $25 in Thailand. So they sent
95% of their money home. You’re not going to get an American
to work for $10 a day; it’s cheaper to hire people from
other countries. I knew people that would work the cruise ships
for 15-20 years and retire very rich in their country. Now,
there are two places you can try. American Hawaii cruise line
and the Delta Queen Riverboat that goes up and down the Mississippi.
These are American owned.
course there are more bars to list. Other bars include
Piano Lounges, Country Bars, Brew Pubs, Country Clubs, Jazz Bars,
Wine Bars, Strip Clubs, Karaoke Bars, VIP Bars, Flair Bars, Sports
Bars, French Bistros, Tapas Bars, Gay Bars, Neighborhood Bars, Biker
Bars, Poetry Reading Bars, Pool Halls, Street Bars, Irish Pubs,
British Pubs, Outdoor Bars, Cantinas, Salsa Bars, Ski Resort Bars,
Amtrak Bar Cars, Excursion Bars, Dive Bars, Tiki Bars, and more.
As far as money goes, I have seen bartenders in hole-in-the-wall
places walking with $300 a night and bartenders from the fancy bars
walk with $50.
Top 5 Ways To Get A Bartender Job
Know that--typically--the position of "bartender" is not
an entry level position.
1. Be in the industry. This means that you’re already
working as a host/hostess, server, busser, cook, cocktail server,
or bar back. Managers prefer to hire within because they know your
work habits, your dependability, and how you work with others. The
immediate positions right underneath a bartender are; bar back,
cocktail server, and server. Bartenders just like everyone else
get sick, go on vacation, have emergencies, or just want a day off.
This is your opportunity to prove yourself. Let management know
that your goal is to make it behind the bar and you’re willing
to pay your dues for it. At the same time, make friends with the
bartenders. Run errands for them, pick up their food, tip them well,
and have then quiz you on drinks. Trust me, it'll pay off.
2. Go get a job in the industry. High volume nightclubs
are so busy that they must have bar backs. A bar back is a busy
bartenders backbone. They keep the ice bin filled, fill the juices,
wash glasses, empty the trash, change the kegs, run for backups
and do anything else the bartender needs. Oh, and they are masters
of staying out of the bartenders way. Bartenders will tip you out
very well, if you’re good. The next best foot in the door
position is to be a cocktail server. Take these positions, sponge
everything and get paid to learn.
3. Apply at a place that that is opening. I have personally
done this five times. If you have a little experience with great
eye contact, grooming, presence, and a killer looking resume, then
your 99% guaranteed a bar position.
4. Know someone. Yep, some people get bartender jobs just
from knowing the right people and being in the right place at the
right time. Pick out a bar that you like and get to know the manager.
Work your magic and sell yourself. That’s all we do anyway.
5. Learn all you can from books and other media, set up a practice
bar at home, talk friends into having parties so you can practice
tending bar, go to bars and absorb everything you can, then walk
to the edge and jump. Fake it ‘til you make it, baby.
I’ve seen it done many times. But don’t worry, I’m
going to give you lots of tips and hints to help you look like you
know what you’re doing.
The good bartender jobs are never advertised
in the classifieds. And by good I mean the ones where you make good
money. Most times jobs are filled through word of mouth and hiring
from within. What about those ads that say, Will train, Make $$$,
No experience necessary? They’re either a strip club or bartending
school. Lots of bartenders in the same area network, send each other
business, and borrow things from each other when they run out throughout
the night, so it’s like an underground system you have to
Know that even I have had to take many server positions and
then work my way up (yes! even with several years of bartending
experience). However, it’s always talked about upfront with
the manager at the interview about how I need to be reassured that
I will be able to move up to the bar in a certain time frame. One
time when working at Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World, I dropped
from bartender to cocktail server just so I could watch all the
fantastic live improv shows at the Comedy Warehouse. People thought
I was crazy.
Second Golden Age of the Cocktail
Since 2000, something happened in the Cocktail World that you should be aware of and its the second Golden Age of the Cocktail. The first golden age was in the late 1800s until 1920. Bartending was taken seriously and cocktails were crafted with real ingedients.
Today, the second golden age can best be described by comparing and 4-5 star chef crafting an incredible meal with a classic foundation then using the freshest ingredients and imagination.
The man credited for this shift in the cocktail world is Dale DeGroff. His website is KingCocktail.com. Starting in about 2000 and all the way to today this rebirth has exploded. Craft and classic bars are no longer limited to big cities. They are trinkling into the the smaller cities worldwide. Dale started the Museum of the American Cocktail and also helped start the world's largest cocktail festival held every July in New Orleans called Tales of the Cocktail. Since, there are cocktail weeks popping up all over the world. There is now The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, San Francisco Cocktail Week, Portland Cocktail Week, London Cocktail Week, and so many more.
With so many websites and information, it's hard to know how to get started on the right path, but the links I've provided will get you started.
Make sure you become facebook friends with as many as these people as possible and that will lead to more connections.
Join Gary Regans' Bartender Database.
Tobin Ellis' Social Mixology.
Join Simon Diffords' newsletter.
When you are checking out drink recipes sites then there are two that you should use as guidelines. Ted Haighs' Cocktail Database, and David Wondrichs' Cocktail Database.
A new recipe database that is more modern is Kindred Cocktails.
Well, this should be enough to get you started in the right direction.
are some threads from webtender.com that I thought you might find
interesting about how other bartender got a job.
to Miss Charming's FAQ Page