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What You Need to Know to Become a Bartender

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Bartending is no simple profession. Sure, it seems that any guy who can mix a few cocktails can make it as a bartender, but the truth is that bartenders have a lot of expectations from both their employers and their customers. Bartenders have reputations for being not only capable drink makers. They're also considered amateur therapists, entertainers and salesmen. Certain skills are mandatory for successful bartenders.

Function

Bartenders work in bars, restaurants and dance clubs, making cocktails and specialty drinks for customers. It’s imperative that a person in this position understands the recipes for a variety of drinks, both alcoholic and virgin. According to Bartendingbasics.com, bartenders must know how to make, at the least, the following drinks: highballs, martinis, manhattans, cosmopolitans and margaritas.

Sales

Though bartending is not typically viewed as a sales job, selling is an important part of the profession. Though bartenders generally make an hourly wage, they also rely heavily on tips for their income. Not only does their employer expect them to sell additional drinks; the bartender himself wants to increase sales, because more drinks equals more tips.

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School

No specific education is required to become a bartender, but schooling may be useful. For instance, the Professional Bartending School in Arlington, Virginia, teaches students the following subjects: mixology, bar setup, liquor types, customer psychology, industry legalities and much more. This gives students an edge when they start a bartending job, because they will have a strong knowledge base and experience dealing with hypothetical bar situations.

Personality

People interested in bartending should consider their personality traits and their desirable level of social interaction when considering this profession. Bartenders, depending on their location, meet with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people in an evening. The happiness of their customers and their tips depend on the bartender’s ability to have pleasant interactions with patrons. According to an article on Forbes.com, good bartending involves showing personality and being able to interact with all kinds of customers. Bartending is like acting, and bartenders must create a theatrical show for their audience, Forbes.com says.

Types

Though a sociable personality and experience making drinks are important aspects of bartending, different venues have different needs for bartenders. Service bartenders generally work at restaurants, and their main duties involve mixing drinks for servers who are waiting tables. Therefore, they rarely serve customers directly. Nightclub bartenders who deal with high numbers of customers must be quick on their feet and able to multitask, making drinks and talking with patrons. Private bartenders or banquet bartenders usually have a lower-stress environment because a fixed number of guests are at the venue.

About the Author

Based in northern Michigan, J.R. Erickson has been a freelance writer since 2006. She has been published at the White Pine Press, Michigan Nature Association, Life in the USA, Storyhouse.org and The Four Cornered Universe. Erickson holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Michigan State University.

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