Getting a foot into the door of the bar industry takes hard work and motivation. Bartending is a skill-based trade that requires knowledge and personality. The best way to develop the necessary skills to bartend is to create a learning environment that gives paid hands-on experience. Skip the search for an affordable bartending school and discover how to become a bartender with no experience.
Get a bartending license
The first step towards any bartending job is to obtain a bartending license. It is not required by all states, but when competing with other job candidates, having a liquor serving license is an appealing qualification. To pass the course, demonstrate an understanding of state laws, penalties regarding minors, the stages of intoxication, and how to handle disturbances at the bar.
Work as a Barback
Getting hired as a barback requires no experience, just a willingness to work hard. Barbacks are like assistants to bartenders — they take care of the manual work behind the bar such as restocking and cleaning. This is a great way to learn the ins and outs of bartending. Pay attention to brand names of alcohol, familiarize with barware and garnishes, learn bartending terms, and observe how cocktails are made.
Get hired in a restaurant bar
An alternative way to get behind the bar is to work as a server in a restaurant bar. There are often openings at restaurant bars, and most places hire from within. Standing out as a hard worker can result in being promoted as bartender and participating in company-sponsored mixology training.
Restaurant bars have a calmer pace than a traditional lounge, bar, or taproom. A calmer environment is a great chance to learn and practice new skills. However, restaurant bars are not open late into the night and don’t serve as many varied cocktails. This means there is not much chance to experiment.
There are plenty of job sites that advertise for work in the bar and restaurant industry. Get an advantage over other candidates by working with a retained search firm. Gated Talent finds the best candidates for a specific position on behalf of a client. Working with a headhunter can open the door for more job opportunities, and the best part is that candidates do not have to pay for the service. Firms like Gated Talent are a good fit for motivated candidates with a strong skill set and a genuine interest in career advancement.
Find a mentor
Working in a bar is an ideal way to get to know bartenders and find a mentor. Anticipating the needs of a bartender, staying out of the way during busy periods, keeping the bar stocked and clean, and offering to help in any way can impress a bartender. If they feel respected, chances are someone will be willing to take a barback or server under their wings and share knowledge.
Learn how to pour drinks
To make a great cocktail, a bartender has to know how to properly pour balanced drinks. Buy some basic bar tools and start practicing at home. Learn basic cocktail recipes, the difference between ingredients, and how they impact the taste of a drink. Practice various techniques and develop a personal flair that can be applied behind the bar.
A liquor store not only has all the supplies needed to stock a home bar, but they are also a good source of knowledge. Such stores offer a wide range of beer, wine, and spirits from various regions, as well as tasting events and club discounts. Take advantage of what store personnel know about brands and distributors and ask questions. A good bartender knows their alcohol, so start learning the basics at the source.