Monday, July 07, 2008

Aspiring Bartenders

Wanted to post a great e-mail I got today along with my response. I hope it's helpful to other aspiring bartenders out there:


Hello Anthony,
My name is Ishi.

I am SERIOUSLY considering bartending as a career or at least a hobby. However I am only 14 years old therefore legally I can only sit back and watch your Art of the Drink podcasts and cant get in on the action until 21.

First off I went to [a bar school web site and] I don't know if I can trust their claim about turning someone pro in 1-2 weeks.

I watched one of their videos and they made their Zombie quite a bit differently. They also said it was one of the best tasting ones...What is your opinion on that?

Also, any pointers you can give me for later on?

Thank you,


Thanks for writing! I think you have some great times ahead of you if you choose to pursue your interest in bartending! Also, keep in mind that in many states you can actually start bartending when you're 18 as long as you're under the direct supervision of someone who's 21 or over -- check your state liquor laws. I'd highly recommend that you get a serving job (waiter) as soon as possible, as that's the best and fastest way to get behind the bar -- I always promote my best servers to bartenders, and almost everyone else does as well. Steer clear of bartending schools -- they make the owners lots of money, but usually don't do much for the students. Again, the best servers get the bartending jobs.

Barbacking is also a great way to get some experience and get in line for a bartending job, but many bars don't use barbacks and the positions can be tough to get because they're more scarce. Be sure to keep learning from all the great free resources on the web (like Art of the Drink!), read books, and watch the bar when you're in restaurants. One of the things you'll find is that there are often as many recipes for a drink as there are bartenders making it, and everyone will tell you theirs tastes best. The key is to watch for correct preparation and technique -- you'll learn to tell the pros from the joes pretty quickly. Remember, bartending is more than just sloshing liquor into glasses -- we need more educated bartenders who really love what they do. Help me spread that philosophy, and I'm sure you'll do great!

Thanks again!


Quick clarification on the above: Don't confuse bartending schools with Safe Alcohol Service classes (like ServSafe and TIPs). I can't recommend the latter highly enough, but they don't get into bartending techniques or recipes at all.

No comments: