Like it or not, bartending is not something you can do without any training. No one is ever going to hire you right off the street if you haven’t been to a bartender school. There are no shortcuts or handbooks that are going to make you a master bartender overnight. Bartender school is an important piece of the puzzle if you are serious about getting a job as a bartender in New York City and beyond.
Bartender school teaches important techniques, laws, history, and other important skills that you never even knew were important. At American Bartender School, we are extremely lucky to have instructors who are actual bartenders in the industry right now. Students benefit from the knowledge and experience of our industry professionals. Take a look at this infographic that shows the benefits of going to a bartender school and bartending in NYC broken down by the numbers.
Here are the 15 reasons why you bartender school is insanely important before you can get a job as bartender.
1. Interact with Customers
Learning to interact with a customer at a bar is a skill. Striking up the right conversation could mean gaining a customer for life. As a bartender, we have to walk the line between friend and businessman. You are a salesman but also a drinking buddy. Bartender school helps you gracefully merge the two ideas so that you can make friends while also doing your job. This will put money in your pocket but still keep you feeling like a human being. Our instructors set up working environments where you can learn and practice these interactions with other students so that you will know the best way to handle any situation. This is something you can’t learn on the job.
We also know that the way you interact with customers can directly affect the amount of money they tip you, which is great for you, but not something you can learn on the job. A great example is that it has been scientifically-proven that learning someone’s name and repeating it out loud to them makes them more likely to help you out. So, learning a customer’s name will make them more likely to help you out. And over the years, our instructors have learned that customers are willing to help. This bartender got a $1000 tip on a $14 bill. Or this NJ bartender who was left $1000 tip to help pay for her dog’s surgery.
We aren’t saying that everyone is going to tip you $1000 just because you learn their name. But, it is clear that learning how to navigate the world of customer-bartender interaction is beneficial – and is something that you can only learn from a proven professional at a bartender school.
2. Learn the Laws
Some of the most important things you will learn at bartender school are often overlooked and forgotten by bartenders who haven’t attended school. These are specific beverage industry laws from the state of New York that every bar needs to abide by. The laws themselves are part of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC), which was created back in 1933 after Prohibition.
The State Liquor Authority(SLA) and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control were also created as part of this ABC law. The SLA provides “the protection, health, welfare and safety of the people of the State.” They are in charge of things like liquor licenses, inspections, and regulation in the bar industry. Bartender school will give you an overview of these laws – and let you know what you need to know if it ever comes up.
Another type of law that is important to learning about in bartender school is sanitation law. Having first hand experience dealing with these types of rules and regulations, bartending school instructors are the best resources for an aspiring bartender. There are some bars that break these rules very frequently, which can lead to some serious health issues or fines.Our instructors help guide you through the sanitary practices that will help keep your job healthy and safe. You can view some of the laws and restrictions yourself from the NYC website here.
4. A Correct Pour
Over-pouring and spilled drinks are a huge problem in the bartending industry. It is such a problem, in fact, that some companies are trying to create bartending robots to combat the expense of wasted liquor from inept bartenders. Others are trying to track and limit the pours from each bottle with inexpensive devices that actually attach to the liquor bottle, like this one from Barvision.
A correct pour can be the difference between serving 15 drinks from one bottle to serving 25 drinks from one bottle. Over the course of a few weeks and months, the costs really start adding up for a bar. For a bar, a practice pour is money down the drain. Bartending school is the only place where you can actually practice and hone your skills of a correct pour without costing the bar money. A practice pour at bartending school, under the helping guide of an experienced instructor, is a learning experience and a step towards a professional career in bartending.
5. Upselling Techniques
Upselling is the idea where a bartender or server offers additional items to be added to a customer’s order. Did you know that only 15% of customers actually want to hear these additional offers? With such a small margin, there is a no room for error. This is not something you want to leave up to learning on the job, because it is a concept that bar managers look for in hiring employees. Upselling is such an important part of the hiring process because it ensures that you will be actively bringing in more money. This is obviously something all bars want to be doing.
Bartending school is the only place where you can learn the correct upselling tactics and actively practice them with ‘customers’ before actually working a job. It is also the best way to prove to the person hiring that you have learned these skills from instructors who are industry professionals.
6. Control Your bar
Being a bartender is a great responsibility. You need to be confident and lead behind the bar. You are accountable for the speed of service as well as the amount of people you are serving. Too many people slows down the service. Too little service and people might get angry and leave, costing valuable revenue for the bar and tip money in your pocket. A great bartender can efficiently mix and serve drinks to multiple people at once, while also taking orders for the next few.
While this is definitely something that is going to differ based on the bar, the clientele, and other variables like the time of day, you still need to have the knowledge and confidence going into the job to truly do it correctly. This is something that bartending school excels at teaching. Confidence and leadership skills are some of the most important things you will learn at bartending school. These are also what a bar manager is going to look for when hiring.
Another part of controlling your bar is being able to keep track of and control the number of drinks you are giving your customers. Serving drinks to whoever asks is only the beginning. The skill of a great bartender is knowing that Customer 2 already had two Gin and Tonics in the hour and may need a water instead of another. Or knowing that the group of college kids who ordered a round of shots just tried to put their drinks on a stranger’s tab.
Trust us, you are going to want to learn this stuff from a professional before getting behind a bar.
7. Drunks, Drams, and the Law
Dealing with intoxicated people is something you will never be able to learn on your own. This requires training. Bartending school prepares you and helps train for the situations that you may face in any given night. Sure, you may have helped break up a drunken brawl between friends or driven a drunk brother home, but when money and the law are added to the mix, the stakes are much, much higher. This is something that hiring managers take extremely seriously.
We already know that some employers require that employees get certified in certain alcohol awareness programs. New York State doesn’t require anything by law, but insurance companies often tell bar owners to also get their workers trained in an awareness program of some sort. They will also recommend that the bar purchases Liquor Liability Insurance for the bar.
The main reason behind all of this is that if you serve someone who is clearly drunk, and they go get behind a wheel, then there are serious repercussions. There are actual laws that govern over these types of cases, known Dram Shop Laws. The laws vary from state to state, but are very important.
Under NY state’s Dram Shop Law, a bar can be held civilly liable if it serves alcohol to an obviously drunk person.
This is serious business – and something that you want a professional with years on the job teaching you. Bartending school is where you will learn from instructors who have seen it all. American Bartenders School specifically employs teachers who have the experience and knowledge of years of bartending.
8. How it’s Made
As a bartender, you are the resident expert on everything on your side of the bar. Customers look to you for drinks, but sometimes, for answers. “Hey what’s the difference between scotch and bourbon?” Or “Hey what exactly is sour mix?”
These are the types of questions you need to be prepared to answer. You may be thinking, I’m just a bartender, I just get them drinks. Well sorry, not these days. An uninformed bartender not only make a poor impression on himself, but also on the bar. Therefore, this is not someone a bar manager wants to hire.
A lot of it goes back to building rapport with customers to keep them coming back. But furthermore, when you are behind the bar, you should know what you are working with. Know that different beers have different tastes because of little something called hops. Know that some liquors get their color from the barrel-aging process.
These are all things that you learn at bartending school from experts. You don’t want to go in unprepared. Remember, this is the age of the expert, celebrity bartender and mixologist.
9. Learn Your Drink History
To take the previous topic a bit further, you should learn a little history about the drinks you are serving. Why does this help you when you are just serving a drink? Remember, you are the expert. The more that you know, the more that customers will appreciate it. This means better tips and hopefully a returning customer.
We aren’t saying that you have to know the history of each cultures’ first beer (But it sure is interesting…Most cultures created beer with different grains – the Africans used millet, maize and cassava, versus the Chinese who used wheat, while the Egyptians used barley). But taking the time to learn that gin originated in Holland is an interesting fact, and one that may make a connection with a customer. Bartending school once again will teach you these facts.
10. Craft Beer Wars!
First, take this amazing quiz about craft beer. Did you know that only a few companies own most of the beer you see on shelves and serve in bars? It may simply be because of this fact that the craft beer industry is booming.
Irregardless of the fact that the biggest beer companies InBev and SABMiller are merging, there will always be a craft brew industry. A true bartender needs to know the difference between the different types of beer being served.
At bartending school, you will learn about beer from expert instructors. You learn important points like how it’s made, who produces it, what makes some beer different than others, why different beers taste “hoppy”, why some are dark and others are light. American Bartenders School even offers a separate beer class. These distinctions are what make beer great, and keep people coming back for more. If you live in NYC, the average customer cares about the brewery and the type of beer. Did you know that NYC has over 20 craft breweries?
11. Top Drinks – in every industry
This may be the most obvious advantage of learning at a bartending school, but it is important to mention. At American Bartenders School, you will learn the top drinks that you need to know in any industry. Not only will you learn the ingredients and history behind the drinks, but you will learn the proper techniques for making them and serving them.
Sure, you can learn ingredients to make a drink online, but hands-on experience creating a cocktail is the only way to actually get hired as a bartender. Bartending school gives you that experience as well as training from instructors who have been perfecting these cocktails for years.
12. Beef up the Resume
Not only does writing ‘bartending school’ automatically give you a leg up on your competition if you include it on your resume, but at American Bartenders School, the job team also helps you write your resume. Just like any other job, there are certain traits, qualities, and keywords that employers in the bartending industry look for. You will learn these traits and qualities at the school, but we will also help you display them correctly on your resume.
13. Nail the Interview
The job interview is one of the most important parts of getting a job. This can make or break the whole process. Preparing you for your job interview is something that bartending school will prepare you in a way no other school can. American Bartenders School knows the industry, and therefore knows how to help you present yourself in the best way possible.
Knowing the types of questions that a bar manager or restaurant owner will ask you is incredibly important. American Bartenders School (over 60 years!) has been around long enough to know the interview stylings of many employers, since we have relationships with over 1,000 bars and establishments nationwide.
This insider information is extremely valuable and something that you won’t find anywhere else.
14. Find a Job!
If you are looking to get into bartending, you will need help finding a job. Bartending school provides you with that help in the form of a job board and job placement department. This private job board is something that you can not access outside of the system. It is only available to graduates of the American Bartenders School full bartending course.
American Bartenders School’s job placement department is dedicated to help you find a bartending job. Every day new restaurants, sports bars, clubs and hotels open, and they need well-trained, professional bartenders. This growth continues to fuel a demand for bartenders. In good and bad times, people continue to drink no matter the state of the economy.
15. Lifetime Practice
The greatest thing about bartending is that you can come back to it anytime. If you work as a bartender for a few years, then take some time off, bartending will always be there for you. However, coming back after a few months or years is a bit harder than you may think. This is something that bartending school can aide you in that you can’t get in a bar itself.
American Bartenders School offers lifetime access to the facilities for graduates. So, if you have graduated, but then wish to brush up on your skills, you are always welcome back for a refresher course or just to run through some drinks in our bars.