Do you love mixing drinks for people and showing off in the kitchen?
Do you enter a bar and find yourself wishing you were the one sliding perfectly-filled-to-the-brim beers across the counter one after another, no skill involved?
If you answered with a proud “hell yeah,” then it sounds to me like you’re thinking of becoming a bartender.
But what exactly do you have to do to become one (other than pray you get hired)? While no formal education or certification is required to perform the job, aspiring bartenders must be knowledgeable about both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, as well as learn how to cater to a variety of customers.
Still interested in the job? Let’s take a look at some easy ways to prepare yourself for a bartending position. Oh, and don’t stress out—none of these require you to fork out money for a training program.
Step 1: Be an Extrovert
First things first, you can’t expect to become an awesome bartender without developing a seriously awesome personality. Now, don’t try to change what makes you you; instead, focus on honing your gregariousness. Go out often, whether it’s to bars, restaurants or that crappy nearby mall. Make goals to converse with new people every day (and by converse, I mean saying something besides “hey”). The more comfortable and friendly you are with strangers, the more likely future customers will fall in love with your laid-back attitude.
Step 2: Research Drink Recipes
Good bartenders don’t just know drinks—they live and breathe them. And the best way to become an alcohol connoisseur is by setting aside time to study the culinary-like skills of taste, balance and presentation. You don’t have to sign up for a course either; just hop online for a drink recipe, buy the ingredients and start practicing at home. Eventually, your friend group will be nicknaming you “that guy/girl who makes really good drinks.” .
Step 3: Go to Bars
A simple but often overlooked asset, bar-going experience will give you a practical overview of what bartending encompasses during a typical work shift. Make sure to visit bars at all times of day, too—twilight, happy hour, 10:06 in the morning. You’ll start to see when you can expect certain types of customers and what kind of personas work best with whom.
Step 4: Become a Night Owl
Not all bartending positions will require you to work super late into the night, but most will necessitate some night-owl-like habits, especially if you’re planning to work at nightclubs or popular party destinations. In other words, if you’re a morning person, start sleeping in!
Step 5: Gain Customer Service Experience
I know not everyone wants to hear this, but getting a part-time retail gig is a good indicator of whether you’ll be able to handle the customer service aspect of bartending. Some people forget bartending isn’t all just about making fancy drinks and whipping them out faster than lightning. What it’s really about is creating a good atmosphere. Your face is what people will associate with that particular bar, so smile, enforce the rules and be polite at all times. And when you finally become a bartender, top off your skills by being able to make one hell of a margarita.