So you’re learning to bartend or your a novice bartender at a new job.  Congrats!  You’re on your way to making good money and achieving your goals.  But you want to be pro right? (Or at least look like one).  Of course you do.  Looking like a pro will get you better tips and may even lead to a better bartending job.  So here are 10 quick tips on how to “act the part” of a professional bartender.

pro bartender


1.  USE BOTH HANDS. When one hand is doing something, always have the other one doing something else.  If your right hand is pouring vodka, grab the soda gun with the left to add the mixer.  If your right hand is shaking a shot, set up shot glasses with the left.  You get the idea.  This saves time and looks like you know what you’re doing.

2.  KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND FACING OUT.   This may sound like common sense, but all to often, we see bartenders looking down or not paying attention to their surroundings.  When you’re finishing one order, be focused and looking for the next order.  This will make you, and the bar, more money.

3.  DON’T MAKE ONE DRINK AT A TIME.  Get the entire order from the group before you start mixing up the drinks.  It might be the case that everyone in a specific group wants a vodka soda.  If you get all 5 orders at once, you have just saved yourself a lot of time.  This way you can line up 5 cups and bang out all the vodka sodas at once.

4.  PRACTICE HANDLING MONEY.  Every experienced, fast bartender is fast with counting and handling cash.  Get a stack of 100 singles from the bank and practice rifling through them while keeping an accurate count.  This will increase your speed when dealing with cash payments behind the bar.

5.  LEARN HOW TO BACKHAND (REVERSE GRIP) POUR:  This is how most professional bartenders pour.   It is faster, more accurate, and mechanically better for your wrist.  On your own time, fill a liquor bottle with water and practice this until it feels comfortable.  Watch the video below to see proper form.

6.  KEEP YOUR AREA CLEAN.  Nothing looks worse than a sloppy bartender.  When you have downtime throughout the night, clean your bar, your drink rail, and your bar utensils.  This makes your area look more presentable and makes you appear much more professional.

7.  LEAVE ROOM AT THE TOP OF EACH DRINK.  Do not fill your drinks to the brim.  This makes any transport of the drinks result in a spill that get on people’s clothes or, at the very least, on their hands.  Leave about a quarter inch at the top of each drink you pour.

8.  HAVE ALL OF YOUR NECESSARY EQUIPMENT.  You will get behind and in the weeds if you spend 10 minutes looking for a wine key or bottle opener.  Start each shift with all of the things you need for the night.  This usually includes: shakers, a strainer, bottle opener, flashlight, wine key, pens, rubber-bands, etc

9.  KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE YOUR INVENTORY.  Your patrons will not trust your bar expertise if you pronounce Cointreau as “COIN-tri-oo”.  Have a look at this list and practice:


10.  DO NOT GET DRUNK.  This one may also seem like common sense but it is another problem we all see at nightspots: drunk bar staff.  If you need a shot, you can handle a shot, and you’re allowed to take a shot; take one.  But BE PROFESSIONAL.  There is no excuse for drinking to the point where you are messing things up and/or visibly drunk.


Do you know what equipment you need to bartend?

Find them all here.




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