Bartending ... anyone do it? How'd you start?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 13, 2009 7:15 AM GMT
    Just a curious shot in the dark:

    I'm trying to get into bartending (laid off my job, always considered it, need a way to pay for college, blah blah blah) and I'm wondering about how to start. Just completed a bartending course (I know there's a stigma, but it did help me) but I'm trying to figure the best way to go about getting in, and learn from everyone's else's stories.

    So .... anyone?

    -Sean
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    Feb 13, 2009 8:33 AM GMT
    I took a bartending course years ago but never used it. Make sure you are certified to sell alcohol. Look in the newspaper and internet searches under hospitality. I never heard of a stigma with the courses.

    Good luck.
  • ajlclimber

    Posts: 337

    Feb 13, 2009 8:59 AM GMT
    craigslist, checking in at all the bars in your area, and don't be afraid of starting as a bar back. club owners are usually very weary of people with no actual bar experience. most restaurants only hire bartenders out of their wait staff.
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Feb 13, 2009 10:17 AM GMT
    A friend of mine became a bartender years ago. He had to take a class and then he just went to various establishments and applied. He was a very good bartender. He could really interact with people! Good luck Turtle!!icon_biggrin.gif
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    Feb 13, 2009 11:37 AM GMT
    ppl tell me i'd make a great bartender...whats that supposed to mean?
  • jc_online

    Posts: 487

    Feb 13, 2009 11:43 AM GMT
    Sometimes working for a catering company is a good start - you can help the bartender set up and keep stopping back to make sure she/he has the supplies they need. The catering managers will notice and when they need a fill in you can volunteer "I've never doneit, but I didhave a course and I have been helping"...something like that. Of course that means you'll have to be a cter waiter in the mean time. Or you may get lucky and they might need a bartender at the time you apply and because of your training they'll hire you as a bartender. This is not the big money job, but it doesn't suck, either.

    I started with TGIFridays - it was a great training and it was the big money - I had been a waiter for over 3 years before they let me train for the bar.

    If you want to work in a bar or night club, starting as a barback is a good way to go. I suggest a wearing a tight shirt when you go to apply - straight or gay clubs - bartenders are usually the pretty people - put what you've got to your advantage.

    If all else fails, do your Peanut Butter Jelly Time Dance - who could resist it??!! Good luck bud.
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    Feb 13, 2009 2:34 PM GMT
    I'm no bartender but this book may help

    bar_books1.jpg

    Got pretty pictures for each of the 2,250 drinks icon_cool.gif

  • Feb 13, 2009 2:36 PM GMT
    Hey dude, I bartend at a bar here in San Antonio called the Pegasus, it’s a pretty decent job. I understand the stigma about the course, just know it really did help, now I see other guys training and they are so slow, and really don’t even get to a certain level as the rest, as for me the boss even said he believed it wasn’t a waste because training me was easier than anyone else since I had knowledge.

    I did apply to many places and I just turned down because of skill, I had employers say they wanted someone already skilled. They basically made it sound like I was ignorant, but did give me advice about getting a job; they said I looked the part but if I could start at a small bar and then come back. Well then I applied at the Pegasus, they told me they needed someone that night if I was available, well long story short, screw the other bar, I have been with the Pegasus for close to a year and love it, my income is surprisingly amazing even in a small bar.

    Decide where you want to work, if it’s a gay scene then dress that part when you apply. If you are considering a fancy restaurant, then you should probably be really dressed up. Think what will make you comfortable, if you don’t like people hitting on you and grabbing you, then a gay bar is totally not for you, but be advised gay bar bartenders make so much more than straight, most damn straight people do not tip. I have a boyfriend (wait till you get the stigma, "I can’t date a bartender) but we have an understanding, when I work, I'm single, then he knows who I come home too you will see bartending is really rough on a relationship unless you have mutual trust. Guys go after guys who are single, if you’re not on the market they look for the guy who is. Never give your number out, your working....not working it, lol. Plus you get so many freaks, I made a bad decision and told somebody I get out at 4 thinking they would leave, they waited and I had to have the manager walk me to my car.

    If you need any drink recipe or any other info feel free to email me man,

    ~RyMi
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    Feb 13, 2009 4:04 PM GMT
    Thanks for the tips, Ryan! Dharnan graduated from a similar bartending school as me. He's been saying similar things.

    Looked at the website - Pegasus looks pretty cool and fairly busy! Here's my concern: I'm fairly smart and have a good memory, but I have terrible worries about those first few nights (especially at a busy bar) of getting deer in the headlights and forgetting the drink, forgetting to get enough ice, forgetting to make sure the beer tap is ok, etc. ... you know, the stuff an experienced bartender would never worry about. Am I being over anxious? How long did it take you?
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    Feb 13, 2009 4:23 PM GMT
    Good luck!
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    Feb 13, 2009 4:28 PM GMT
    TheIStrat saidGood luck!


    Thanks buddy!
  • styrgan

    Posts: 2017

    Feb 13, 2009 4:29 PM GMT
    I actually started off when I was waiting tables at a resturant in college. The manager liked me, and when one of the bartenders couldn't do Sundays anymore, he offered to train me. I actually never took a class or anything. Although in many states, you're "required" to.
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    Feb 13, 2009 4:40 PM GMT
    It all depends on where you want to tend bar. I have tended bar in gay clubs where all I needed to get in the door was a few connections. If you are willing to barback for a while, you are much more likely to get a bartending gig than someone just walking through the door. If you want to tend bar in a restaurant or cocktail bar you will need some experience before they let you anywhere near their bar and bartending school doesn't count.

    What kind of bar do you want to work at? In a gay bar you can get a job not knowing how to mix even the most basic of drinks as long as you are willing to show some skin. If you want to work in a neighborhood beer-hall sort of establishment your lack if experience shouldn't be a problem as long as you have a connection or two. Restaurants would love to see any additional food service experience on your resume.

    Tending bar can be a fun job. But it can also be excruciating. Nights where the place is packed and you mix like a madman for eight hours straight and the tip jar overflows. Then the nights where rent is due tomorrow, you are a hundred short and the only guys in the bar are the regular drunks who tip a dollar every fifth drink.

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    Feb 13, 2009 4:45 PM GMT
    turtlesarecool saidThanks for the tips, Ryan! Dharnan graduated from a similar bartending school as me. He's been saying similar things.

    Looked at the website - Pegasus looks pretty cool and fairly busy! Here's my concern: I'm fairly smart and have a good memory, but I have terrible worries about those first few nights (especially at a busy bar) of getting deer in the headlights and forgetting the drink, forgetting to get enough ice, forgetting to make sure the beer tap is ok, etc. ... you know, the stuff an experienced bartender would never worry about. Am I being over anxious? How long did it take you?


    99% of drinkers have no idea what to drink. They drink rum and cokes, whiskey sours, and the occasional intrepid soul will as for a vodka martini (barf). You can get by knowing about a dozen drinks and if you forget one don't be afraid to look it up or ask. If you have never heard of it, don't be afraid to ask the customer. People come into bars not just for a drink. They want a little conversation, a little flirtation, a little fantasy. Chatting with them about how to make a drink is a great way to make them comfortable with you. Just don't not know how to make it the next time they come in. icon_biggrin.gif