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Tips Of The Trade For Perfect Bartending

Apr 2, 2008
Mixing drinks is about more than just using the right cocktail shakers, it is also important to remember that bartenders interact with people constantly, and as such, need to have excellent people skills. An engaging personality, good grooming, a great memory, the ability to be both fast and efficient, and an extensive knowledge of beer, wines, cocktails, and liquor are all absolute musts.

When you begin work at a new bar, begin by opening all of the coolers and cabinets to get an idea of the stock, noting the locations of keys, extra bags, and martini and cocktail shakers. Ask where the restrooms are located, which types of bottled beers are served, what the policy is on running tabs and credit cards for customers, where the back up mixers and shakers are located, what types of glassware are used in that particular bar, whether or not coffee is brewed at the bar as well, and any other relevant questions that you can think of, with the goal of sounding, ultimately, like an experienced bartender, even if you have not really had much practical experience.

If you really want to look like a pro, be sure to use both hands when you are mixing and preparing drinks, always make more than one drink at a time, and keep your head up as much as possible. The real defining trait of a top bartender, however, is efficiency. If you notice that you find yourself taking a lot of trips to search for bottles and cocktail shakers, you should take the extra time to create a set station for yourself, a place where all of your equipment will remain at all times during your shift. When this is in place, you can concentrate on keeping your stools, glasses, bar surface, prep area, and shakers and mixers immaculately clean, and insuring that all of your garnishes remain fresh, and that the proper garnishes are always used for each drink.

Top bartenders also make a concentrated effort to really get to know their regular customers. This does not mean that you will be required to cultivate a friendship with each one, but you should expect to spend as much time as possible talking with people who come in on a regular basis. This leads to better tips, and the recommendations of these people to their friends, which in turn leads to more tips, and so on. Bartending is an art, and a skill, and as with most skills, practice really does make perfect.
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