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Bartending 101

Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I would like to become a bartender in order to make some decent money and pay my bills while I go to school. I was looking online at mixology courses and the majority say it's a 40 hour course, blah, blah- details. Then I noticed that some programs were offered online which would make life alot easier. Has anyone taken online mixology courses? Are they legit programs?:?:

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Brett Ashley on

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    ChanusChanus Harbinger of the Spicy Rooster Apocalypse The Flames of a Thousand Collapsed StarsRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    From my experience in the restaurant industry, a mixology course doesn't really have much bearing on whether or not you get hired as a bartender. Experience and the ability to work under pretty severe conditions (hot, fast-paced, aggressive customers) are more determining factors.

    A mixology course would be good for your personal benefit (knowing how to make drinks), but really people don't order Purple Butt-humpers... they order Cosmopolitans and X and Ys (Gin and Tonics, Bourbon-Gingers)... so paying for a course, to me, would be a waste of money.

    Chanus on
    Allegedly a voice of reason.
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    ChanusChanus Harbinger of the Spicy Rooster Apocalypse The Flames of a Thousand Collapsed StarsRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Er... by "hot, fast-paced, aggressive customers" I mean three separate ideas... not all qualifiers for "customer". =)

    Chanus on
    Allegedly a voice of reason.
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    SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2009
    Mixology classes just prep you for how to make drinks, how to use the tools, measurements, ingredients, etc.

    Sheep on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Also keep in mind that a lot of metropolitan areas have a glut of job-seekers, because everybody thinks "Gee, I'll take a bartending course for $200 and then I can work nights and make bank!"

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    Er... by "hot, fast-paced, aggressive customers" I mean three separate ideas... not all qualifiers for "customer". =)



    Heh. Those I can handle.

    Brett Ashley on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    As a backup bartender for the nicest restaurant in my town I can guarantee you that some mixology course won't help you get a job. You will learn useful information on drinks and service but nothing you will not learn on your own. Usually to become a bartender you need a plethora of previous experience or to work your way into the position at a restaurant/bar. They are sought after positions for a reason. Our bartenders come in after all the other servers, and leave before most of them as well. Opening and closing the bar is significantly easier and you have no other sidework. You can make a load of cash every night if the clientele is right and your bar is busy. However if your bar is dead it can be very unfortunate.

    Shogun on
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    MrMonroeMrMonroe passed out on the floor nowRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that a lot of metropolitan areas have a glut of job-seekers, because everybody thinks "Gee, I'll take a bartending course for $200 and then I can work nights and make bank!"

    and, no offense, but the jobs generally go to the pretty ones

    I swear to god Legolas made me a vodka tonic the other night

    edit - by "no offense" I mean I don't know that you're not pretty, but remember it is often a requirement for the position

    MrMonroe on
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    Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    MrMonroe wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Also keep in mind that a lot of metropolitan areas have a glut of job-seekers, because everybody thinks "Gee, I'll take a bartending course for $200 and then I can work nights and make bank!"

    and, no offense, but the jobs generally go to the pretty ones

    I swear to god Legolas made me a vodka tonic the other night

    edit - by "no offense" I mean I don't know that you're not pretty, but remember it is often a requirement for the position


    It's quite alright. I figured that much. I have big boobs- those should help. Thanks for the advice everyone.

    Brett Ashley on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    DibsDibs Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well I'm aroused.

    The only thing I'd add is to look into any legal requirements. For example, I'm fairly certain in Ontario you need to be smartserve certified. Additionally, a few friends of mine have taken bartending courses and that's helped them get jobs. Not starting on the bar right away though.

    Dibs on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hi.

    Bartender of seven years here.

    Classes and school are a complete waste of money.

    1. They teach you how to do things incorrectly.
    2. Most places will toss your resume if it has any sort of bartending school on it.
    3. They say they'll place you, they generally won't.

    Bartenders are at the top of the pecking order in most places. It is not an entry level position.

    Try to find a job as a barback or start serving somewhere and work your way up. That's the only real way. Unless you're ridiculously good looking and a girl. Then you'll just be a terrible entry level bartender.

    Esh on
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    Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Practice/experience is what makes a good bartender.

    Read up on cocktails, try making a few of the more popular ones. Learn to differentiate between flavours, try making it wrong and see how easy it is to discern the difference. Try with lemon instead of lime. Or fresh ****** instead of bottled.

    Go in, get a job glass collecting or something until you can get a quiet shift learning and training on the Job.


    Oh, and when you shake, make sure you do it hard enough to crack the ice ^_^

    Teslan26 on
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    Hi.

    Bartender of seven years here.

    Classes and school are a complete waste of money.

    1. They teach you how to do things incorrectly.
    2. Most places will toss your resume if it has any sort of bartending school on it.
    3. They say they'll place you, they generally won't.

    Bartenders are at the top of the pecking order in most places. It is not an entry level position.

    Try to find a job as a barback or start serving somewhere and work your way up. That's the only real way. Unless you're ridiculously good looking and a girl. Then you'll just be a terrible entry level bartender.

    I normally despise everything Esh writes with seething fury but this post is absolutely 100% the truth. Especially that last sentence.

    Shogun on
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    SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2009
    And if you make it as a bartender, remember.

    MARTINIS ARE MADE WITH GIN.

    Sheep on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    A lot of drinks follow a very basic formula. There's a little ditty to remember...

    One of sour. Two of sweet. Three of strong. Four of weak.

    Sour = Lemon...Lime...anything bitter.
    Sweet = Sugar, Simple Syrup, Cointreau (Triple Sec)
    Strong = The Booze
    Weak = Soda/Water

    For instance, a Margarita is 1 1/2 oz of Tequila, 1 oz of Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz of lime juice. See how that works?

    A Kamikaze is a Vodka Margarita (add a splash of cranberry and you have a Cosmopolitan). A Sidecar is the same thing except you use Brandy and lemon juice. Daquiris and Lemon Drops are the same thing (2oz booze (Rum/Citron Vodka), 1oz of Lime/Lemon juice, 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup.

    When to stir? When to shake? What garnish to use? All while you have God knows how many people vying for your attention. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.

    Jeffrey Morgenthaler's videos from Imbibe Magazine. Jeffrey is great and a friend of mine. He knows his shit better than anyone I've ever met. I'm lucky that he runs the bar program at one of my favorite places downtown. His blog is also well worth checking out.


    Chris McMillian is amazing. Watch these videos. One of the best.

    The Small Screen Network has some great videos as well. Jamie Boudreau, Robert Hess, etc...All just amazing.

    Esh on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Sheep wrote: »
    And if you make it as a bartender, remember.

    MARTINIS ARE MADE WITH GIN.

    A vodka "martini" is actually called a "Kangaroo".

    Esh on
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    Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    A lot of drinks follow a very basic formula. There's a little ditty to remember...

    One of sour. Two of sweet. Three of strong. Four of weak.

    Sour = Lemon...Lime...anything bitter.
    Sweet = Sugar, Simple Syrup, Cointreau (Triple Sec)
    Strong = The Booze
    Weak = Soda/Water

    For instance, a Margarita is 1 1/2 oz of Tequila, 1 oz of Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz of lime juice. See how that works?

    A Kamikaze is a Vodka Margarita (add a splash of cranberry and you have a Cosmopolitan). A Sidecar is the same thing except you use Brandy and lemon juice. Daquiris and Lemon Drops are the same thing (2oz booze (Rum/Citron Vodka), 1oz of Lime/Lemon juice, 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup.

    When to stir? When to shake? What garnish to use? All while you have God knows how many people vying for your attention. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.

    Jeffrey Morgenthaler's videos from Imbibe Magazine. Jeffrey is great and a friend of mine. He knows his shit better than anyone I've ever met. I'm lucky that he runs the bar program at one of my favorite places downtown. His blog is also well worth checking out.


    Chris McMillian is amazing. Watch these videos. One of the best.

    The Small Screen Network has some great videos as well. Jamie Boudreau, Robert Hess, etc...All just amazing.


    I just took notes. Thanks so much. The four step jingle definitely makes sense. This will help alot!:lol:

    Brett Ashley on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    A lot of drinks follow a very basic formula. There's a little ditty to remember...

    One of sour. Two of sweet. Three of strong. Four of weak.

    Sour = Lemon...Lime...anything bitter.
    Sweet = Sugar, Simple Syrup, Cointreau (Triple Sec)
    Strong = The Booze
    Weak = Soda/Water

    For instance, a Margarita is 1 1/2 oz of Tequila, 1 oz of Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz of lime juice. See how that works?

    A Kamikaze is a Vodka Margarita (add a splash of cranberry and you have a Cosmopolitan). A Sidecar is the same thing except you use Brandy and lemon juice. Daquiris and Lemon Drops are the same thing (2oz booze (Rum/Citron Vodka), 1oz of Lime/Lemon juice, 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup.

    When to stir? When to shake? What garnish to use? All while you have God knows how many people vying for your attention. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.

    Jeffrey Morgenthaler's videos from Imbibe Magazine. Jeffrey is great and a friend of mine. He knows his shit better than anyone I've ever met. I'm lucky that he runs the bar program at one of my favorite places downtown. His blog is also well worth checking out.


    Chris McMillian is amazing. Watch these videos. One of the best.

    The Small Screen Network has some great videos as well. Jamie Boudreau, Robert Hess, etc...All just amazing.


    I just took notes. Thanks so much. The four step jingle definitely makes sense. This will help alot!:lol:

    Honestly, get a serving job. Especially in this economy there's no way you're getting a bartending gig. The place I work was hiring and we got over 200 resumes in an hour after we put up a Craigslist ad. 3/4s of them had experience. You can't fake it either. It'd be like walking into a kitchen never having cooked a thing in your life. I hate when people think bartending is an easy job.

    Esh on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You can watch as many videos and memorize as many recipes as you like. The minute you get a big drink order and have to put it into use it's all going to fly out of your head. I don't even think about what I'm making anymore. My hands just reach for things. Pure instinct.

    Esh on
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    Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    A lot of drinks follow a very basic formula. There's a little ditty to remember...

    One of sour. Two of sweet. Three of strong. Four of weak.

    Sour = Lemon...Lime...anything bitter.
    Sweet = Sugar, Simple Syrup, Cointreau (Triple Sec)
    Strong = The Booze
    Weak = Soda/Water

    For instance, a Margarita is 1 1/2 oz of Tequila, 1 oz of Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz of lime juice. See how that works?

    A Kamikaze is a Vodka Margarita (add a splash of cranberry and you have a Cosmopolitan). A Sidecar is the same thing except you use Brandy and lemon juice. Daquiris and Lemon Drops are the same thing (2oz booze (Rum/Citron Vodka), 1oz of Lime/Lemon juice, 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup.

    When to stir? When to shake? What garnish to use? All while you have God knows how many people vying for your attention. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.

    Jeffrey Morgenthaler's videos from Imbibe Magazine. Jeffrey is great and a friend of mine. He knows his shit better than anyone I've ever met. I'm lucky that he runs the bar program at one of my favorite places downtown. His blog is also well worth checking out.


    Chris McMillian is amazing. Watch these videos. One of the best.

    The Small Screen Network has some great videos as well. Jamie Boudreau, Robert Hess, etc...All just amazing.


    I just took notes. Thanks so much. The four step jingle definitely makes sense. This will help alot!:lol:

    Honestly, get a serving job. Especially in this economy there's no way you're getting a bartending gig. The place I work was hiring and we got over 200 resumes in an hour after we put up a Craigslist ad. 3/4s of them had experience. You can't fake it either. It'd be like walking into a kitchen never having cooked a thing in your life. I hate when people think bartending is an easy job.



    I plan on working my way up. There's not a chance in hell that I would attempt to fake it because I'd be uber embarrassed.

    Brett Ashley on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    I'd Fuck Chuck Lidell UpI'd Fuck Chuck Lidell Up Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    Er... by "hot, fast-paced, aggressive customers" I mean three separate ideas... not all qualifiers for "customer". =)
    (Could also by my ex girlfriend (AM I RIGHT FELLAS))

    seriously though listen to Esh

    I'd Fuck Chuck Lidell Up on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    A lot of drinks follow a very basic formula. There's a little ditty to remember...

    One of sour. Two of sweet. Three of strong. Four of weak.

    Sour = Lemon...Lime...anything bitter.
    Sweet = Sugar, Simple Syrup, Cointreau (Triple Sec)
    Strong = The Booze
    Weak = Soda/Water

    For instance, a Margarita is 1 1/2 oz of Tequila, 1 oz of Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz of lime juice. See how that works?

    A Kamikaze is a Vodka Margarita (add a splash of cranberry and you have a Cosmopolitan). A Sidecar is the same thing except you use Brandy and lemon juice. Daquiris and Lemon Drops are the same thing (2oz booze (Rum/Citron Vodka), 1oz of Lime/Lemon juice, 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup.

    When to stir? When to shake? What garnish to use? All while you have God knows how many people vying for your attention. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.

    Jeffrey Morgenthaler's videos from Imbibe Magazine. Jeffrey is great and a friend of mine. He knows his shit better than anyone I've ever met. I'm lucky that he runs the bar program at one of my favorite places downtown. His blog is also well worth checking out.


    Chris McMillian is amazing. Watch these videos. One of the best.

    The Small Screen Network has some great videos as well. Jamie Boudreau, Robert Hess, etc...All just amazing.


    I just took notes. Thanks so much. The four step jingle definitely makes sense. This will help alot!:lol:

    Honestly, get a serving job. Especially in this economy there's no way you're getting a bartending gig. The place I work was hiring and we got over 200 resumes in an hour after we put up a Craigslist ad. 3/4s of them had experience. You can't fake it either. It'd be like walking into a kitchen never having cooked a thing in your life. I hate when people think bartending is an easy job.



    I plan on working my way up. There's not a chance in hell that I would attempt to fake it because I'd be uber embarrassed.

    Watch and ask a lot of questions. That's the best way.

    Esh on
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    ins0mniacins0mniac Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Anyone can mix a cocktail.

    Not everyone can deal with working in a restaurant/bar, as rules are drastically different than anywhere else.

    And be prepared to kiss your Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights goodbye if you want to make decent money.

    ins0mniac on
    X-Box Live Gamertag: Merciless319
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    ins0mniac wrote: »
    Anyone can mix a cocktail.

    Not everyone can deal with working in a restaurant/bar, as rules are drastically different than anywhere else.

    And be prepared to kiss your Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights goodbye if you want to make decent money.

    Anyone can make a cocktail. Not everyone can make a cocktail properly.

    The rules are the same as any other job. The environment is drastically different.

    And no, you can make decent money any night of the week at a decent place. On my worst nights I never walk with less than a $100. Service industry tend to go out and drink on the nights that everyone else stays in. And service industry tip ridiculously.

    I wish there was more terms for the hierarchy of bartenders. There are definitely many levels of skill. You've got people behind the bar who are no more skilled than the fry guy at McDonalds in relative terms. You've also got bartenders with the ability of master chefs. All bartenders are not created equal. I generally won't order anything more than a spirit neat at most places unless I'm sure the bartender has some idea what he's doing.

    Esh on
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    HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I have three friends who are bartenders and was going to say what Esh said about becoming a server and working your way up. He definately knows what he's talking about here.

    The other plus is that if you know the local bar scene you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a place where you can also make some decent cash while working your way up/getting experience.

    As an aside I actually had one of my friends offer me an opening at the bar she works at filling in for people when they needed to take a night off despite my having no real world serving/bartending experience. I kinda laughed and told her that thre's no way her boss would ever go for that. Then she informed me he'd told her to make the offer. All of this because I'd ended up playing bartender at some house parties they'd thrown (20-30 people) and impressed him. I ended up declining because there's no way I felt I was good enough to actually get the job done in a real bar though. It's definately not an easy job to do.

    HappylilElf on
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    Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Esh wrote: »
    Anyone can make a cocktail. Not everyone can make a cocktail properly.

    The rules are the same as any other job. The environment is drastically different.

    And no, you can make decent money any night of the week at a decent place. On my worst nights I never walk with less than a $100. Service industry tend to go out and drink on the nights that everyone else stays in. And service industry tip ridiculously.

    I wish there was more terms for the hierarchy of bartenders. There are definitely many levels of skill. You've got people behind the bar who are no more skilled than the fry guy at McDonalds in relative terms. You've also got bartenders with the ability of master chefs. All bartenders are not created equal. I generally won't order anything more than a spirit neat at most places unless I'm sure the bartender has some idea what he's doing.

    Exactly that. Cooking well is not simple, and not instant. Cocktails are as demanding as sauces in terms of balance, flavour, etc.

    Teslan26 on
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