Cocktail Recipes > Bartenders Guide > Top Ten Tips for the Professional Bartender

Top Ten Tips for the Professional Bartender


Bartenders or "mixologists" just don't get enough credit. People seem to think that anyone can mix a quality cocktail. They usually only realize the difference between a beer-tender and bartender when they receive a truly horrible drink. Those who imbibe and enjoy finer beverages tend to be a bit more appreciative.

Here are ten tips that will help anyone become a more professional bartender (in no particular order):

1. Always keep your bar surface, stools, glasses, serving station, and preparation area spotless. People do not want to pay top dollar for cocktails that are prepared sloppily or in a dirty area. Sitting on a dirty stool or placing belongings on a sticky surface as one sits down is also offensive. An immaculate bar with shiny glasses and bottles is as important as the quality of your products and the skill with which you prepare cocktails.

2. Make sure that you garnish cocktails properly. If you are unsure of appropriate garnishes, pick up bartending book. It pays to know as much as possible about your trade, and it also translates into better tips.

3. Never tell a customer that you can make a particular cocktail that he requests if you aren't sure you can make it properly. Ask the guest to give you a moment then go look it up (or ask another bartender) to make sure you prepare it correctly. It pays to keep a bartending book handy for such occasions.

4. Make sure your garnishes are fresh. Nothing ruins a perfectly good cocktail faster than a wilted lemon wedge or a wrinkled olive. Take the time to cut fresh fruit and twists and keep garnishes chilled. If you store olives in a bit of olive juice, they will stay fresher longer.

5. Know your customers. If you serve a customer regularly, you should be able to remember what he or she orders. Greet the guest and offer his or her usual cocktail, mixing it precisely. Also, remember if the guest prefers onions over olives or a twist instead of a wedge, and if there are any other special touches, such as a splash of soda, or just one ice cube. People enjoy being recognized and pampered.

6. If a good customer asks for a particular item on more than one occasion and you don't have it in stock, see if you can order a bottle to keep on hand for that customer, even if it isn't something you serve regularly. Surprise the guest with it on his next visit.

7. If you bartend in the lounge of a restaurant, pay attention to guests seated at the tables. If the wait staff is busy, you should certainly check on guests and freshen their cocktails while they wait for their server. Doing so reflects well on your establishment and your professionalism. It also generally translates into more and better tips.

8. Do not assume that the customer wants a "well" drink simply because he or she does not specify a brand. Always inquire, or recommend a good product. This is especially important when you are serving affluent guests.

9. If you are required to wear a uniform, make sure it is clean and pressed. You should be well groomed and always look your best. If you don't wear a uniform, dress in tasteful, professional attire. Do not overdo jewelry, fragrance, or makeup.

10. Be courteous and friendly at all times. You'll find that most people will respond in kind. If guests behave rudely, take the high road and remember that they are only making themselves look bad. You will be respected by those whose opinions actually matter.