The ultimate guide to starting your bartending career

Thinking of pursuing a career in bartending? Find out what you need to know and do to get started.

As you probably already know, a bartender is someone who works behind the scenes to mix and serve drinks in a variety of settings, including restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, and other similar places. A job as a bartender might be just up your alley if you enjoy the art of cocktail making, interacting with many different people, and don’t mind working late hours. 

The nightlife sector is demanding, and bartending is no picnic – it takes physical endurance, prioritization skills, and great interpersonal skills to succeed. But if the thought of working as a bartender still intrigues you, we have a few suggestions that can help you succeed in this field. 

Develop the essential bartending skills

If you want to become a bartender, one good way to start is by learning the basics of cocktail ingredients, recipes, and techniques. Experiment with various flavors and practice drink mixing to perfection. The Martini, the Old Fashioned, and the Mojito are just a few of the classic cocktails that you should learn to make, along with the modern ones.

Your customer service skills should be your next focus. Making cocktails is only half of being a bartender; the other half is interacting with customers. Master the art of connecting with customers, learning their tastes, and making tailored suggestions by honing your interpersonal skills. Even a one-time drinker may become a loyal customer with the right attitude and level of service.

You should also work on becoming more efficient with your time. Multitasking is a common requirement in bartending jobs. Time management, order prioritization, and organization are all skills you should develop or improve. You will easily handle busy shifts if you have a system for keeping track of orders and ingredients.

Lastly, problems might pop up out of nowhere when you’re a bartender. You should be prepared to think quickly on your feet and come up with creative solutions to any situation, whether it is a spilled drink, a client complaint, or a problem with the equipment. Staying calm in high-pressure situations is essential for being a good bartender.

Complete the necessary training and certification

Although it is not required to become a certified bartender, doing so may greatly benefit your professional chances by providing you with valuable knowledge, credentials, and skills. Think about taking a bartending course at a local community college, online, or at a vocational school.

The basics of mixology, proper bartending technique, safely serving alcohol, and bar management are common topics covered in these classes. You may show that you are dedicated to your career and the bartending industry by earning a certification from a reputable organization as well.

As Alcohol Certification Experts state, once you pass the exam and get your certificate, this certification will attest to your ability to responsibly serve alcoholic drinks and your completion of the necessary training. Written tests, practical evaluations, and hands-on training are the usual components of certification programs that guarantee you know how to succeed in your career.

Gain practical experience

If you’re new to the field, you can get practical experience in a restaurant or bar environment by beginning your career as a server or barback. These entry-level positions provide a great opportunity to learn about different types of ingredients and drinks, get to know the bar’s inner workings and see more experienced bartenders in action.

When you become confident about your knowledge and skills, start applying for entry-level bartender jobs at hotels, restaurants, and bars in your area. In your application, highlight your will to learn, customer service skills, and mixology knowledge. Starting with more basic tasks like pouring beers and preparing basic cocktails, you will work your way up to more complicated ones like making signature drinks and keeping track of inventories.

You can also look into apprenticeships and internships offered by well-known bartenders or bartending schools as a way to get working experience. Gain practical skills, guidance from bartending professionals, and real-world experience in this supportive environment. Here, you’ll have plenty of chances to practice bartending skills, get feedback from pros, and build your confidence.

Build your network

Networking is key to success in your bartending career. If you want to learn more about bartending, meet other professionals, grow your network, and keep up with the latest trends and innovations, then you should join bartending associations, engage in online forums, go to industry events, and enter workshops and seminars.

Networking with other bartenders, bar owners, beverage distributors, and influential people in the sector may lead to mentoring, collaboration, and future employment. Also, make a name for yourself in the industry by being active on social media, starting a blog, or putting together a portfolio of your best cocktails, bartending work, and customer reviews. Making a good impression online may help you get a job, show off your skills, and connect with customers.

Strat your job search and go for interviews

When applying for bartender positions, make sure your application stands out by highlighting your relevant experience, education, and certifications. As we already mentioned, it’s important to personalize your CV for each position you apply for by highlighting your skills in mixology, customer service, and willingness to learn. You should also put an accent on relevant work history, such as bartending classes, certificates, or positions in the industry.

During interviews, use interesting anecdotes and examples to highlight your personality, enthusiasm, and problem-solving skills. Get ready to talk about the drinks you love, explain how you treat customers, and show that you can handle tough situations with grace and professionalism. You could also want to compile a portfolio of your cocktail creations or prepare a tasting demonstration.

Directly contacting restaurants and bars, and going to job fairs and other industry events are all great ways to get a head start on your job hunt. Rejection is a part of the interview process, but you should consider it a chance to grow and learn. When looking for a bartending job, it’s important to consider how the position will fit in with your personality, talents, and long-term ambitions.

To sum up, being a bartender isn’t an easy job. If you want to get far faster, start small, maybe as a barback, and learn from others who have been there and done that. We wish you the best of luck as you dive headfirst into the world of bars and cocktails!