The Most In-Depth Guide On How To Become a Bartender

AND MAYBE HOW TO BE BETTER AT BARTENDING

Never before has there been one Ultimate Guide on How To Become a Bartender.

Here, I will take someone who has never worked in the industry a day in their life, and if they truly grasp everything in this guide, by the end of it they’ll learn how to become a bartender working in a high volume bar making hundreds of dollars a night in tips.

 I even teach you how to go about getting a job. And if you still have difficulty after reading this entire thing, e-mail me and I will give you personal advice.

My best night as a bartender I made $1,300 in an 8 hour shift. 

Besides the financial opportunities, the bar is an extremely attractive place to work.

A place where you can intoxicate yourself amongst the company of other intoxicated ADULTS. Something I personally think is one of the best things about the bar. No children allowed. A real life, adults only, watering hole/breeding ground.


There’s a bar to tickle every fancy. You like quiet and casual conversation? Or loud raging music and not even learning the name of the person you’re making out with? Perhaps you prefer a more luxurious setting. There’s a libation center for everyone. 

If you’ve been to a bar before, you’ve met the miracle workers known as bartenders. People often want to BE the bartender. 

Is it the allure of partying WHILE you’re working? Or is it the flexible hours and great tips which makes it the perfect side job for chasing your real dreams? Maybe you think hopping behind the bar will get you in with the ladies, (or the men). 

While certainly all of these things seem great, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

How do you begin bartending? Well, like any other job, they learn the skills and then start out from the bottom while being abused, overworked, and severely underpaid.

But have no fear! I have created this insanely in-depth guide to teach you everything you could possibly need to know to launch your bartending career (or side hustle).

Chapter #1: Basic Restaurant/Bar  Knowledge/Linguistics

Working in the service industry is similar to being in a cult. There are many strange habits and a whole slew of lingo you need to learn and make a part of yourself. Think of this as the introductory chapter; with three sub chapters.

 

-Political parties

-Restaurant knowledge and lingo

-Bar knowledge and lingo

Different Political Parties

  • The Kitchen: Common sense should tell you that you want to foster a good relationship with the kitchen. These people can be the ones who will feed you after a long dreary shift. Or they will tell you to go f*** yourself. 
  • Servers: You will always have a love hate relationship with the servers. Some of them are complete idiots who are at their peak position in life and still f*** it up regularly. And some will probably be your closest friends. 
  • Bussers: The janitors, handiman, and punching bags of the restaurant. Be good to these people! Their job is hard and there are probably many servers who treat them like trash. But if you’re nice to them and throw them some extra beans when they help you out… they will become your most valuable allies.
  • Barbacks: These are the bar’s version of a busboy, but much more intimate. Having a good barback is like having a good sidekick. If he sucks you really feel it, but it’s not the end of the world. You’ll just have a lot more to do if they turn out not to be reliable.
  • Managers: These people are your superior. Although you may not think some of these beings deserve your respect, treat them with such anyways. It can only benefit you to do so.
  • Bartenders: The creme de la creme. Usually the coolest people in the restaurant. All the servers either want to be you or be in you (or have you be in them…) If you work at a bar with more than one bartender working at a time, it’s CRUCIAL that you get along. You are most likely splitting your tips with them, and you’re basically stranded on a remote island with them for an entire shift.

Restaurant/Bar Terminology

  • ‘86’: This is used to tell people that something is out of stock, sold out, not in the building any longer.

“I just used the last bottle of Grey Goose, it’s 86’d.”

  • ‘In the weeds’ or ‘weeded’: Means I am drowning in tasks right now and I don’t have enough capacity left in my brain to know what I need help with.

“We’re understaffed today and I am so in the weeds!”

  • ‘On the fly’: Is always said after someone asks you for something, and it simply means they need it ASAP because their dumbass forgot.

“Hey I’m ringing in a mojito I need it on the fly, totally didn’t forget to ring that in 15 minutes ago so hurry it up will ya.”

  • ‘Covers’: A cover is the numerical term for a customer.

“It was slow, we only did about 20 covers.”

Do not refer to customers as covers to their face lol.

  • ‘Back of the house’ and ‘Front of the house’: The back is the kitchen and everyone that the customers will not see or deal with regularly. The front is all the service staff, bartenders, bussers, managers; everyone who will be dealing directly with customers. Basically the attractive, and the ugly. Just kidding. (or am I?… I’m totally kidding.)

Bartender Vocabulary

Now that you know some restaurant lingo. Let’s learn about the bar.

  • Mixed Drink: This means spirit plus mixer, just two ingredients. Also known as a Hi-Ball.
  • Cocktail: This is a combination of liquor, liqueurs, syrups, juices, bitters, herbs, fruits, and whatever else to achieve desired taste and presentation.
  • Well Drinks: The well is typically the cheapest liquor that you have in house. It’s located at the rack next to the ice “well”. You use these when people ask for ‘vodka’ or ‘rum’ instead of specifying their preferred brand. 
  • Call Drinks: These are bottles that people will actually tell you they want. For example: “Lemme get a Tito’s and Soda” or “Jack and Coke”. 
  • Top Shelf: Doesn’t always mean the shelf at the very top. Typically means the best/most expensive brands you have for whatever liquor. 
  • Double: A drink, but twice the alcoholism.

Glassware

Wine Glass

You know what this is.

Carafe

A glass that holds more than one drink’s worth of liquid. Either a cocktail or wine typically.

Martini

Stemmed glass with a wide brim, very elegant looking (it’s not girly, get that out your head).

Coupe

Like a martini glass but with edges that curve in to avoid spillage. The superior stemmed glass.

Flute

Skinny, tall stemmed glass meant for sparkling wine, like champagne; it’s narrow so that the bubbles can’t escape as easily.

Hi-Ball

Skinny tall glass that is meant for mixed drinks, and cocktails served on ice.

Rocks Glass

Short glass that is meant for cocktails on the rocks or neat (where they don’t have a lot of liquid).

Snifter

Strange looking, bulb-like glass that has a very short stem; meant for brandy, but can be repurposed for many other things.

Pint Glass

A glass that holds exactly 16 ounces. Usually used for beer and doubles.

Tools

Jigger

Scary looking word; it’s a little measuring tool for liquid that typically measures up to 2oz. and down to a quarter ounce.

Shaker

The two piece contraption you use to shake your cocktails. There are many different types including Boston and Parisian. Boston Shakers are the more common type, and the better one for speed work.

Speed Pour

A metal or plastic pour spout that fits into bottles to allow bartenders to pour accurately without measuring.

Mixing Glass

A glass, cylindrical vessel you stir your cocktails in.

Bar Spoon

A long spoon with a twirly body that is made to easily stir cocktails.

Muddler

This is a long stick usually with a broad, flat end that you use to smash fruits, herbs, and whatever else to bring out their flavors for cocktails.

POS

Point of Sale; this is your computer where you punch in your orders for food and drinks. And where you print your checks and all that fun stuff.

Coasters

Round little pieces of branded cardboard that you are supposed to put underneath every drink to avoid the glass sweating all over your bar.

Bev Nap

Beverage Napkin; Little square napkin that many establishments use instead of coasters.

The Tap

The fountain that pours beer. Magical.

Garnish

The adornment of the drink, which will typically be edible. More on this later.

Bitters

A highly concentrated flavored alcoholic ingredient that you add in dashes to flavor drinks. Considered the ‘spice rack’ of the bar.

Now these are some of the absolute most basic things you have to know, as someone who works the bar.  Now what about the terminology customers will use to ask you for things? Here’s the basics on how to interpret and ask for orders:
  • Neat or On The Rocks: “Neat” means without ice, and “On The Rocks”means with ice. Rocks means ice (duh).
  • Straight up: This does not mean what you think it means. It means to be served in a stemmed glass (Martini or Coupe, we’ll get to the difference later) which obviously doesn’t come with ice. 79% of people will say this, meaning they just don’t want any ice. Always double check in the beginning, eventually context clues will work.
  • Shaken or Stirred: When you shake a cocktail, it dilutes it heavily and breaks off chips of ice into the cocktail. When you stir it, you don’t disturb it nearly as much but you still chill and dilute it.
  • Chilled: They want you to shake or stir it with ice to make it cold and to dilute it a bit.
  • Build: When you build a drink, you put all the ingredients directly into the glass it’s going to be served in. No shaking or stirring or mixing of any sort.
  • Rim: Some drinks work better with salt, sugar, or some variation of the two stuck to the rim. You typically use a piece of lemon or lime to wet the rim and stick it in a pile of the stuff.
  • A “Back”: Lots of bar terminology uses the word “back”, but if a customer orders a ‘water back’ or a ‘coke back’ that means they want that beverage to “back” up their liquor. A chaser. This is an old term and you will be lucky to hear it.
  • A “Part”: When people say 1 part or 2 parts, they mean it as a general measurement. Example: “That drink is all equal parts” means that all the ingredients in the drink are equal in measurement. Or “That syrup is 2 parts sugar, 1 part water.” This means you use twice as much sugar than water.
Tip: We went over differences between well, call, and top shelf already. If someone orders a well drink, don’t just go and pour the cheap stuff like you’re supposed to. Ask them what kind they want, and if they hesitate, recommend a brand that you enjoy. 7/10 times they will go with what you said and now you just got them to order a more expensive drink. 

Chapter #2: Basic Spirit Knowledge

So now that you won’t be standing around wondering what that guy was talking about, let’s get started on how to build a drink. 

Just like when you’re cooking delicious meals or cooking in the lab with dangerous chemicals, you should understand what you’re playing with. 

Liquors

These are your high alcohol spirits. Different from liqueurs. They can generally be split into 6 different types:

VODKA

This is a neutral spirit that can be distilled from many different things, most commonly potatoes or grains. Definitely the one you’ll be using the most.

GIN

Like vodka, it is a neutral spirit but it’s heavy on the botanicals. It has more depth and flavor than vodka does, specifically the flavors of the juniper berry.

RUM

A spirit distilled from sugar or molasses so it is understandably sweeter than other spirits. Different types of rum are made everywhere, especially in countries with tropical climates.

TEQUILA

The spirit of Mexico. It is only made in Mexico and is distilled from the agave plant. Has a very recognizable taste to it that you will either love or hate.

WHISKEY

The most complex spirit of the six with probably the most variations and brands available. Made from a blend of fermented barley, rye, and corn.

BRANDY

A liquor that is usually distilled from grapes, but any liquor that is distilled from fruits will fall under this category.

Note: Now while there are only six, these are just the broad categories. There are many sub-categories within these six that are wildly unique. Some examples being:

  • Scotch
  • Mezcal
  • Rye

When dealing with liquor, small factors, such as the type of wood barrel it was aged in or the climate the ingredients were grown in, will drastically change the flavors. Which is why in the world of booze, brands most definitely matter.

In terms of cocktails, these six are considered base spirits; the strength and the main component of the cocktail which you will build around.

Liqueurs

If the liquor is the meat of the dish, then liqueurs are the sauce. They are just as important, if not more, to the flavor and the balance of a cocktail.

Liqueurs are also distilled spirits, although not as high alcohol as liquor. 

Liqueurs can be fruity and sweet; bringing specific flavors and sweetness to your drink that can pair and counteract the harshness of the liquor.

They can also be bitter or dry; to achieve a different taste while still working with the qualities of the liquor. 

Some examples of popular sweet liqueurs are:

  • Sour Apple Pucker
  • Peach Schnapps
  • Creme de Banana
  • Bailey’s
  • Chambord (black raspberry liqueur)
  • St. Germaine (elderflower liqueur)
  • Triple Sec

Note: Creme and Cream are completely different. Cream means what you think it means, milk based (like Bailey’s) and Creme is a liqueur that is made with more sugar than usual, making it more syrupy but not at all creamy.

Some examples of bitter or dry liqueurs:

  • Dry vermouth
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Amaro
  • Campari
  • Aperol
  • Chartreuse

No need to focus too hard on this as a beginner. Once you’ve leveled up a few times you’ll start to learn what they taste like and how to use them in your own recipes.

Syrups and Juices

The obvious part of making drinks. What better way to change the harsh flavor of liquor? By drowning it in juice! Nope, that’s wrong. For mixed drinks you typically use double the amount of mixer or more for the amount of liquor you put in. 

Here’s a list of some essential syrups and juices to know about behind the bar:

  • Simple Syrup: Name tells it all. This is just basic sugar syrup, made by mixing 1 part sugar with 1 part hot water until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can make your syrup richer, by putting more sugar than water. Most recipes call for this 1:1 ratio of simple syrup and you should stick to it.
  • Sour Mix: Either bought or homemade, this is a combination of lemon and lime juice that has been sweetened. Used in tons of cocktails and some bars use it to replace simple syrup and lime juice. 
  • Grenadine: A thick, very heavy pomegranate flavored syrup that is slightly tart. Can also be homemade.
  • Agave Nectar: A thick, natural sweetener that comes from the agave plant. This nectar is very thick and sweet so some bartenders dilute it with hot water to make it more into a syrup. This makes it easier to pour from bottles or squeeze bottles as well. 
  • Honey: You know what this is. Dilute it with hot water or it will be so thick that it’s almost impossible to use behind the bar. 
  • Orgeat: An almond syrup. Basic orgeat is made from almond, however there are many different types of orgeat made from different nuts. Used in many classics and specialty cocktails around the world.
  • Lime Juice: Probably the number one ingredient you’ll be using behind the bar.

 

  • Lemon Juice: While achieving similar results as lime juice, lemon juice has a softer taste that certain recipes call for. 

 

  • Soda Water: Seltzer, Club, Soda. It has many names behind the bar, and just as many uses. A splash of carbonated water cuts through alcohol or overly sweet drinks, like a hot knife through butter.

 

  • Tonic Water: A carbonated drink in which quinine is dissolved in water. It has a very distinct dry/bitter taste that pairs very well with many spirits. Most tonics now are sweetened.

The most important juices, and maybe some of the most important ingredients in the entire bar are…lemon and lime juice.

A vast majority of cocktails use some kind of citrus.

Acidity is crucial to a well balanced cocktail. And lemon and lime are the only two fruits sour enough to bring that to you without also bringing sweet.

When using juices and syrups in cocktails, you want to keep it under control. Following the existing recipes is crucial; a little time in my Cocktail Library and you’ll have no excuse for serving anything less than a perfect cocktail.

Bitters

Bitters are considered the spice rack of the cocktail world. Since they are so heavily concentrated, a few dashes is enough to introduce its qualities to your cocktail. You will most commonly use Angostura bitters which is basically the default setting for bitters.

Overproof Alcohol

These are liquors that have extremely high alcohol content. Like 151 proof rum, absinthe, Everclear. Usually reserved for the pyrotechnics of bartending. Don’t ever put too much of this in a drink. And if anyone orders a shot of this straight at the bar, call the police.

Garnish

A garnish is like an ornament for your cocktail. Except it should be necessary or useful.

 A garnish should complement the drink, as in, it should make sense. Like no one garnishes a mojito with rosemary. It has mint, it should get mint. Or lime. Or something relevant. Catch my drift?

This is also your area to be creative as a bartender. Even if you’re sticking to the recipe. Do a little something extra with the garnish. As long as it’s not annoying or getting in the way. Sometimes less is more. Take a look at some of these creative garnishes for inspiration

Chapter #3: Basic Beverage Architecture

Measurements

Another IMPORTANT thing a bartender does is measure things.

Think of yourself as a salesman, and your product is your liquor. You have to measure things so that your drinks taste proper, and that the establishment makes the money it’s supposed to. For this you need your handy dandy jigger. At least until you’re comfortable enough to count. Even then, some establishments might require you to use your jigger.

Every bartender counts in their head while they pour. If your bottle has a speed pour, the liquid will be coming out in a steady stream that is typically a quarter ounce per count. This is not completely accurate and everyone counts at different speeds.

Before continuing, watch this video on how to practice and develop a count.

Play Video

Tip: Take an empty bottle and fill it with water. Stick a speed pour in it and practice pouring into a one ounce shot glass or jigger. Count to four and make sure you reach four by the time the vessel is full. So, your four count should always be one ounce. This way, each number you ‘count’ will account for a quarter ounce of liquid.

Until you’re completely comfortable with counting in your head, use a jigger. 

Even after you’re comfortable. I recommend always using a jigger. It adds to the show and ensures your drinks are fuego everytime.

Now that you know exactly what you’re dealing with and how to measure it, it’s time to learn the different types of drinks you’ll be making.

Mixed Drinks or Hi Balls: Two ingredients, spirit and mixer. The rule of thumb is to use 1.5 ounces of liquor and fill the rest of the glass with ice and the mixer. (This can change depending on the establishment’s preference)

  • 1.5-2 oz. of liquor
  • Mixer
  • Ice
  • Garnish

When building a cocktail straight into the glass, you wanna build it without ice, so that adding the ice can act as you start mixing it.

Tip: Do it in that order. If you put the ice in after the other two ingredients, your drink will always be better distributed. Think of that gin and tonic you had, where it was all drink the first few sips, then all tonic the last few. That’s not a pleasant experience.

On The Rocks: Cocktails that are served over ice. They are also shaken or stirred, although with some, you can build straight into the glass.

Neat: Most cocktails you are serving without ice should come in a stemmed glass like a martini or a coupe. However, it’s all about creativity and sometimes a rocks glass with no ice is the way to go.

Martini Style: This means you will either shake or stir your cocktail and then strain it into a martini glass. Coupe glasses are similar but they rock a curved edge to help your drink from spilling (aka the SUPERIOR GLASS). 

Hot Cocktails: Should be served in a glass with a handle. For obvious reasons.

Doubles: Put them in a pint to make up for the extra liquor.

Chapter #4: Mixing Techniques

Cocktails are multi-ingredient drinks and combining them properly takes a little more effort than just dumping them into the same glass.

You can shake, stir, roll, or simply build your cocktail.

Seems like a lot, so how do you know when to do what? 

You shake to chill and mix. Usually when your recipe calls for a lot of juices, syrups, or non alcoholic ingredients. And when you don’t mind if it will be heavily disturbed by ice.

You stir when you want to keep the integrity and the characteristics of all the ingredients intact. This is mainly for spirit-forward cocktails, which are boozier, more bitter cocktails or ones that use mainly liquor and liqueurs that you wouldn’t want to bruise by watering down with a vigorous shake.

I’m not going to get deep into what specific recipes to try, but check out this article for a list of what recipes you should absolutely learn before hopping behind a bar.

Once you get into the more advanced realms of the bartending world, there will become more and more techniques available to you. But this is the beginner course buckaroo, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and learn everything at once.

What’s one of the reasons why bartending is considered as a sexy job? One of the reasons is because there are so many ways that you can display your own swag. Even amongst the billions of bartenders out there, nobody does everything the same way.

This leads me to an important topic. Your shake.

To begin, learn how to shake, period.

But once you get the hang of it, incorporate your own style. At some point in your life, you had to have seen someone shaking a cocktail and been like “Oh wow, that’s a lot of swag just dripping off this person while they’re shaking”. Or maybe that’s just me.

@barchemistry

100k y’all deserved it 😭😭😭 THANK YOU I LOVE U ##xyzcba

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That’s a compilation of my shakes from TikTok.

Your stir should also be something you master. Elegant and seamless.

Watch this video before reading any further.

Play Video

How long you stir for and how much ice you use is very important. Proper dilution is the difference between a great cocktail and a mediocre one.

Hopefully that helped you a little. Keep in mind that, in this world, no amount of videos will beat real life experience.

Once you’ve shaken (or stirred) your cocktail, you must transfer the finished cocktail into its proper vessel. If your shaker doesn’t have a strainer built in, grab your Hawthorne Strainer and strain it into the proper glass. 

Now that I’ve armed you with the capabilities to shake, stir, and strain, let’s go through the steps of building an actual drink that you’ll probably be asked to make many times throughout your bartending career.

The Cosmopolitan

  • 1.5 oz. Citron Vodka
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec
  • 0.5 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish: Lime
  • Glass: Martini

This drink is shaken. How would I have known that if I hadn’t made 1,000s of them by now? Well it’s a juice heavy cocktail. While you can stir cocktails with juice, it’s usually a better idea to shake it. 

Take your smaller shaker, and add all the ingredients. 

Always build in the smaller shaker! This way, your drink will have room to move around and really shake well inside the shaker. 

You’re gonna want to measure the ingredients if you’re new to this. Or if you’re not using a speed pour. 

Next, add ice.

Why do we add ice after the liquid? Because of dilution. 

Pouring the warm or room temperature ingredients over the ice will cause it to melt before we begin our shake. Every drink needs a certain amount of dilution but too much will make for watery drinks.

Some may argue this difference is miniscule and shouldn’t matter.

I think it’s good practice.

Now then, after you’ve added the ice, pop the larger shaker on, give it a nice spanking to make sure it’s sealed tight. (you’ll not only get wet but you’ll be super embarrassed if it pops open mid shake.) And shake vigorously. 

Opening the shaker is something that will become second nature after you’ve done it a few times, but for now, refer back to the video on the shaker you watched not long ago.

Now that you’ve opened it, pop the strainer on top and pour the drink into your chilled martini glass. Then garnish. 

And voilà.

Your first completed cocktail! Amazing job.

Chapter #5: Intermediate Techniques

We’ve just completed the absolute necessary techniques to make cocktails. Now what about the ones that add just a little more to your alcoholic arsenal?

These Level Up techniques include:

  • Rolling a Cocktail: this is when you “roll” a drink between two glasses to mix it. Used to aerate (create bubbles), mix a drink without diluting, or to properly mix a built drink.
  • Dry Shake: This means to shake the ingredients without ice. Commonly used when making drinks with egg whites, aquafaba or even cream
  • Muddling: When you use your muddler to press the flavors out of fruits and herbs.
  • Floating: Pouring a liquid ingredient slowly on top of a cocktail (off the back of a spoon usually) to make it float on top and create a visually pleasing aesthetic.

Now what techniques will you be frequently using behind the bar? 

How about pulverizing fruit or herbs to achieve certain flavors? Yes, we are gonna use our favorite sex toy look alike, the muddler.

When you muddle things like fruits, you wanna muddle hard, and make sure you really squeeze out every drop of juice from it. 

But when you muddle delicate things like herbs (mint, sage, basil), you wanna keep it gentle; it doesn’t take a lot to release the oils from the herbs. Which is what you’re aiming to do.

Let’s make a cocktail together that requires some muddling.

The Mojito.

  • Glass: Highball
  • Garnish: Mint Sprig and Lime
  • Ingredients: 
  • White Rum: 2 oz.
  • Lime Juice: 1 oz.
  • Simple Syrup: 1 oz.
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves

And here we demonstrate the difference between muddling fruits or herbs. Watch it before continuing.

Play Video

That’s a perfect example of the differences in muddling fruits vs. herbs.

When muddling fruits like berries and citrus, or vegetables like jalapeños or cucumber, you wanna really pulverize them.

As opposed to the gentle press you’ll be giving your herbs, like mint and basil.

Using a proper muddler always helps. Muddling is often the most annoying part of making cocktails.

This one is my favorite:

Rolling a Cocktail:

Rolling can be done for any drink that you wanna make sure the components are properly distributed.

But some drinks are better when they’re rolled.

Like the Bloody Mary:

Watch this video on how to roll a Bloody Mary:

Dry Shake

If you’re new to cocktails, you’re probably confused as hell. Or you’ve used context clues to deduce that it’s just a shake without ice.

This is done to aerate and froth ingredients like egg white or any of its vegan alternatives.

EGG WHITE?! Yes, they’re quite a big part of cocktails.

They introduce a nice creamy and frothy texture that’s hard to get otherwise. 

Also it gives it that beautiful foam on top! Complete game changer.

Typically you will shake a cocktail that has egg white without ice first. Very vigorously. Then add ice and shake it again.

You can also ‘reverse dry shake’ which is doing the shake with ice first. Straining the liquid out, dumping the ice, and then shaking again.

Chapter #6: Beer Knowledge

We’ve covered everything you’ll need to know about cocktails to get you started. But that’s not the only part of the job.

In fact, at the type of bar you’ll probably start at, it might be the least useful part of your knowledge. 

As the ‘keeper of the bar’ your job is to aid the customers who don’t know too much about the beverage they’re choosing.

And I’m sure you know beer is a big part of that.

One of the most fundamental differences you need to know is the difference between an Ale and a Lager.

Ale’s are usually stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, than lagers. Lagers also tend to be lighter in color.

Most popular mainstream beers are lagers. (Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light) while IPAs are what comes to my mind when I think of ale.

Make sure to always offer tastes of whatever you have on tap. Not only is it good hospitality, but if you’re not sure about what to suggest, it’s better to let the guest see for themselves before pouring a full beer.

Also make sure that you actually know what all the beers you are serving actually taste like. Everything is about preference and you can’t sell a product that you’ve never even tasted!

I’m not gonna get too deep into beer here. Beer is also the cheapest option at the bar and I wouldn’t focus my efforts on building a strong beer knowledge before anything else. Unless you’re just really into it.

Chapter #7: Wine Knowledge

Depending on where you work, this can either be the most important thing you need to know, or completely useless. Either way, for your long-term bartending and restaurant career/side hustle, you will NEED a strong wine knowledge. At least strong enough so you can bullshit.

Wine questions are also very common when interviewing at high end restaurants and bars later in your career.

(Also, a solid way to impress your date is picking a beautiful wine at dinner, without looking like you don’t know what you’re doing.)

On a bottle of wine, there’s usually tons of information. You should always know three things about each bottle that you serve by the glass.

  • The Region
  • The Varietal
  • The Vintage (Year)

Just rattling off these three facts without having to look at the menu, then telling the guest whether you like it or actually prefer a different wine of similar flavor profile will sell them. 

Confidence is 90% of the battle when it comes to selling wine because wine is so subjective.

Make sure you’ve actually tasted all the wines you are selling so you know what you can confidently push to guests.

Opening a bottle of wine can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. 

Here’s a video demonstrating how to use a waiter’s corkscrew. The type of wine key you will be using at work.

When you pour, always turn the bottle as you finish your pour to make sure the wine doesn’t dribble all over the glass and the bar.

Here’s a video from my Wine Crush Wednesday Series that’ll give you some slightly playful insight.

@barchemistry

Full length reviews (which include other opinions besides my own) go on YouTube! Subscribe to us there ##wine ##malbec ##bartender ##wcw ##wbarchemistry

♬ original sound - barchemistry

I absolutely hate when the bartender makes my glass all sticky before I’ve even had a chance to drink from it. Sets a bad tone from the start.

Always let the host taste the wine first (host is the person who ordered) to see if he likes it. Bottles of wine can be pricey and you don’t want them to drink an entire bottle of something they don’t like (It’ll only lower your tip.)

And if it’s a wine by the glass, always offer them a taste first. That’s good hospitality practice.

Other than that, just remember not to be pretentious and make sure to make the guest feel as comfortable as possible with their choices. No one likes to feel like they’re inferior, ESPECIALLY when it comes to wine.

At higher end restaurants, you’ll be required to have a little more knowledge about wine. But let’s assume this is not where you’ll be starting out and move along.

Chapter #8: Getting A Job

What’s the use of all this knowledge if it’s not gonna get you a check?

Just like any other job that pays well and comes with benefits (a different type of benefits here), you’ll probably need to start out at an entry level position and work your way up.

Apply to a bar that you’d like to work at as a Barback or a Server. Although, most places will require you to have serving experience to get hired as a waiter.

Most managers and bar owners actually prefer a noob barback who is interested in promotion to work slower shifts like lunch or Mondays. 

MAKE IT CLEAR that you want to be a bartender and that you know your stuff, despite your lack of experience. Be confident and tell them you will easily prove yourself at whatever opportunity they give you. 

I told my manager I’d take a test on every single cocktail he could think of to get promoted.

After you get hired, it’s just patience and diligence. Ask the bartenders many questions about how things work and how they make the signature drinks while you’re working.

This goes without saying but if you are not a good barback… Then there is 0 chance of you becoming a bartender.

If you can’t even walk what would make your boss trust you to fly?

Things you must know:

Drink Terminology (shaken, stirred, rocks, up, dirty, dry etc.)

Liquor brands (familiarize yourself with whatever is popular over where you work.)

Cocktails (Know how to make classics. At least these ones.)

Basic Wine and Beer knowledge (Differences of red and white, Basic types of beer)

All your bar tools.

Postface:

If you’ve made it this far then you are armed with more knowledge than 85% of bartenders I’ve worked with. Use my cocktail library to memorize recipes and follow us on TikTok/YouTube/IG for constant bartending tips, tricks, and recipes!

If this was valuable to you, share it to your social media! It may be valuable to one of your followers as well.

You can buy a dope ass shaker to get started in your tending here.

If you want your own bar tool kit, check out this article for links to what I consider the best and cheapest options for the other bar tools to round out your arsenal.

Thanks for reading! Happy hunting and shoot us an email to let us know if this helped you get a job! You may end up featured on our site and social media 🙂

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