Top Skills For A Bartender

In full disclosure I’ve been frequenting bars before I should have. My first ID was taken away at Toads Place in New Haven, CT and in those days I was drinking swill and Dr. Pepper Shots. It wasn’t until I went to college in New Hampshire that I appreciated the relationship between bartender and patron. Here are some great skills to bone up on if you’re getting into the industry. If you have a local or two I’m sure you can appreciate this.

Speed – No one expects you to break to speed of sound, but a speedy bartender is an important trait. Sure you may have your best friends at the end of the bar but remember you’re working. I’ve walk into and out of many establishments after waiting too long to get my drink order in. I don’t expect the bartender to drop what they’re doing but if they’ve spent 10 minutes texting I’d rather go somewhere else than leave a bad tip.

Good Personality – I love walking into a place and seeing a smiling bartender and presented with a friendly greeting. I’m sure it’s not always easy being in the service industry but it does enhance the customers experience. Speaking with all my bartender friends, taking a few minutes to engage with your patrons will get you a larger tip. When it comes to the rude, obnoxious drunk everything is off the table. They aren’t going to tip well anyways and they’re ruining the experience for everyone else.

Mixology Skills – I’ve never been into the fancy $16 cocktails but I appreciate the skill it takes to not only make them, but remember what’s in them. Unless you’re going for work in a craft cocktail joint I don’t think this needs to be mastered. You should know the basics like the difference between a Black and White Russian.

Memory – This is one of those skills that I continually try and work on to no avail. Even after I say a persons name in my head (if I remember to do that) I often forget it. I’m always blown away when I see my local bartenders remember every customers name and their preferred drink. For a bartender it’s an important tool in the arsenal. It makes the customer feel important and often leads to a bigger tip. Here is a great article, whether you’re a bartender or not to help increase your memory.

Organization –  Great bartenders need to be organized. You’re bar will eventually get busy so there’s no time to look for your shaker, your bar key or to search your shelves for Irish Mist. Like life itself, organization is key.

Multitasking – You need to be able to handle several tasks at once. As a bartender you have to engage and interact with patrons, make drinks, and even keep your bar clean, all at the same time.

You may be surprised how many things you do are not proper bar etiquette. Check out our How To Avoid Annoying Your Bartender series and stop waving around your money.





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