How to Become a Bartender
Are you a night owl? If you start to wake up when the sun goes down, you might be well-suited to a bartending career. Ahead of polishing off your bartending resume, you’re going to need to know what to expect. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this fast-paced and sociable career path.
What does a bartender do?
First things first, let’s talk about what a bartender does. Whenever you head to a restaurant, café, pub, or bar, this is the person standing behind the bar ready to serve up your favourite tipple. Bartenders will take drink orders and serve alcohol to thirsty customers. They have additional duties, such as cleaning and restocking.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. When you start your bartending career, you will find that there are countless options out there. For example, if you want to become a mixologist at a cocktail bar, you will need to learn how to mix drinks and have a broad knowledge of how to make a wide variety of drinks. Knowing how to whip up an Old Fashioned in a matter of minutes is just one of many tricks you’ll need in your arsenal.
The average bartender knows how to work hard and give the customer what they need. However, a good bartender knows how to make the customer feel special. That means taking the time to chat with people who come into the pub or bar. A little bit of charisma goes a long way in this role.
How much does a bartender earn?
Next up, let’s talk about money. For someone starting out or working at a lower end pub or bar, you can expect a wage of around £14,000 a year. However, as you work your way up in this career, you may find that your wage increases too and could rise to £22,000 or more. Similarly, if you work in different parts of the country, you may find that you can make more money and find more opportunities for higher-end bars in nightlife hotspots, such as London or Manchester. Of course, you can also use your skills abroad, which opens up the chance to pursue roles in countries with higher wage averages than the UK.
However, like many jobs within the hospitality industry, there’s a chance to make some extra cash here. One of the best things about this type of role is the tips. Land a bartending job in a popular pub or restaurant, and you might find that you get some impressive tips every shift. It’s always best to check how tips are split up, though, as this can vary.
What skills are needed to become a bartender?
Looking to jump headfirst into your bartending career? You may be wondering what skills a good bartender should bring to the table. Here are some of the traits you will need to succeed.
Bar staff need to be highly organised. When you’re working in a busy venue, you will need to remember a ton of things at once. For example, you may need to mix drinks, pick up glasses, and deal with any complaints. If you’re the type of person who finds it easy to organise your time and prioritise tasks, you’ll do well.
A hard-working attitude
Being on your feet for hours and hours is anything but easy. When you start a bartender job, you will soon learn that you need high energy levels. Often enough, this shift work requires you to have late nights and work long hours. That means that it’s not for everyone out there. It can be a job that requires more hard work than other roles.
Remembering drinks orders is one of the essential skills that all bartenders need. When the bar gets busy, you will find that customers reel off their order in seconds and will expect you to keep up. If you have just started your job training, you may find this aspect of the role challenging, but you can practice training your memory skills at home or initially ask for shifts outside of peak hours.
Working in a bar isn’t merely about getting the drinks orders right. Many pubs and bars pride themselves on providing their customers with a welcoming and friendly experience. When it comes to landing a bartending job, you should never overlook these soft skills.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of bartending is making sure customers are of the legal drinking age. In the UK, bars and restaurants are required to use the Challenge 25 system. That means deciding whether customers look 25 years old, not 18 years old, as some people below the age of 18 can appear to be much older than they are. If they look younger than 25, you should ask them to show a valid form of ID. Bartenders may be expected to spot and report false IDs, as serving an underage customer can result in fines for both the staff that served the alcohol and the establishment.
Skills in numeracy
Although many establishments have tills that include calculators, having a relatively good level of numeracy can be good to have when making fast decisions or counting change. Giving a customer the wrong amount of change can leave a bad impression, so having decent skills within maths should make this situation less likely.
Do bartenders need any work experience?
If you’re keen to start your bartending career as long as you are over the age of 18, you can start applying for these roles. Often enough, bars and restaurants will favour candidates with previous experience. However, everyone has to start somewhere. It’s worth looking around to find any places that are taking newcomers or offer on-the-job training.
When you have got your foot in the door, there are plenty of ways to make it as a successful bartender. You can boost your skill set by learning how to change kegs or by enhancing your customer service skills. If you choose to work in a cocktail bar, you can learn more complex cocktails or even try your hand at making your own signature drink. For example, you will have to get to grips with the most popular drinks and the garnishes that go with each of them
Career prospects in bartending
So, what about your long-term career prospects? When you’re a bartender, you can work your way up to become a bar manager. However, there are many ways that you can boost your chances. You may want to attend bartending school, take a bartending course, or even get your bartending licence. Long-term, you can even consider becoming a publican or starting up your own establishment if you feel that you have enough experience. Degrees in Business Management can be useful for anyone looking to run their own business.
If you’re up for some hard work and late nights, bartending is the way to go. Now that you understand the basics of this role, why not start looking into it? Many places will offer job training when you get started, which means that you should have no problem learning the ropes. Get out there and get making drinks!
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