As customers we are looking for fast service that’s not bothersome, great cocktails at a reasonable price, and an atmosphere we expect from the establishment we are visiting.
As bartenders we have to create this experience and personalize it for each customer or group of customers. There are infinitely many ways this can be accomplished… and just as many ways to screw it up. Below are a few concepts every bartender should embrace.
1. Keep Your Damn Bar Clean
People come to sip cocktails, relax, and enjoy some down time with friends or family. This is impossible when looking at dirty glassware and dishes, or sitting at sticky bartops and tables. The cleanliness and organization of your bar is a DIRECT reflection of your skills and experience as a bartender.
2. Treat All Customers Fairly and Equally
If you’re one of those bartenders who skips over the guy waiting for 10 minutes to help the TNA that just walked up to the bar, then you’re a douche and I’m leaving your bar immediately. Even though it can seem impossible on crazy nights, you must maintain some type of “first come first serve” system.
3. Mind Your Own Damn Business
It’s easy for bartenders to overhear the private conversations of the patrons. Keep in mind that most customers see you as part of the bar decor and sometimes don’t realize that you can hear them. Keep your comments, smirks, or other expressions to yourself to avoid embarrassing your customers.
4. You Control Who Drinks, Not the Customer
Most individuals believe that it is their right to have as many drinks as they choose as long as they’re paying. All experienced bartenders know this is not the case. You have to gauge the clarity or drunkenness of an individual and make a decision whether or not they are able continue drinking.
Cutting someone off is never fun, but it’s part of our job. In doing so, you are reducing the liability of yourself and your establishment by making a responsible decision.
5. Maintain Proper Hygiene
Wash your hands regularly, pop a mint, shave, keep your neckline tight, wear a clean and ironed uniform every day, keep your nails clean and trimmed, don’t run your fingers through your hair or rub your face. If you’re ill, keep your sick ass home, don’t spread your disease.
Also, keep your hands and fingers off the areas of the glassware that touches your customers mouth. If you have to fish out an ice cube or a lime wedge from a cocktail, use a clean bar spoon, not your fingers.
6. Take Pride in Your Work
Take the time to learn the proper recipes of 50 of the most popular cocktails. Remember, that you are always a student of mixology, staying current on new cocktails. Don’t ever send out a cocktail that’s warm when it’s supposed to be cold or vice versa. If you think a cocktail looks weird or unappetizing, chances are the customer will too.
7. Handling Tips
All service staff should only count tips after a shift and out of the view of customers. You should never assume that you’re getting a tip or that the “change” is a tip. Always take care in making sure your customer never feels obligated or pressured into leaving you a tip. If you give good service, you’ll get a tip. If you make a customer feel special and at home, you’ll make a good living.