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How To Be a Good Bartender

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

Bartender Pouring a Drink
Bartender School Student

every day.

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.

Stay Alert

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.

Make Suggestions

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.

Be Professional

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.


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