Beyond Mixing Drinks – A Guide to Bartending Success

Beyond Mixing Drinks – A Guide to Bartending Success

You’ve gone to school and now you’re a mixologist. It’s time to become a Master Bartender.
Tip: Customer service is job one

Patrons of your bar expect to feel like they are the only ones there, even when they’re not. You should greet each customer kindly with a smile on your face. I know when you’re slammed it may be a daunting task but it’s a must.

Tip: Bar owner’s hire bartenders with a following

Work on you memory skills. Knowing your regulars name is good business. Knowing their name and what they drink–you better buy another tip jar. By learning who they are, what they do, and what they like you will develop a following (a customer base that will follow you to another bar). However, don’t just cater to the ‘clicks’ (regulars), new faces can become followers too.

Another thought, people are impressed by servers who don’t have to write orders down to remember them and get it right.

Tip: Multitask

Keep your eye on drink levels and keep your ears open. You should be able to carry on a conversation, make a Long Island Ice Tea, and answer a beer call at the same time.

Plus, you must always maintain your bar. Dirty bars drive business right out the door. Be sure to zone areas that are vacated as soon as possible to make room for the next body. Keep a wet bar rag handy for spot cleaning and, nasty as it is, dump ashtrays often.

Tip: Make your register ring

Up sell often. If a customer asks for a bourbon and coke, ask them if they want Jack or Jim (if those are on your well then go for Maker’s Mark). Not only will you make money for the bar, you’ll make money for yourself. The owner and/or manager will take notice. The higher your numbers, the more likely you are to get a better shift, promoted, or a raise.

Tip: Market your bar

You can improve your following and increase business if you network. On your days off go to other bars and market yourself. Meet the patrons and pass out business cards with your name, bar, and your picture if your so inclined. Be sure there are directions or a map on the back.

Tip: Sex sells

Don’t be afraid to show a little skin.

Tip: Don’t be just another pretty face

Get yourself noticed! Take opportunities to make suggestions to boost sales and bring in more business. Make the bar work for you.

  1. Encourage specials
  2. Suggest theme/party nights
  3. Did you say free pool?
  4. Buffet night–after all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
  5. Is there untapped potential? Look into joining dart, pool, and shuffleboard tournaments. Then get people to sign up!
  6. Don’t forget your day bar. Run specials, offer food, buy the bar a set of Dominoes to play with customers during the lull.

Do your share of the responsibilities

There are responsibilities for all bartender shifts. Don’t be a slacker. If you were given a chore to complete before your shift is up, make sure you get it done. Also, have the bar clean and ready at shift change and for opening in the morning.

  1. Keep fresh fruit cut and bins full.
  2. Don’t leave an empty bottle on the well or the rack.
  3. Ensure that there’s plenty of ice.
  4. Close out all open tabs.
  5. Clean dirty dishes.
  6. Bartender courtesy is appreciated (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours).

Tip: Follow the rules

Don’t serve minors. ID everyone you are suspicious of and even some you’re not–they may like the compliment and give you a better tip. The law is watching and sting operations are used to prevent minor drinking.

Tip: Do comps

Your boss should encourage complimentary drinks. Comps on birthdays, anniversaries, and weekly (or at least monthly) for good regulars. Also, free sodas or virgins for designated drivers, always.

Tip: Always be aware

Speaking of designated drivers, you are liable if an intoxicated patron leaves your bar and hurts someone. Always be aware of how much you are serving. Don’t be afraid to cut someone off. Your customer’s are your friends–more like acquaintances. You must ensure safety for all, always! Look for signs of intoxication.

  1. How are their eyes?
  2. Are they staggering when they walk?
  3. Is their speech slurred?
  4. Can they maintain focus on a subject?

Keep numbers for taxicab companies behind the bar. Some companies will even pick drunken customers up fare free. If a customer tries to leave and they are too drunk to drive take away their keys, ask for assistance if you have to, call husbands/wives. Do what ever you have to do to protect yourself, your customer, and others in the event of over serving. In every case prevention is the best cure.

Cheers to your success!