Bartending is more than just serving customers drinks. Walk into any bar on a Friday night and you will see an array of drinks being served, music blasting and happy customers enjoying themselves.
Yet it’s behind the scenes where the real action takes place. Bartending is so much more than just serving drinks to customers, it’s also about dealing with people and that presents a challenge. There are many different roles a bartender takes on in order to do their jobs efficiently and professionally.
When you think of bartending as a profession it sounds fascinating; mixing drinks, laughing with customers, cracking open bottles and salting the rims of glasses. Bartenders enjoy a lot of freedom and it can be hard to give up. It is a really social job that’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work. You are on your feet for long shifts dealing with all types of people and there are a ton of not so fun things things like stocking the bar, tapping the kegs, wiping down the counters and diffusing bad situations.
As a bartender you perform five main roles:
Bartending as ‘The Trained Mixologist’
Any great bartender has about a 100 drinks memorized and knows they need to be able to mix and serve them in a matter of minutes. When you get that order in for three Manhattans, two Long Island Ice Teas, a pint of beer and six Jaeger Bombs you don’t have time to look up every recipe. It’s go time. Your customers are thirsty and your number one job is pleasing them.
Bartending as ‘The Good Friend’
“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.” said the visionary, Henry David Thoreau. In bartending this quote really rings true. Your job is to meet the needs of your guests. Sometimes that is just lending an ear and being a good friend. People go out to bars for various reasons including: to relax and unwind, to be entertained and to get through the rough spots in life. It’s important to make your customers feel comfortable in your establishment. You have to get to know your regular customers and cultivate those relationships. Knowing a few details about your regulars really helps you to play the friendship role well. Here are a few guidelines for conversing with your customers:
Never get into debates about politics and religion
Be cautious when giving out your opinions and advice
Small talk about weather and sports are usually safe conversations
Be caring and friendly even if you don’t like your customer’s thoughts or opinions
The Busy Employee
Keeping the customers happy is great, making the boss happy is fantastic. I have heard in the nightclub world the bartender is considered the jack of all trades. They are called that because the bartender is the server, the maid, the waitress, the cashier, the entertainer and the stock boy all wrapped into one.Their job includes stocking the bar, filling up the ice buckets, replenishing the garnishes, cleaning the bar and on occasion even washing the dishes. Bartending can be a fun job but it is still a job that requires you to do a lot of hard work.
Just like being a good friend to your customers sometimes you have to be their counselor. This can include listening to them, giving advice, calming them down and even cutting people off. It’s not an easy job but if you have great communication skills and know how to cheer people up you are on the right track.
The One-Show Entertainer
The best part of the job for any bartender is enjoying their customers and having fun. There are many ways that a bartender is the entertainer from how they control the music and television to how they serve their drinks. Sometimes you have to be the joke-teller and sometimes the listener. A fun atmosphere keeps your customers coming back.
No matter what role you are playing while you are at work, it’s up to you to put your heart into it. Bartending is a job that consists of multitasking several different roles into one. The better you are at multitasking the happier your customers and boss will be. You may not be great at all of these different roles but if you focus on the areas that you need improvement on you will become a better bartender over time.
BOTY connects people at the bar. We make the bar experience more enjoyable for all involved.
Our community and resources support and empower the individuals who comprise this industry. We seek to change the stigma of frequent bar goers and promote the bartending profession as legitimate career choice.