Thursday, December 28, 2006

How to Get a Bartending Job

Bartending positions are highly desirable and equally hard to get. The job itself is fairly simple, but getting one's foot in the door is not. Here's some tips to help you score one of these fun, lucrative jobs.


1. It's all about who you know. If you have a favorite watering hole, find out who the owner is and start talking him/her up. Befriend the bartenders, barbacks, and cocktail waitresses, and let them know you're looking for a bartending job. Tip well, go often, and generally be a happy, useful presence at the bar.

2. Observe bartenders in action. There are little tricks to pouring a good beer, mixing drinks, and saving time behind the bar. Watch how your mixer handles drink orders. Most of it is not rocket science; the most commonly ordered drinks are liquor plus a mixer. Buy drink manuals to learn about the more complex drinks and practice at home.

3. Don't waste your time and money going to bartending school. It costs about $500 and you learn by mixing colored water, not actual alcohol. They teach you outdated drinks like "grasshoppers" that no one orders anymore, and most will claim to help you find a job. These "job leads" are generally terrible dives you wouldn't want to work at anyway. Most real bars will laugh at someone with a bartending school diploma and no actual work experience.

4. Dress the part. If you want a gig at a fancy restaurant, dress professionally. If you want a job at a hip club, dress edgy. If a dive bar gig is fine by you, dress tough. Most bars are going for a certain look or image, whether they tell you that or not.

5. Look for charity guest bartending gigs. Many big cities are now offering this option. You pick a charity, promote the event, and bring your friends in. In exchange, you and a couple friends get trained for the evening and get to mix drinks all night. It's a great way to get some experience and make contacts. If you impress the bar owner, it could lead to a job.


o Catering companies are a good place to start. They are easier jobs to get, if you can b.s. a little bit, and you will learn a lot by doing basic drinks and pouring wine and beer.