People often ask me how to become a bartender. My answer is this: there are many types of bartending jobs, and some types of bartending jobs are harder to get than others. If you’re looking to get a nightclub bartending job (the best bartending gig, in my opinion) you can follow the steps I’ve written here.
But I want to list all the different types of bartending gigs here. One of them might be better suited for you than the others.. or you may be able to use one type as a stepping stone to another.
CATERING/ EVENT BARTENDING
This may be the easiest type of bartending to crack in to. If you live in a major city, there are undoubtedly many catering/ event staffing companies around. Each one of these companies needs bartenders. You can either start with them as a server (which will require little or no experience) or you can embellish your bartending credentials in your interview (you’ve mixed drinks for your friends before right?). Event bartending is usually pretty simple as there will only be a few different drinks offered. Once you start working with one of these companies you will have real bartending experience.. experience you can use to get in to the types of bartending listed below.
In a previous article, I detail how to crack your way in to restaurant bartending (you can read this article here). Restaurant bartenders have their own clients at the bar who will order food and cocktails. These bartenders will also make drinks for the servers’ tables. At the end of the night, the bartender gets tipped out by the wait staff. Depending on the type of restaurant, this can be a relaxed or high intensity atmosphere.
DIVE BAR/ LOCAL BAR BARTENDING
Getting a job at a dive bar or local bar will usually require some previous experience. Many bars are very face paced and require speed, accuracy and knowledge. If your goal to get a job at a bar, it will greatly help to have experience working in a face-paced restaurant first.
Nightclub bartending is typically the most face-paced bartending there is. When you work at a nightclub you need to have “high-volume” bartending experience. That means you need to be fast, accurate, and know your drinks/ shots. Usually nightclubs do not offer complicated specialty drinks because the bartenders make for money for the club with simple drinks (simple drinks = higher volume=higher revenue). Therefore, the drinks are easier to make at nightclubs. However, a successful bartender in this atmosphere needs to have accurate, break-neck speed.
There is also, FLAIR BARTENDING, which is bartending while being a performer as well. This is a very specified type of bartending and is not necessary in most, regular bartending jobs.
To learn the proper way to pronounce bar inventory, click here.
Check out my bartending e-book here.
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