Bartending How To: 5 Tips To Be A Great Bartender

Bartending is one of the oldest professions in the world, and like most professions, it is filled with all levels of performers. There are great bartenders, and those that are, well, less than great. Perhaps the most interesting part of this equation is the difference between a top notch and substandard bartender is very controlable. That is to say, it’s entirely upon the bartender whether they’re good at what they do … or not.

If you’re a bartender, the good news is this – most factors that will net you those big tips are learned behaviors. It might take a little work, but the effort is miniscule compared to facing another shift with angry customers and substandard gratuities. So with that said, let’s look at five simple strategies to help you rise to the top of the bartending profession:

Tip #1: Pick The Best Environment

This is where it all starts. You’ll need to look inward and ask yourself a few hard questions. Is your bar suited to your personality? Would you be a regular at your bar? Is it an environment you enjoy? While these questions might sound simplistic, let’s face facts. You can only truly excel doing what you enjoy. Get into a bar environment where you feel comfortable. If that’s a quieter place because you’re a quieter person, great! You’ll perform better, and your income will likely rise.

Tip #2: Have A Sense Of Self

It’s important for you to dress the part and fit into your surroundings. But make sure you’re clean, neat, groomed, and attractive as possible. That probably doesn’t mean micro mini skirts or Chippendale outfits, but take care of your personal appearance and try to not to come on shift at less than your best. Attractive bartenders tend to draw better crowds, all other factors being equal.

Tip #3: Stay Current

Many people come to the bar to converse. And while you’re not always going to have time to chat up the crowd, you never know when you can make a connection by simply staying abreast of current events. All it takes is 10-15 minutes per day reading a newspaper, checking the internet, or tuning in the radio. Regulars in particular will value your interest in topics near and dear to their heart.

Tip #4: Be Accessible

If the bar is slow, you’ll have a bit of time to converse. Read your customers and determine if they want to talk. Their body language will tell you. If they want to open up and chat, be there for them. Don’t sit in the corner with a crossword puzzle or some other diversion. Take every chance you get to develop that next consistent regular you can count on.

Tip #5: Keep An Even Keel

This applies to your actual shifts and behind the scenes. There will always be something that goes wrong on just about every shift, whether it’s a stocking problem or some unforeseen issue. Keep a cool head and don’t let the customers sense you’re flustered. An in control bartender is an admired bartender. Similarly, cultivate relationships behind the scenes. Your barbacks, servers, and manager can be among your greatest allies.

These are just a few of many tips and strategies to help you excel in the bartending profession. If you consistently follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to doubling your tips in record time.

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