So were chatting the other day over here at Be A Better Bartender about what it takes to be a bartender. We decided that we had to make a list. For four hours we argued. We argued hard. As lists go. We are pretty happy with what we have come up with. Tell us what you think below. Do you agree? Would you change any of them?
This is unbiased from the views of both what a manager wants to see and what the customer wants to see from the bartender. We decided to flesh this out after our last post’s success.
#1 Make Eye Contact
Be a roving Bartender and keep a wary eye. Greet all guests with a smile and eye contact as they arrive at the bar. On a quiet night there is no excuse for not providing a speedy service, but on a busy night if you can’t take care of a guest immediately, acknowledge them and indicate you will take care of them shortly. Even if you’re very busy, SMILE, make eye contact, nod your head. Human beings are insecure creatures. We all like to be smiled at.
#2 Offer a Cocktail Menu
Greet all guests and offer them a cocktail menu as soon as they arrive.
#3 Put Down Beverage Napkins (Beer Mats)
Put a bevnap in front of the customer you are serving, and those you know you will serve immediately afterwards. The bevnap in front of the customer tells other Bartenders that that particular guest is being looked after. It also makes customers feel acknowledged. It saves a Bartender asking ten people in a row, “have you been served?” because a bevnap was not placed in the first instant. If the bevnap’s gone when you come to put down drinks, replace it with another one.
#4 Offer a Sincere Greeting
As a Bartender dealing with a guest you have never met before, you must never appear surly or agitated, no matter what has happened in your personal life. A sincere hello must always be offered, remember: the money the customer spends pays your wage.
#5 Make Sure You Know Everything
You are only as good as what you know. Every bar offers products and talents which are unavailable in most other places. Know all the products that you stock. Understand what the differences between products and techniques are. Learn all new products as they arrive. Be complete on your cocktail knowledge. Train yourself continually. Be motivated.
#6 Up sell Knowledgeably
Offer customers alternatives. If you’re knowledgeable, it won’t sound like you’re up-selling. (‘Have you tried Blanton’s, it’s a rich single barrel bourbon’, etc). Knowledge when up-selling makes the customer trust your judgement, and more willing to be up-sold to.
#7 Be Efficient
Whether it be for drinks, service or acknowledgement, efficiency is key. Never slow down a drinks preparation by carrying on a conversation with a colleague. Get your priorities straight: take the order, make the drinks then sell the drinks. Remember you have two hands (and forearms). Make drinks in front of the guest whenever possible.
#8 Be Organised
Continuously going back to a guest to re-check an order is highly inefficient. No-one expects you to remember dozens of orders. But you should be able to handle two different orders for mixed drinks. As you are waiting for a customer to hand over their card or pay, look up and ask the next guest what their order is. Organisation is the keyword.
#9 Be Technically Proficient
Be professional and technically perfect. Work on your methods. Get your pouring exactly right. Understand how to shake drinks, how to stir, how to serve. You are a professional firstly and a showman secondly.
Certain drinks deteriorate the longer you leave them standing, it is therefore imperative that you organise multiple orders in a systematic way. The long ice filled drinks first, the shorter drinks next, and the martinis last. A long drink can sit at the bar for longer before it is unservable than a martini, which begins to warm immediately.
#11 Secure Payment Immediately
Secure the payment as soon as possible. It is perfectly polite to ask, ‘Will you be running a tab?’, and if the answer is no, hand over the bill.
#12 Check back on the guest and talk
Are their glasses getting empty? Do they want another drink? How did they like your recommendation? They will be pleasantly surprised. Create a friendly atmosphere, talk to the guests. Talk to them about drinks. Keep an eye on their drinks. Friendliness and conversation are welcome from a Bartender, but avoid long, involved conversations with guests that may interfere with service to other guests.
#13 Be thoughtful and proactive
Look after customers who have little spillages. If someone is looking around obviously, find out if they are looking for the loos and point them out. Pour wine or Champagne ordered by the bottle; don’t let customers pull wet bottles out of their ice bucket, covering the bar and themselves with water.
#14 Offer food
Know what’s on the food menu. Up-sell food, that’s what the food menu is there for. Use it. A bar is most often than not just a place to drink in. People will be able to drink more once they have eaten something.
#15 Be Clean
Constantly check up on the state of the bar area. Check for spillages, dirty ashtrays outside, coasters, straws, napkins, empty beer bottles etc. No customer wants to put their elbows into a patch of spilt beer. Take away empty bottles and wipe at the same time. No more than one cigarette butt in an ashtray. Build it into your bartending behaviour; clean the bar top at every available opportunity.
#16 Work as a team
Your bar team is more than just a collection of individuals. It is essential all bartenders, bar backs and floor tenders work as a team to provide an all-round service to the customer. It is pointless a bartender creating the most amazing looking and tasting cocktails if the customer then has to go and sit at a wet table with empty glasses on it.
#17 Offer a sincere farewell
“Cheers, thanks!” Even if you’ve been busy and they don’t hear, someone else will. It’s the last thing they should remember about the bar they were in, and they will remember it was a friendly place.
#18 Be as well presented as your drinks
Be clean. Look clean. Clean your fingernails. Guests don’t want orange peel flamed by someone with gunge under their nails. Pay attention to yourself.
#19 Don’t serve the drunk, unruly or underage
If a guest is unruly or highly intoxicated, either upon entering the room or during the course of the evening, indicate this to your manager before offering an additional beverage service. Do not serve alcohol to persons under the legal age. If you believe that a guest may not be old enough to drink, ask for identification.
#20 Be helpful, be cool, take pride in who you are
You are here to turn difficult guests into friends, to make great drinks, to help people have a good time and even on occasion to teach people how to have a good time. Take pride in who you are and what you know.
So what do you guys think? let us know below
Originally published at www.beabetterbartender.com on June 25, 2014.