American Bartender’s School Director Joe Bruno was asked to weigh in for this informative article on how to properly stock a home bar at Porch.com
What’s in your home bar?
American Bartender’s School Director Joe Bruno was asked to weigh in for this informative article on how to properly stock a home bar at Porch.com
What’s in your home bar?
“It’s been an exception journey, and an honor to be part of this ever-evolving business over the last 20+ years,” says Joe Bruno, longtime School Director of American Bartenders School, which started in 1969 is celebrating 50 years in business in 2019!
Well-wishes and congratulations messages have been pouring in for the past few months from many longtime bar and hospitality colleagues. The most notable was from Jon Taffer, host of Paramount Networks famed TV show, Bar Rescue. Jon’s message came in the form of a personal video, directly from him which you can see below:
People sometimes get to the point where more alcohol just isn’t going to do them any good. They wobble; they lose fine motor control; their speech is slurred. It may be a question of driving; it may be a question of retaining the ability to stand up; it may be that they become belligerent and or violent when they pass a certain threshold.
In most jurisdictions you’re responsible to cut off people that are “obviously trashed”. In many locales you can be held liable for harm to a third party by someone you have over-served. Some may be good at hiding it, so remember how many drinks you have served them. If they enter the bar drunk because they got kicked out of somewhere else, it’s up to you not to serve them either.
At some point in your career you are going to have to decide when someone has had too much and tell them that they cannot have any more. None of use likes to do it; it is uncomfortable and can really sour someone’s mood. Here are some ideas.
It actually happens a lot less often than you might think, but it will happen eventually. Be prepared. If you cut someone off and see their friends are getting them drinks, their friends must be cut off, too. You must inform the other bartenders as well so that they don’t get alcohol from someone else. If you have security, alert them before you cut someone off in case there are repercussions. Unless they walk in drunk, cut them off after you have served them a round.
We have excellent training available! We’ll be more than happy to teach you how to “Do it Right!”
You probably have a regular gig with a local dive (small neighborhood bar) that pays the rent. It’s nice to have a home port that you can rely on.
As an adjunct to that, there are other opportunities that don’t involve regularly working for a paycheck from someone else. You could provide an outdoor bar at a wedding, staff the bar near the dance floor at the same affair, or some other event, such as product demonstrations for a commercial producer. It might be irregular or it could grow to become your main source of income if you’re a hit with your customers.
If you want to bartend privately on an individual scale, use social media, cheap local advertising outlets, neighborhood bulletin boards & circulars to create constant micro-impressions with your potential customers so that when they need a bartender, they automatically think of you. If you have a gig as a bartender, keep some business cards so you can hand them out if someone asks. Will the owner let you put a card holder on the bar with some of your cards in it advertising your business? Don’t include your phone number – use e-mail.
A commercial bartender gets her income from a base wage (sometimes ridiculously low) plus tips. Those with the great, fun personalities generally make more than the sullen ones that are just doin’ their job.
A private bartender generally makes a much better wage per hour, in the $15-25 range, sometimes with a built-in tip, plus any casual tips from guests. Sometimes the event sponsors will tip in addition to the agreed upon rate, and some even write in a 30% bonus if they don’t allow you to have a tip jar. Best of all, this is often an entirely cash-based business.
It’s generally a slower pace too, with more opportunity to talk to people, and the work is usually guaranteed for a five hour minimum. It can run to 7 hours or more. Bear in mind that you’ll usually have to set up the bar from scratch, and break it all down at the end.
If you’re providing the liquor, buy extra and arrange to return unopened bottles where you buy them – they’ll accommodate you if they know you’re a bartender and will bring them more business. You may not be supplying the liquor, but you still have responsibilities, so make sure it’s spelled out in your contract. Is it your job to supply glassware/plastic cups, straws, napkins, sip sticks and ice (one pound per guest)? In any event, supply your own fruits/garnishes (prepared lemons, limes, oranges, celery, cherries) or else they’ll be cut too thick or thin and be awkward or useless.
Naturally you’ll bring your bartending kit. Don’t forget your Tip Jar! It may be up to you to advise your employers on mixers, juices and amounts, or supply them for a fee, but bring your own simple syrup so you can rim glasses when lime juice is a non-complimentary flavor.
And you’ll have to have a basic/elegant wardrobe all in black, with the possible exception of a white dress shirt. Otherwise it’s black dress shirt, casual shirt, dress pants, and jacket for chilly affairs, with black tie, waist apron, bistro apron, black socks and (this is the important one) black non-slip shoes.
So you can be commercial, with a reasonably stable income, or you can be an adventurer and try to make your own way – maybe a combination of both with a regular gig and side work? What will you do?
If you want to learn more on how to be a bartender, connect with us today and we’ll see that you’re equipped with the knowledge for the journey into your own future.
Shaken or Stirred? There are a few differences between shaking and stirring Martini’s. A stirred martini will achieve a temperature of about 40° F. That’s a pleasant temperature at which to drink a martini. The shaken martini however reaches a frosty 29° F, below the freezing point of water.
Second, the bartender will not give you extra liquor to make sure the glass is full. The melting ice from being shaken provides extra volume so you can enjoy your martini just a little longer. Consequently stirring renders a 60 proof drink whereas shaking provides 45 proof. Same amount of alcohol, but it lasts longer.
Third, shaking is healthier, as shown in this scientific study. It demonstrably shows that the antioxidant levels are significantly improved. There seems to be a strong relationship between lowered risk of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and strokes with the alcohol’s increased antioxidant activity.
Finally there a belief among some bartenders that shaking can “bruise” gin. This implies damage, but what is really happening is the increased formation of aldehydes making the flavor sharper (making those antioxidants for you) which compensates for the dilution of shaking.
Want to learn more Fun Facts about Bartending? Want to start a fun and rewarding career as a bartender? Do you want to accomplish that without paying hundred$ or thou$and$ for a bartending school course? Check out our online bartending school!
Jim Meehan of the New York bar PDT: “A mixologist serves drinks, a bartender serves people–many of my favorite bartenders can’t make a good drink, while some of the best mixologists in America can’t carry on a conversation.”
Is it really that simple? No…
But it is not a bad place to start.
In the 1960s, Jackie Gleason, played a Joe the Bartender every week in a TV-sketch, as an excuse to have a funny exchange with an odd customer. Jackie would listen to an increasing bizarre tale until they got to the punchline then customer Frank Fontaine, (aka Crazy Guggenheim) would suddenly transform into a perfect Tenor, belt out a beautiful song, then revert to being odd again and walk out of the bar.
It may have been a completely contrived situation however it was a big hit with the audience, and it pretty clearly showed the relationship between a bartender and a customer.
Bartenders interact with their customers. Yes, they prepare and serve drinks, but their real function is acting like a host. They make people feel welcome in an otherwise strange environment. Sometimes they simply listen; sometimes they commiserate; sometimes they advise.
At other times they talk, chat, tell jokes, or do a little close up magic. Most good bartenders are really closet entertainers. In just about every important and definable way they are a host. They make their customers feel comfortable; they make sure the customers are having a good time; that make sure they’re not getting too drunk or dangerous to themselves.
Historically the mixologist would receive the barrels of liquor which were generally uncomfortably high in alcoholic content. It was their job to dilute the whiskey, rum, or whatever with water to bring it down to a drinkable level. They would often be responsible for blending whiskeys to make something customized, or distinctive, for the particular bar.
In the case of whiskeys in particular, they were sometimes shipped with specific water drawn from the source of the original water used to create the whiskey. This is known as Branch Water. It’s generally iron-free and will not affect the taste of the whiskey when it is diluted.
As liquors & liqueurs became more regional and distinctive patrons developed a sensibility about flavors, tastes, and combinations; they began to consider what flavors would go well together.
Wine gave way to sherry, port, and brandy; straight whisky became whiskey and branch, and then whiskey and soda, and then whiskey and sarsaparilla. Pretty soon rum and sarsaparilla was common.
It was only a matter of time before people started getting really creative.
At that point the mixologist became sort of a specialist. More sophisticated drinks required more sophisticated preparations. Nowadays we make Gomme Syrup, prepare particular infusions, and create custom cocktail blends. Almost all of our work as Mixologists is done before the customer arrives.
Why, you could be both kinds, and you should be, too. Until a customer arrives you can be doing prep work; it can be an hour or two before you meet your first customer; it can be an hour or more after you see your last customer. You can be busy making syrups, tinctures, bitters, infusions, and blends. At that point you’re a mixologist.
As soon as a customer comes through the door and walks up to the bar, you are now a bartender. That’s how it should be. I’ll make you a dirty martini; I’ll stick a fancy little umbrella in your Mai Tai; I’ll pour your scotch neat, on-the-rocks. But no matter what I’m doing, fancy or plain, I’m still a bartender.
It said that a Mixologist will make you a drink that you’ll remember all night, but a Bartender will create an experience that you’ll remember forever.
Do you want to be that guy or gal? We’re more than happy to show you how to become a bartender.
Learning the skills you need has never been easier or more economical than attending our Online Bartending School. We’ll show you how to be a bartender and it won’t cost hundreds of dollars. Plus the video lesson support is always available for you anytime, 24 hours a day, if you need a quick refresher.
Kölsch? Pilsner? Wheat? Stout? Porters? California Common? Are they different from Ales and Lagers?
What you have to “beer” in mind here is that beer falls into just two fundamental categories. There are variations within the categories, but despite all claims to the contrary beers are either ale or lager.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Something-or-other that I like is a completely separate classification. I choose to drink Something-or-other because it’s unusual and makes me feel better than you!”
Well, you can feel any way you like. But when it comes right down to it, there is only ale or lager.
There is evidence that ales were brewed back in Egyptian times and earlier. Beer in this form has been around since pre-history probably. The reason for ale’s style and persistence is probably because of a lack of refrigeration.
There is evidence that lagers came into existence in the late 15th or early 16th century (1680s-1720s) in Bavarian breweries, but may have accidentally arisen earlier through geography (Nordic regions) or by the storage of ales in ice caves to preserve their integrity, but whichever is the case, it is certainly the youngster of the beer family.
Beers were brewed at room temperature or slightly cooler (at “cellar temperature”), so yeasts evolved and adapted so that they could survive at that temperature. Obviously they’re not going to evolve to survive in colder or warmer temperatures that don’t exist. That’s contrary to the survival mechanism. Just ask Charles Darwin.
Sometimes the differences are so subtle that the two categories overlap, so the easiest way, at the brewing level, to distinguish one from the other is to rely on mycology. Here we distinguish between the two types of yeast used for the two different types of beer.
Lagers are powered by the yeast named Saccharomyces pastorianus, often shortened to S. pastorianus. Ales, on the other hand, rely on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or S. cerevisiae for short.
S. cerevisiae functions best at 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 12 to 21 degrees Celsius. Also notable is that when you toss it in the wort (the sweet liquid obtained from the soaked mixture of warm water and ground malt, used to make a malt liquor), it has a tendency to float and work it’s magic from the top down.
S. pastorianus on the other hand, sinks to the bottom working its magic in the opposite direction. But it also works in a much cooler temperature range, from 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3 to 10 degrees Celsius.
For producing sheer volume, you’d probably like to go with ale, which, due to the higher temperature and increased metabolism of the yeast, can finish a batch in 7 days. Lager, proceeds much more slowly, taking weeks or months to finish a batch.
Those preferring ales will tell you those rich, robust, malty flavors that are full of fruity esters, with a bitter finish, have a complex taste and heady, powerful aromas. This, they say, is precisely why they like ales.
Lager aficionados will point out that the long slow brewing of lagers make for a beer with high clarity, lots of carbonation, and a much more mellow flavor, with a smoother finish, and without all those nasty fruity-flavors, resulting in a beer with nuanced subtlety, balanced taste, a clean finish and pleasant aroma.
For those that cannot make a decision, here’s a nice middle ground for you to consider: California Common Beer (occasionally called Steam Beer).
During the Gold Rush brewers wished to produce a lot of beer for the miners, but wanted to make the popular lager style beer. Unfortunately they didn’t have the facilities for brewing at cold lager temperatures, so they used lager yeast, but brewed it at ale temperatures. They didn’t use kettles for brewing this hybrid, but rather made long shallow vessels (called calrifieres), followed by a “light-boil” to kill bacteria. It was then heavily “hopped” to prevent spoilage.
Ultimately it is up to the individual to make their own choice. One is neither better nor worse than the other. It’s all a matter of taste.
Want to learn more about being a bartender? Check out our very own Online Bartending School!
Choosing a bartending school? Bar owners and managers look for the advantage of having certified bartenders behind their bars. The real world training at American Bartenders School helps you to gain the confidence and skills necessary to handle a bar effectively. Bar managers are not interested in just hiring ‘servers’ to pour drinks. They lean toward hiring ‘earners’ – individuals who have a great personality, full command of the necessary skills and common sense to run their bar. It’s a lot less work to hire a ‘cookie cutter’ bartender and just train them the nuances of your business than to start from scratch and have to teach them everything. We screen all of our applicants to ensure they have the capability to complete our program and connect with a job. That’s why we’ve been in business for almost fifty years. Credibility and longevity speak volumes. Did you know that 13 bartending schools opened and closed in New York City over the past twenty years? Some operated illegally, some were dishonest and some didn’t know what they were doing. Beware of programs that don’t offer personalized assistance and attention to detail. Also, steer clear of illegal programs that offer a “license to bartend”. There is no such thing! Certification is the highest level of training and that’s exactly what we offer.
Anyone 18 years of age (or 17 with parental permission) can legally bartend in New York. Although the drinking age is 21, the serving age is 18. While some young people choose to obtain part-time low wage jobs, bartending allows an individual to earn much more. Working just a few hours a day should net you a decent income, no matter what your age is. Your personality and your attitude add to the earning potential! People tip you because they like you, not necessarily because you handed them the best Gin & Tonic they ever had!
Who you are makes a difference in your capability to get a job. Some people may talk negatively about trade schools based on hearsay or having had a bad, personal experience. Remember, they are not YOU! We work hard to motivate you and help you to gain the self confidence that’s so important on job interviews.
Bartending is not for everyone! That’s why we recommend taking a tour of our school during an open house (which will allow you to sit in on our lectures and lab sessions). This will be of great benefit. Whether you’re recently retired and looking for a part-time job at a restaurant or you want to work weekends at a nightclub while attending college, there’s a job out there for you. We would never discriminate based on your age.
Good economy? Bad economy? It doesn’t matter.
People will always go out to drink and party. Although the mainstream job market may be stagnant, there’s no downtime with bartending. And no matter where you go in the world – there’s a bar, a nightclub, a restaurant, a catering service, a cruise ship, a lounge or a hotel that needs bartenders. Once you tuck this skill under your arm, it’s forever.
Already have a career? Great!
But what if there’s a problem that arises? What’s your backup plan for an unforeseen downsize or layoff? Prepare yourself with a skill that you can always use! We offer lifetime refresher classes and lifetime job placement to our grads.
If life hands you lemons – make cocktails.
“Paying dues” behind an operational bar is time consuming and won’t necessarily teach you what you need to know. Trailing a bartender as an assistant or working only during slower shifts can’t provide the education necessary to go from A to Z very quickly either. Bartending is not difficult to learn, but it could take time to develop the acumen necessary to be good at it.
Why would any bar owner want you making mistakes on their time and money? Why would they want you pouring liquor down the drain? They don’t! We take pride in creating a very realistic atmosphere (complete with DJ lighting and sound system) where you use special colored dyes to simulate the look and consistency of actual cocktails. Make a mistake? No problem! Dump it out and start again! This is the proven way to learn correctly. We give you descriptive detail (providing you with flavors and important facts about liquors/liqueurs) as we go along. To add to the learning experience, we do hold some product sample tasting of liquor, wine and beer for those 21 or over. Did you know that American Bartenders School gives you not one…but three course manuals? Not to mention full access to our on staff sommelier and cicerone (wine and beer experts).
American Bartenders School, as a pioneer business, put bartender training on the map. We have trained over 100,000 graduates in the half century we have been in business. We have the largest training facility and the most qualified instructors. We are owner operated. Not a franchise business riding the coattails credibility. The biggest benefit to attending our school before others is our notoriety and connection to bar owners and managers. If you needed to hire an employee, would you look to get that person from a little known school or would you rather hire a Harvard or Yale grad? Either way, the cost to hire is zero. The answer is clear!
American Bartenders School is the best choice for bartender education in New York City.
Want more info about what we offer? Call 1-212-594-8560.
Or stop by for a free tour of our facility with no obligation.
252 West 29th Street 5th Floor New York, NY 10001
Ready to sign up? Click here: http://www.barschool.com/enroll-immediately/
The title was originally a reference to an old Platonic philosophy about chained prisoners in a cave that can only judge the world around them by shadows they see on the wall–and bartending can certainly seem surreal sometimes, but that isn’t what was meant.
My intent was to reference a very popular video game called FALLOUT: New Vegas. One of the factions (the Paladins) uses that expression to describe how any junior officer must obey a superior officer’s orders.
So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today–who are the leaders, who are the followers, and why we need these demarcations.
That’s right, the one that owns the joint get to make all the decisions, particularly the ones that relate to keeping the business IN business. It’s his or her prerogative to decide any and all issues, especially those arising between employees. S/he is paying the salaries; s/he is paying the wages; s/he pays for the insurance, licenses, inspections, food, liquor, and the bowl of “free” mints by the cash register.
By dint of all the cash outlay and risk on their part owners get final say in anything they care to comment upon. If they decide that the only two things that will be served are pretzels and beer, that is their privilege (except in North Dakota which prohibits serving beer and pretzels simultaneously in any bar or restaurant).
The practical reality is different however. Depending on the size of the establishment the owner might not even attend on a regular basis. In that case s/he’ll have a general manager to run the show. Except when the boss is there, the general manager’s word is law.
This is the person who’s going to make most of the day to day decisions. S/he’ll likely work out the shifts for the employees and designate tasks for employees to accomplish. It would be up to the GM to book the live acts (if any); to order supplies for the kitchen, as well as beer and liquor for the bar, and coordinate the deliveries. They’re generally responsible for the sensitive job of hiring and firing.
Unless the establishment is only open for eight hours per day the general manager is going to need an assistant. If the establishment is particularly large or complex there may be several assistant managers. Each one could be assigned to a particular area, with specific duties, and managing a certain portion of the staff.
In smaller establishments they might not even have an assistant manager. In that case the responsibility might devolve to the…
That’s right! If the owner or a manager isn’t present, it might be up to you as bartender to make decisions that could affect the whole business. It’s probably not going to happen very often, but it is possible.
Mostly your responsibilities will revolve around your regular duties such as tending bar, preparing your garnishes, and keeping your customers happy. It is also your responsibility to keep track of your inventory so the manager will know when it’s time to reorder. If your garnishes form part of the regular kitchen order, it’s up to you to make sure the items you need are on the list. If you’re particularly good at your job and stay apprised of what happening around town, you can even make suggestions about liquor purchases to make new drinks which are becoming popular.
The bar-back will never be in charge unless you’re lying unconscious on the floor. And if you think that might happen make sure you’re on friendly terms with the bar-back!
These fine folks are the next one’s down. They put up with a lot of nonsense, so be nice to them.
These people have to clean up everybody else’s mess. And the tips are nonexistent.
Somebody has to be on the bottom rung of the ladder, and here they are. They read seating charts, take people to their seats, and recite the daily specials.
If you want to get into the business you’ll often start as a busser, working your way up to server. If you want the bartending gig, and express an interest, you may start off as bar-back, particularly if you have some training. That means you keep the beer full, prepare the garnishes, replace empty bottles of liquor for the bartender, and sometimes make drinks for the servers in the restaurants section, if it’s distinct from the bar area.
Is it possible to skip the busser, server and bar-back and go straight into bartending? Yes! I was able to do it and so can you!
Lots of us have this fantasy of opening a bar somewhere. I mean how much is there to it really?
All you have to do is buy a bunch of liquor (probably in bulk and save money, right?), get in a good selection of beer, get a couple of big screen TVs, and keep a couple of bottles of champagne in case the local sports team does something noteworthy, or some misguided honeymooners come into your dive. You’re all set, right?
For the rest of the time you’re “Sam Malone” and everybody knows your name. What could be better than that?
“Well, Sammy,” says a familiar voice, “let me tell you about that…”
Welcome to the Mole-men Corps! As the owner of a bar, most of your time is going to be spent underground. Yep, you’ll be down in the basement, wrestling beer kegs into position, hooking things up, purging lines, washing containers, making sure the carbon dioxide is sufficient for your beer engines & soda fountains, and then checking & changing syrup canisters so that your mixers continued to flow reliably.
The rest of the time you’ll spend unplugging toilets, slaving over a computer covered in spreadsheets in the backroom, doing payroll, creating liquor-order sheets, doing all of the accounting, filling in the books, making bank deposits, picking up booze, returning empties, and buying new glasses to replace all the broken ones.
And if you didn’t get good advice to start you’ll probably be replacing all those loose tables and chairs with things that are firmly bolted to the floor and nailed to the wall. At least you will after your first lawsuit because some drunk leaned on the corner of the table that toppled over under his weight.
The Ideal Candidate
Who should be a bar-owner? The very best candidate would probably be a certified refrigeration mechanic, a plumber, a carpenter, an all-round handyman, and a legal advocate. But most importantly, they should be someone that has worked in a bar before.
You’re going to spend a lot of time fixing stuff (or a lot of money getting some else to fix it for you)! And you’re going to need your wits about you to fight your way through the bureaucratic cesspool that is intent on stopping you from fulfilling your dream, just to obtain a liquor license in the first place.
The municipality will probably consult with everybody within 1 mile radius of your proposed location to see if they want to permit a bar or tavern. If enough people don’t like the idea, you’re either going to have to spend a lot of time convincing them, or find a new location.
What’s the Plan?
The best possible way to proceed is to buy Somebody Else’s Bar. The liquor license is already in place, and transferring it should be a breeze compared to getting approval for brand new liquor license.
The problem is, much like a franchise purchase, you might have to spend as much as ¼ million dollars to buy such an outfit, no matter how small. Bars and taverns have intrinsic value in terms of their clientele, neighborhood goodwill, and earning potential.
But if you completely lack experience in the trade and are going to rely on someone that you trust to run the bar for you, just so you can have the pride of ownership, then you face a lot fewer problems.
Getting Owned (by the staff)
Nothing can put you out of business faster than a disloyal employee. Liquor disappearing at the back door; “spillage”; bartenders pouring very generous shots to get bigger tips; staff giving away free drinks to friends; staff cooking and eating food without at least paying the discount price; and all the way down to swiping a few rolls of toilet paper to take home.
Pay your staff well; treat your staff well; but then still make a point of checking to be sure you’re not being victimized. Buy a thoughtful gift for a holiday or birthday; have an annual excursion for the entire staff to local water park. Make your bar a remarkable and fun place to work, and your staff will see it that way, too.
Do your research
Hit some Trade Shows in your area if they’re available. You’ll learn an awful lot there, and representatives are willing to tell you just about anything you need to know in hopes of selling you their equipment.
Read up in a few industry magazines (Bar & Beverage, Bar Business, Nightclub & Bar, Bar Magazine, Pub & Bar, etc.) to gather some insight on the industry. They can give you some great ideas for the design of your bar and clever ways to ensure “flow”, but they can also keep you apprised of new technologies, from a clever little flow meter for your bottles, to a brand new beer engine that saves you hours of maintenance.
Reconnoiter successful bars in the area and see how they’re being successful. Is it because the offer Theme Nights, Giveaways, Happy Hours, or Loyalty Rewards? Do they draw in the patrons with just pure ambience? Do they rely on a single product, like the craft brewer selling only their own productions and beer from local artisans? Maybe it is a wine bar but with limited success because they flatly refuse to carry any starter liquors like vodka, gin, rum, and beer is completely out of the question in their mind.
So, Who Wants to Own a Bar?
You do! Of course facing the reality of all the real work involved in running a business is difficult. It’s better to know before you start that is not going to be easy. You probably won’t earn a dime of profit in the first year, but after you get over that hump, establish yourself and have regular clientele, you will have time to relax at the bar, and finally slow down enough, once you are organized, to release your confident inner “Sam Malone”… You and your clients will be “as one” yelling “Close the Door!” on chilly evenings.