At one point in everyone’s life, they have considered, or succeeded in, becoming a Bartender. For damn good reason too. It’s great money, there’s levels to this shit, it has a sort of glamour and ‘fast rockstar lifestyle’ appeal, and there are artistic and creative aspects to the job as well. For a lot of people who weren’t built for the 9-5 office lifestyle, this high paced and social occupation is a perfect alternative that you can even make an actual living off of!! Imagine being able to pay rent without a college degree! WOW!
Obviously there are many jobs that you don’t need a degree for that can help you pay rent (depending on where you live coughnotnyc). But few offer the same swag and sex appeal that bartending does. The hard part for most people is not deciding if they wanna do this, but rather how?
The common man seems to think that taking a class and gaining your Bartender’s license is the best way to get into this industry. Completely false.
I’ve met and worked with hundreds if not thousands of Bartenders by now, not one of the employed Bartenders had a license, or started by getting one. While my friends who had licenses or took classes, never worked in a bar a day in their lives despite attempts to. In fact the best (only) ways to become a bartender is to start at a lower position within a restaurant that you think you can get promoted at. Either a server or a barback, that’s the only way in my opinion. Just like any other position at any other job. If it’s any good and pays well, you have to earn it.
So here are the top 5 things I think you should know before you delve into this glamorous career path.
1. Don’t get into it because you enjoy partying.
The number one reason I hear people wanna be bartenders is because they enjoy drinking/partying. Well newsflash, if you work in one, you won’t be partying in one.
A bar or restaurant will most likely not hire you if you don’t have your weekends available. ESPECIALLY if you don’t have them available so you can get hammered at their competition, or even worse, at your place of work.
Be prepared to sacrifice a loooot of nights out, and don’t think you’ll be drinking at work either. Most places don’t allow that and I really don’t think chugging a water downed vodka soda while you think your manager’s not looking is worth risking your job.
2. Your personality matters more than anything.
The second biggest group of people who think they’d automatically be a great bartender are the attractive ones. However this is still a service job. And don’t get me wrong it’s always better if you’re good looking, but no one wants to be served by someone who’s nothing more than a pretty face.
Hospitality is king, how friendly you are and how well you can curate your guest’s night out is crucial to being a good bartender. This is also how you make your real money. People feel connected to the bartender (I mean you’re pouring them liquor duh) and people always want to be friends or friendly with the bartender. If they feel like you’ve been vibing, your tips are almost guaranteed to go up. On top of the fat tip they were already gonna give you because they wanna sleep with you.
While people certainly return to creep on said cute bartenders, it’s personalities that actually bring the guests back. Every bar you walk into has an attractive girl or guy on the payroll. But what makes you different? Use that.
3. It’s hard to live a healthy lifestyle.
The biggest downside to this job is the toll it takes. Definitely is no secret that staying up till 4am every weekend is bad for your health. It ages you as well.
And besides the late bedtime, it’s common to go a ten hour shift without eating a single thing besides the nuts or pretzels you have behind the bar to give to guests who aren’t eating. And once you’re done and you have to choose between McDonald’s or cooking at 4 in the morning for your meal, you tell me what you’re picking.
That being said it’s not impossible to be healthy. Bring a fruit shake and keep it in the fridge to drink halfway through your shift. Or choose to work in a restaurant that has an early last call.
And don’t say yes every time your coworkers wanna drink after work. It’s necessary sometimes but not always.
Sacrifices will always be made though.
4. Think of your drinks like a chef thinks of food.
The only thing worse than a bad bartender is one who clearly doesn’t care. Don’t think of these drinks as just a chore you have to put up with in your long list of job descriptions. Think of it as your creation. Every cocktail you make is something you create for another person’s enjoyment. Now you may wanna work at a dive bar or a taphouse where this won’t really apply to you, but seeing as how this is a cocktail blog then I don’t know how you’ve even read this far lol.
Don’t take shortcuts that compromise your drink just cause you’re a little busy. I promise if they send it back it will make you even busier and probably mad as hell.
Chef’s take immense pride in watching people enjoy their food, that goes for everyone that makes food not just top of the line celebrity chefs. Think of your drinks the same way and strive to make everyone correctly and to the best of your ability.
5. PAY YOUR TAXES!!!!
This sounds stupid and obvious but it’s not. Unless your job is completely under the table and you plan on keeping all that cash in cash, you need to make sure you’re paying your taxes correctly.
If you’re like me and most of your tips go on your paycheck anyways, you’re fine because your job’s probably paying them for you (with your tips obviously).
But if you receive all your tips in cash at the end of the night, and you’re not being paid under the books. You best believe the IRS isn’t just gonna forget about that money.
I’ve personally owed thousands of dollars that I didn’t have at the end of the year because I would get my money in cash and I’ve only just recently became smart enough to save my money.
And i’ve heard even worse stories from people who’ve worked in the industry much longer than I have. I’m talking hundreds of thousands in debt to the IRS. The worst group of people to owe anything to.
Take it from me and make sure your taxes are in order, don’t wait for them to audit you.
Cause why’d you wanna be a bartender? Probably the fast cash. Doesn’t really work if you go into thousands of dollars into debt every tax season.