Bartending: Not a “How-To,” but This Will Help

Photo by Oliver Frsh
Photo by Oliver Frsh

Published: June 18, 2020  | Edited: Nov. 12, 2020

As our environment creeps back to a new normal, we’re also creeping back to work. Perhaps a bit hesitantly, we slip our real pants back on, fasten our bras, and head into the office. Well, if I were going back to work, my office would be behind the bar. 

I’ve brainstormed some handy tips for you, from years of accruing knowledge in Bartending Land, to learn before you head back to work to make up for lost monies! With these helpful hints and bartending tips, you’ll make sexier drinks (that are Instaworthy) and learn a trick that I used to get the best shifts. 

Grab a drink and take just a few moments to do some industry research to step up your bartending game.

  • Use Fresh Rocks
  • Grab Sexy Fruit
  • Watch Out for Brown Drinks
  • Establish Trust for Better Shifts & Perks
  • Bonus Tip for Late-Runners

How To Make Sexy Drinks

Pouring a drink that guests want to take a photo of takes more than just following a build and making it taste good. You’ll want to appeal to all their senses, including sight. Set your guests up for an experience when you’re their bartender.

Always Pour Over Fresh Rocks

This first tip is a bartending trick I learned from a corporate trainer when I helped open a new hotel that adorned a little bistro: If the drink you’re making is on the rocks, always pour the drink over fresh rocks. After you’re through shaking the margarita, don’t dump the entire contents of the shaker (unless the specific recipe calls for it) into a glass. Fill your glassware with beautiful, fresh rocks, then strain the margarita over those gorgeous rocks. If the ice melts more than 75% before you strain the drink in it, throw a few extra pieces in it to make it look delicious and drinkable.

Next time you go out (if your state lets you!), pay attention to the drinks coming out of the bar. Find what I call a sad drink with sad ice, then find one that is poured over fresh ice. You’ll see the difference in presentation right away. Alternatively, you could get yourself a little tipsy and try this experiment at home. Take a picture of your drinks and compare sad ice to sexy ice.

Photo by Jakub Dziubak

Bonus: If you have creative coasters that are worthy of sharing, set your drinks strategically on the drink coaster to create an instant IG shot. Ask your patron to tag your bartending account if you see them snappin’ a pic!

Grab Sexy Fruit

Just as important as sexy ice are sexy garnishes. If you open the bar and cut the fruit, cut sexy garnishes! Don’t grab brown limes; no one wants that in their drink. Such attention to detail will result in more money in your pocket, I promise. People pay for that value, so don’t ignore it! Further, don’t grab your garnishes with your bare hands, just saying. In fact, I’ve been tipped more just for not using my bare hands to grab them. Use bar tongs or just glove up, baby.

Other than choosing good-looking and undamaged fruit, research creative garnishes. I’ve seen some of the best bartenders smoking oil from orange peels to create a burnt look and smoky taste in the drink. A bartender I worked with, Kirby, always presented the drink first, then burnt the orange peel in front of the guest. Remember, you’re creating an experience! I’ve also seen bartenders cut orange rinds into middle finger poses. There is no limit to creating sexy garnishes. 

Avoid Serving Brown Drinks (Unless It’s Straight Whiskey, Rum, or Tequila)

Hey, if you didn’t know this, let me be the first to tell you. People don’t like brown drinks that look like their toilet in the mornings, okay? If you have a fantastic tasting coffee rum drink that is looking a little shitty (pun 100% intended), try adding some cream to it or just throw it in a glass that conceals the contents. The cream lightens it to a tan color, and obviously a coffee cup or copper mug will hide the not-so-pleasant color.

Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez

Establish Trust With Coworkers and Managers

This one is a bit out there in concept but this method helped my managers and other bartenders and as a result, I started getting the shifts I wanted and more of them. 

When I first started stepping behind the bar, I also still had a few shifts on the floor as a server. They started me off on slow nights but it didn’t last for long. 

Since I had more time, my closing shifts were the cleanest you’d ever see. They were known as a “Carrie Closes” Every grate was shiny and clean. Trash bins empty and back in their spots ready for the morning shift. Flatware and lunch plates stocked to the max. My prep was done. And the floors were perfection and sans dirty footprints. 

Clean and stocked closes were a measure of my success. The veteran lunch bartender would come in after my close, find nothing wrong, and then tell the general manager how strong of a bartender I was, without even seeing my work or tasting my drinks.

After that, I started to be scheduled as a bartender more often than a server. The other bartenders liked working with me because they knew they could trust me. The result was that I had more people to take care of, and we all know that means more money in the apron.

Bonus Tip for Those Who Are Always Late

There are always bartenders who run a bit behind. We know them, and we love them. If this is you, heed my warning: your manager and team will either hate you or love you for this. To make them love you, do this simple thing. If you have only ten or so minutes to set the bar up, grab the items you know you need. Don’t make another person, like your supervisor, have to set your bar up for you.

First, grab that ice! You’ll start to get tickets or people at the bar before you know it, and your opportunity to grab ice from the back will diminish every minute. Before you even walk by the machine, grab at least one bucket of ice to get you going. Next, grab your tins, muddler, bar spoon, garnishes, and whatever other popular items you use for that shift. Once the rush slows down, you can finish setting up the bar during downtime. 

Use My Tricks To Make More Money

So that’s it, my bartender friends. Those are my little bartending tips to get a few more bucks into your pocko! Make your drinks sexy with beautiful fresh ice and juicy garnishes. Establish trust with your peers by setting them up for success and clean closes. Don’t be a late asshole who needs help setting up the bar! And above all, don’t serve drinks that look like a backed-up toilet.

If you thought these were useful, please share this link! Comment below, as usual, with any other tips that help you behind the bar!

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