You’ve been giving some serious thought to your dream of being a bartender. We get it – good music on the house, alcohol every night and seeing satisfied customers every time you serve a drink would make anyone consider a job as a bartender. There’s a long gap between expectations and reality though.
Take a look at the list of top 10 things you’re expected to know as a bartender. If you think the job still sounds glamourous at the end of it, then go ahead and learn how to be a bartender. We even made a list of resources that will help you become a bartender for free. Here are 10 important things to know before becoming a bartender.
1 – The Bartender’s Station
Each bar is different from the next one anywhere in the world, or at least they strive to be. Bars may set themselves up differently, some only serve certain liquors, have daily drink specials and certain in-house rules for you to follow. It is important for you to get familiar with your bar’s do’s and dont’s. The area on top of the bar where all of your utensils needed for mixing drinks are kept is known as the bartender’s station. These items may include your shaker, strainer, and jigger. Underneath this, usually you will have a sink and your speed rack.
2 – The Speed Rack
This rack will have liquors that are typically on the less expensive side. The order of the rack usually goes from left to right and has an easy saying to help you remember. “Vikki Gets Really Trashed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.” Each word stands for a liquor: Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec and Whisky – the most used liquors in any bar.
3 – The Back Bar
The back bar, usually shelves on the wall behind the bar, consists of your premium liquors. You will find that some drinks call for a premium brand. You are expected to keep your back bar shiny and clean as it is your customers’ first impression of the bar.
4 – Bar Equipment
A bartender’s kit must have the following at all times. A shaker and cheater (the smaller version of the shaker), a corkscrew (for opening wine bottles) and a jigger, which is used for measuring liquor. They should also have a bar towel, bar spoon, strainer and salt container that’s used to dip glasses in lime juice, salt, and sugar.
5 – Mixes
Usually, a bartender has almost all fruit juices for different types of drinks. Orange, grapefruit, tomato, grenadine, cranberry, lime, pineapple are the most common ones. However, while making any drink if he/she is using sweetened lime juice, they must dilute it first. Half syrup, half water.
6 – Glasses
A bartender should know what type of drink needs to be served in which glass. Like, a shot glass, highball glass, margarita glass, and an Old Fashioned glass are all different from each other and used for serving specific drinks. Read our guide that will take you step by step through the entire process.
7 – Liquors v/s Liqueurs
Yes, if you didn’t know this already then it’s time to learn the difference between the two because they are not the same. Vodka, Whisky, and Scotch are liquors and are colourless and astringent to taste. On the other hand, Liqueurs are usually sweeter and more colourful. These may include triple sec, sloe gin, Kahlua and Midori.
8 – Garnishes
Many may take this lightly but a bartender cannot and should not. Garnishes form an important part of making a cocktail and without garnishing, a cocktail will often seem a bit off. Study your drinks and know the garnishes for a much better presentation. Not to mention the right garnish will help your cocktail stand out and bring in repeat customers, the first sign of your success as a bartender.
9 – Learn about ABV
It is important to know your drink’s alcohol content well. ABV for beer is around 4.5 percent; for wine, 11.6 percent; and for liquor, 37 percent. It may vary though depending on the brand and alcohol on offer. For example, certain breweries are known to brew beer with alcohol content going up to 20 percent.
10 – Know local laws
Since a bartender is always dealing with alcohol, one must always be abreast of the laws associated with it. You should know stuff about taxation, dry days and other establishment laws pertaining to alcohol to ensure smooth operation of the bar in your region. Ensuring your customers have proper identification, knowing when a customer has had enough to drink and understanding tax stamps on liquor bottles is also important to know for any bartender.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. A bartender learns something new with every different drink he creates. Start with knowing about these and then decide if this field is for you.
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Gargi Shanbhag is a polyglot and bibliophile who is always up for discussing regional movies - preferably over many cups of filter kaapi.