A Message to Bartenders of All Stripes
Since the first edition of The Joy of Mixology
became required reading for bartenders at many craft cocktail bars around the globe, I thought that I'd take this opportunity to address those of you who are new to tending bar, so you'll know what you're getting yourself into.
Many of us find ourselves called behind the bar so we can be a "startender," complete with tattoos, piercings, and hordes of adoring fans who come back night after night to taste our concoctions. I found out quickly that you have a helluva lot of legwork to get through before you even begin to approach that kind of status. Before you gain the fame, you gotta pay your dues. Big time.
If you're new to bartending, be willing to start out as a barback, lugging ice and cases of beer up from the basement, cutting garnishes, polishing bottles, and doing all of the drudge work while others get the big bucks, and walk home with the best-looking girl or guy in the place.
When you finally do get behind the bar, as a bartender or as a barback, your first job is to learn how to watch. Watch the seasoned professionals as they go about their business. Notice how both of their hands are busy at all times. See how they can pour gin with one hand and open a bottle of IPA with the other.
Learn from the pros as they manage the guests at the bar, and listen to their interactions. Learn how to deal with angry customers, how to cope with complaints, how to crack wise, and make people smile as they go about their jobs.
When the time is right, ask questions. Find out why the pros do what they do, how they prioritize when faced with multiple tasks, and how they steer potential troublemakers toward the door without an angry word being spoken.
Most important: LISTEN. We don’t know it all. We'll never know it all. Be prepared to learn something new every day for the rest of your life.
And if you manage to become a full-time bartender, the rest of your life will surely be interesting, to say the least.
With Lotsa Love,
Copyright © 2018 by Gary Regan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.