The recent recession has made it difficult for many unemployed people to find jobs in their field. The one area where employment opportunities are growing are in the service industry. These type of jobs are difficult to
automate or outsource abroad. This is especially true for bartenders. If someone at their local bar wants a drink, they can’t send the order to China or India. It has to be made on the spot quickly and efficiently.
A recent report by the U.S. Government for the job market showed signs that economic growth is slowing and well short of full employment. If you’re an engineer or a specialized factory worker, job prospects for this group of skilled workers has been strong. Globalization and the rapid advance of technology have diminished job opportunities for unskilled workers and many office workers.
The real job growth according to David Autor , an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are personal service jobs that can’t be automated or easily done by machines. Bartending is a perfect example of type of job that can’t be eliminated.
Between 2007 and 2010 the total number of jobs fell by 6%. Some sectors of the job market fell by as much as 12% if they were in middle management of office work. While personal service jobs only fell by 1%. The payrolls of the US large companies that specialize in personal services has been growing steadily in recent years. According to the Wall Street Journal Panera Bread Co. has increases its U.S work force by 22,000 jobs a 50% increase. Chipotle Mexican Grill has added another 12,000 new jobs to its work force an increase of 60%. Health Care companies have also increased their work force substantially by 84%.
Because of the increased job opportunities in the service industry, many people who lost their office or factory jobs have been forced to accept lower paying jobs in the service industry. Let’s face it; working in fast food doesn’t pay very much. It’s OK if you’re a teenage but if you’re a bread winner you need something better.
While many service jobs are on the low end of the pay scale, bartending is one of the better service jobs. According to the US Department of Labor estimates bartenders earn $20-$30 and hour with their salary and tips. If they work for a hotel or restaurant chain, they may receive health care and retirement benefits.
Victor Torres, a graduate of the American Bartenders School in Palm Desert, Ca. had a construction job that paid him $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Victor was a high school drop out and started working construction at 17. “It was great while it lasted, but I don’t think construction is going to come back for a long time and that’s while I decided to learn a new skill and become a bartender.” Victor now works at a local casino as a bartender and thinks he will make as much bartending as he did in construction. “People always eat and drink no matter what the economy. I think people drink more the tougher times get.”
Rachel Hernandez a recent graduate of the American Bartenders School NYC “I lost my job on Wall Street and needed some fast training. I got certified in a week and I now work at a sports bar in Brooklyn. It beats sitting at a desk all day.”
Many people who want to bartender think all there is to bartending is opening a bottle of beer, pouring a shot and knowing a few jokes to entertain customers. Often they think that they can fake their way into a lucrative
bartending job because they know a few drinks and have also been the bartender at a party. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Bartenders can easily earn $150-$300 daily with their salary and tips. This is a good paying job and owners and managers know it. This is why they are particular about who they hire. They want to make sure that the person applying for the job knows mixology, customer service and alcohol awareness before they put them behind their bar.
There is no official bartending license or certification that’s issued or needed to start bartending in mosts states or cities. However, finding someone to hire you without bartending job experience or a certificate from a state licensed bartending school, it’s almost impossible to get a bartending job.
An approved state department of education licensed bartending school is very helpful because the certification shows potential employers that you have been trained in the basics. Licensed bartending schools have real working bars where the students get hands on experience making the most popular drinks. Most state departments of education require bartending schools to have programs that are 32 hours or more. These schools have excellent job placement departments where they assist graduates in finding full or part time jobs.
I recommend that you visit a school and watch a free class. This will give you an opportunity to meet with the instructors and speak with current students. American Bartenders Schools in NYC, NJ and Palm Desert, Ca. offers a free introductory class.
With the prospects for many new college graduates dim, many are returning to school to become bartenders. According to Joe Bruno, director of American Bartenders School in New York, over 33 percent of our classes are now college grads. A bartender can earn $150 to $300 daily with salary and tips. This works out to be better than unpaid internships or low end jobs that pay $10 or $12 an hour.
It’s a real shame that these kids have invested tens of thousands of dollars in their college degree and not be able to get a decent paying job. Many of my students who recently graduated from college complain that they have borrowed thousands of dollars on student loans. Without a decent paying job they’re scared that they won’t be able to make their monthly payments.
One of the good things about learning bartending is that it costs less than $700 and the class only takes 2 weeks. With the vast numbers bars and restaurants, there are always good job opportunities. Since many bartending jobs are at night, this gives recent grads time during the day to look for a job in a field that they graduated in. Another real advantage of learning bartending is that a person can work at it part time to make extra money.
There are bartending schools in most major cities. It’s a good idea to visit the school before enrolling. Not all bartending schools are created equal. Look for a school that is licensed by the state. Has a real working bar where you can practice making drinks and a job placement service that can give you some help in finding a job. Beware of cheap schools that guarantee jobs and have one or two day courses. They look good because they are cheap but usually they aren’t state licensed and don’t give a person enough practice time to be confident in their bartending skills.
Janet Kimsat, graduated from an Ivy League School with a masters in Art History. After looking for a job in her field for 6 months, she decided to take a 2 week bartending class. Janet liked the class and appreciated the hands on training behind a real bar. Janet went on 10 job interviews before she was hired at a sports bar in Queens. “It took me 3 weeks to find a bartending job, but if I didn’t take the bartending course, I would still be looking for a job in the art field.”
Bartending isn’t for everyone and it’s always a good idea to ask to sit in on a free lesson before deciding. American Bartenders School in New York and New Jersey allow prospective students to meet the instructor and speak with current students before making a decision.
Bartending is one of the few jobs that are both mental and physical skills. Bartender needs manual dexterity to handle bar tools, bottles and glassware. Customer service skills are necessary because bartending is a service job and happy customers are more likely to leave a tip.
A bartending job is highly desirable and can be high paying. A New York bartender can up to $150 to $300 daily and more with salary and tips. A person with no experience can easily learn how to bartend at a New York State Education Department licensed bartending school. This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants quick job training that can lead to a well-paying career.
If you don’t have any experience, ignore the advice of people who say start as a server or a bar back. You’ll be wasting your time. I have talked to many servers and bar backs who thought that would be there ticket to a bartending job, but it never happened. Most establishments don’t have the time or the personal to train a person with no experience.
Why should an establishment hire someone without experience when they can call their local bartending school and get graduates who have already been trained in the basics? There are those that do find jobs with no experience but it usually is because their friend owns the place or they’re a hot looking chick that the owner or manager wants to put the moves on.
It takes time to learn how to make all the drinks and it’s important that you practice making them behind the bar. Choose a bartending school like the American Bartenders School that has a 40 hour certification class that’s licensed by state. Forget cheap programs that are only 1 or 2 days long. You’re wasting your time and money. You won’t get enough practice time or instruction to have the necessary skills to land a job.
Once you have bartender training you’re going to have to put in time and effort in getting a job. Jobs where you can make over $1,000 a week to start are in high demand and worth the effort. One of the best things about looking for a bartending job is that potential employers are all around you. On every busy street there are restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels that use bartenders. With over 15,000 places in New York you can be sure there are many full and part time jobs available.
If you’re not sure bartending is right for you, attend a free class at American Bartenders School in New York, Northern New Jersey or Palm Desert, Ca. You can meet the instructor and talk to current students to find out how they like the bartending school.
When I was bartending in a local New Jersey bar one summer, I told a joke to a group of customers. The 2 customers I told the joke to laughed. A patron at the other end of the bar who had herd the bar told me that they were insulted by the joke and would never come back. My boss was upset because this customer had been coming to the bar for several years.
Here are examples of jokes that won’t get any customers upset at a bartender telling a joke.
What’s the difference between a dog and a fox? About 3 martinis.
A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says:, Sorry, but we don’t serve minors.
A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, Why the long face?
A businessman walks into a bar and orders a Martini. After he finishes the drink, he peeks inside his shirt pocket then he orders another Martini. After he finishes that one, he again peeks inside his shirt pocket and orders another Martini. The bartender finally asks the man why he keeps looking inside his shirt before ordering a Martini. The man says, I’m peeking at a photo of my wife. When she starts to look good, then I know it’s time to go home.
This is an example of a joke that is disparaging
An American walks into a pub in Ireland and clears his voice to the crowd of drinkers and says, I hear you Irish are a bunch of hard drinkers and I’ll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back. The room is quiet and no one takes up the American’s offer. One man even leaves. Thirty minutes later the same gentleman who left shows back up and taps the American on the shoulder and asks if his bet still good. The American says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Irishman tears into all 10 of the pint glasses drinking them all back-to-back. The other pub patrons cheer as the American sits in amazement. The American gives the Irishman the $500 and says, If you don’t mind me asking’, where did you go for that 15 minutes you were gone? The Irishman replies, Oh, I had to go to the pub down the street to see if I could do it first.
This is why in our customer service class at American Bartending School we always tell our students to be careful with jokes.
It takes more than knowledge of mixology to be a successful bartender. Good customer service is a must because the majority of a bartender’s income will come from tips. Here are simple customer service rules that good bartenders practice
Always Have a Good Attitude
When a bartender starts his shift and steps behind his bar, it’s like an actor going on stage to perform. It’s show time. No matter what is bothering you or what problems you may have; forget them while you’re serving customers. You need to keep a good attitude. Smiling and greeting customers with a friendly hello and thanking them when they leave make a positive impression.
Be a Mixologist
There are thousands of drink recipes, but there are less than 100 that customers frequently order. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than a bartender not knowing how to properly prepare popular cocktails. Drinking patterns change and its imperative that bartenders learn new drink recipes to keep pace with customer preferences.
Bartenders have to keep their eyes open and be prepared to act. Keep your garnish trays filled. Make sure you’re not running low on ice and mixes. Watch to see if any customers need another drink or to pay their bill. When a customer’s drink is getting low, ask if they want another. Don’t wait for customers to call you when they need your attention.
Don’t be hesitant to make suggestions. A good bartender knows how and when to make one. If a customer scans the cocktail menu for more than a minute, ask them if they would like one the house specialty cocktails. If a customer sits down and look indecisive, make a suggestion.
Don’t Play Favorites
Treat all customers the same. Don’t give preferential treatment to your friends or regulars. Show the same amount of care and attention to everyone. Don’t get into a deep conversation with one customer and forget to scan the rest of the bar. Stay alert for drinks that need to be filled, napkins that need to be replaced and tabs that need to be cashed in. You’re there to make money for the house by selling drinks and keeping all your customers happy.
Always Check Ids
You must be 21 years of age in every state to buy and consume alcoholic spirits. It is your responsibility as the bartender to make sure everyone drinking in your bar is of legal age. It’s a good policy to ask for identification from anyone who looks under 30. Consequences for serving a minor are severe, can cost the business money, forfeiture of the liquor license and probably your job. You have the right to refuse service to anyone who won’t show you proper identification.
Keep a Tidy Bar
A dirty bar is a turnoff. Wipe down the bar top anytime you see water or spills. Replace cocktail napkins with each new drink served. Dispose of empty glasses, straw wrappers, napkins and other garbage as soon as you see it. Keep the bar back straightened by putting bottles back where you got them right away. Wipe down all of your bottles in your speed rack and back bar at the end of every shift.
Bartending is a profession and, you need to conduct yourself accordingly. It can be a fun, interesting and very well paying job. Always maintain a professional attitude and appearance. Customers and come back again when they have an enjoyable experience. Keeping the conversations friendly when you have time, wearing clean clothes and keeping your bar spotlessly clean are things to remember. Maintaining a professional attitude is essential to being characteristics that your boss and customers will always appreciate.
Don’t Focus on Tips
Bartenders make a substantial part of their income from tips. Give good, friendly service to tippers as well as non-tippers. Many steady customers tip little or nothing at all. It’s important to give them the same courtesy and prompt service that you give to tippers.
Don’t give away free drinks or over pour, in the hope that customers will give you a better tip. This is a sure way to quickly lose your job. A bartender’s primary job is to make money for the house by selling drinks and not filling the tip jar. If you have a bad attitude toward non-tippers, you’ll lose customers. Tips should be a reward for good service and shouldn’t be automatic.
Joe Bruno, Director of American Bartenders School says that good customer service is one of the most imporant things that bar owners look for when hiring a bartender.
Best Hangover Advice
One of the the most important things for a good bartender to know is how to cure a hangover. Here at American Bartenders School this is an important part of our customer service training.
Everyone has their favorite cure for the hangover and most of them have little or no validity. A hangover is the body’s reaction to being poisoned with too much alcohol. Drinking rocks the central nervous system. It leads to headache, dizziness, and nausea and dehydrates you. The results include headache, fatigue, cotton mouth, queasy stomach
Your body composition is directly related to how much you can drink. The more body weight you have the more you can drink without getting a hangover. For you light weights, just a couple of drinks can trigger a headache and other hangover symptoms. It’s a good idea to drink water between drinks to keep hydrated and to lessen the amount of alcohol you consume. Some research suggests that drinking fruit juices or other sugar-containing liquids can decrease hangover intensity. This may or may not be true depending on what you’re adding to it.
It doesn’t matter what type of alcoholic beverage you drink or the order you drink it in. Drink enough and you’re sure to feel the effects the morning after. The reason being is that your liver can only process so much alcohol during a given period of time.
One thing that can help is the type of food you eat before you start partying. Any food can slow the body’s absorption of alcohol, fat does it best. Pizza, chicken wings, or any other type of fatty bar food will help you avoid a hangover.
Don’t take aspirins or any type of acetaminophen before you go night night. Take the pills when you first wake up. Alcohol disrupts how the liver processes acetaminophen, possibly leading to liver inflammation and permanent damage.
Avoid the hair of the dog the morning after a heavy bout of partying. More alcohol in the morning does nothing but postpone a hangover. The worst symptoms hit when blood-alcohol levels drop to zero. If you have a Bloody Mary at breakfast, it will only delay you feeling like crap later in the day.
Stay away from that hot cup of coffee when you wake up. It will hurt you more than help. Drink water of sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes. This is especially important if you puked the night before. Don’t waste your money on herbal cures or other over the counter remedies. The only thing that is going to take away the terrible hangover feeling is time.
Understand that alcohol can potentially be a killer. Alcohol poisoning is a potentially deadly medical emergency. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Confusion, stupor
- Slow, irregular breathing
- Low body temperature, bluish skin
If you or someone that you’re with shows these symptoms, play it safe and head for the nearest emergency room.
It’s the holiday season and we bartenders have to work extra hard to keep Santa happy. The instructor at American Bartenders School have come with these special shooter cocktail drink shot recipes. These are some great shots that are easy and fun to make and guaranteed to put a smile on Santa’s face.
Get out your bartending tools and make one of these cool drinks for Santa to enjoy. I’m sure he’ll thank you.
CANDY CANE SHOOTER
- 1/2 oz Crème de Menthe
- 1/2 oz Grenadine
- 1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
Layer the grenadine syrup, crème de menthe and then peppermint schnapps. A nicely layered shooter that will test the bartender’s skills.
- 1 oz. Melon liqueur
- 1 oz. Chambord
This is a layered shot, for best effect use a tall thin liquer glass. Pour half shot Chambord first, then slowly pour half shot Midori over the back of a spoon into glass. If done correctly, you should have a layered red and green shot perfect for celebration, if not-a muddy
- 1 oz. Eggnog
- 1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
- ½ oz. Creme de Menthe
- ½ oz. Grenadine
- ½ 3 oz. Irish Cream
- 1 oz. Kahlua
- 1 oz. Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
Layer. Fill a shot glass halfway with Kahlua and top off with Chambord.
- 1 oz. Coconut Rum
- 1 oz. Pineapple Juice
- 1 oz. Cranberry Juice
Santa is coming and all you bartenders want to have a nice cocktail ready for him when he comes to visit you. These are some fun and easy to prepare cocktails for you to show off your bartending skills.
- 1 oz. Tequila
- ½ oz. Kahlua
- 4 oz. hot chocolate
- Serve in mug
Down South Christmas
- 1 oz. Southern Comfort
- ½ oz. Creme de cacao
- 4 oz. eggnog
8th Day of Christmas
- ½ oz. Kahlua
- ½ oz. Peppermint Schnapps
- ½ oz. Baileys Irish Cream
- ½ oz. Crème de Menthe
- ½ oz. Grenadine
- ½ oz. Peppermint Schnapps
- 1 oz. triple sec
- 2 oz. chilled champagne
- 2 oz. cranberry juice
- Shake and strain
- ½ oz. White Creme de Cacao
- ½ oz. Vodka
- ½ oz. Peppermint Schnapps
- 2 oz. cream
- Shake and strain
The Silent Night
- ½ oz. Tequila
- ½ oz. Blue Curacao
- ½ oz. Triple Sec
- 1 oz. Pineapple juice
- 1 oz. Sour Mix
- Shake and strain
The Candy Cane Martini
- 1 ½ oz. vanilla vodka
- ½ oz. Peppermint schnapps
- 1 oz. of club soda
- 1/2 oz. Midori
- 1/2 oz. green creme de menthe
- 1/2 oz. White Creme de Cacao
- 2 oz. cream
- Shake and strain
- mint leaves for garnish
Blue Snow Flake
- 1 oz. Hipnotiq
- ½ oz. Vodka
- 2 oz. Pineapple Juice
- Shake and strain
Great Holiday Cocktail Punch Recipes
We have searched our bartending recipe books and surfed the internet to come up with some great punch recipes to share with you. Put your bartender skills to work and treat your guest to some terrific taste treats. All of the
cocktail punch recipes are easy to make.
The holidays are coming and that means getting together with family and friends and enjoying a little holiday cheer. What better way to greet your guests than with a cup of punch. A great advantage of having a punch bowl for you next party or dinner is that you can prepare it in advance.
This warm party punch from Manhattan bartender Jane Danger packs some added heat with a spicy jalapeño and rum honey. But chile-phobes shouldn’t fear: the heat of the spiced honey is not at all overwhelming; “in fact it’s very light and warming,” Danger notes.
- 6 oz. rum
- 12 oz. apple cider
- 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz. jalapeno-rum honey
- Garnish: freshly grated cinnamon and a lemon wedge
On a stove top, heat all ingredients together until steaming. Ladle into mugs and garnish.
To make the jalapeno-rum honey: Combine 1 1/2 cups of honey with one sliced and smashed jalapeño (seeds intact) and two ounces of rum. Stir and let sit overnight at room temperature. Remove the jalapeño chunks before using. Store in a dark, cool place for up to one month. Makes approximately 6 servings.
Wassail is a staple throughout the cold-weather season in many parts of the upper Midwest. Every winter as the holidays approach, many people take part in the age-old “wassailing of apple trees,” a ritual dating back to the fifteenth century that involves sprinkling wassail on apple trees to ensure a strong, healthy harvest and to keep the trees safe from evil spirits. Wassail always blends apples and winter holiday spices, but the sweeteners and spirits often change from recipe to recipe.
- 12 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole white peppercorns
- 1 gallon fresh apple cider
- 6 oz. cranberry juice
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 oz. bourbon per drink
- Garnish: ground nutmeg and 1 cinnamon stick per drink
To make the wassail: Wrap the cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. In a large pot, heat the cider, cranberry juice, brown sugar, and spice bag. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
To make the drink: Add 1 oz. of bourbon or brandy to a mug and fill with hot Wassail. Garnish with a dusting of the nutmeg and the cinnamon stick.
Serves 10 to 12.
Spicy Mulled Cider
When the weather turns cold, mulled cider is a tasty warm beverage that’s guaranteed to warm you. It’s a great drink to share with friends on a cold winter nights.
- 3 cups fresh apple cider
- 4 whole star anise pods
- 1/2 tsp. whole allspice berries
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- 1 5-inch Ceylon cinnamon stick
- 4 white cardamom pods, cracked
- 2 orange wheels, quartered
- 2 lemon wheels, quartered
- Tools: saucepan, wooden spoon, ladle
- Glass: mug
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Lower the heat and continue to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Ladle into 4 mugs and serve steaming hot.
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, with juice
- 1 fluid ounce triple sec liqueur
- 1 (750 milliliter) bottle light rum
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds
- 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
- 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks
- 1 liter carbonated water
1. In a punch bowl, combine sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add cherries, triple sec, light rum, orange slices, lemon slices, and pineapple chunks. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.
2. Pour in carbonated water, and add ice just before serving.
Non Alcoholic Punch
Fruit punch is traditionally made in Africa with lemon, orange, pineapple, and guava juice. While you may wish to find a can of each juice, I find the frozen guava/raspberry concentrated juice to be the best choice for any occasion in America. Decorate and keep the punch cold by floating frozen orange slices, stemmed cherries, frozen pineapple slices and a frozen molded cranberry juice ring in the middle of the punch. Make half the punch at a time if the punch bowl you are using is small. This is the best cold punch for a summer wedding.
- 4 (12-ounce) cans frozen guava/raspberry juice concentrate
- 6 cups ice cold water
- 2 (33.8-fluid ounce) bottles Schweppes® ginger ale
- 2 Martinelli’s Gold Medal® Sparkling Apple-Grape juice
- 1 (48-ounce) bottle Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail
- frozen in a ring mold
- 4 orange slices, cut in half and frozen
- 4 stemmed cherries
- 4 pineapple slices, frozen
- 1 (48-ounce) bottle Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice, as needed
- Pour the frozen juice concentrate into a large punch bowl.
- Stir in the water. Add the ginger ale and sparkling juice.
- Carefully lower the frozen cranberry ring into the punch.
- Float the orange slices, cherries and pineapple in the punch.
- Add the extra cranberry juice as the punch gets depleted.
Fills 1 large punch bowl to serve 12-20