Throughout most of the world, bartenders have been romanticized as cocktail magicians. Bartending is formulaic. Bartenders are performers and need to mix cocktails while entertaining their guests. Experienced bar chefs stretch the imagination with concoctions of liquids they likely are only in the know of. Just like everyone, they started at one point with zero knowledge. To learn how to bartend takes time and some serious interest in cocktailing.
Perfecting a Skill Takes Time
They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice at anything to become a master. Anyone can pick up a guitar and pluck a couple strings… which technically makes them a guitar player. It takes years of practice to become great though (and a bit of talent does help). We know bartenders that started by getting behind the bar and figuring everything out themselves. No teacher, only learning from their mistakes. that’s a really hard way to build a career behind the bar.
Learn A Little Every Day
The one thing you learn as you get older is that there is so much more to learn! No one knows everything about a subject. Experts are very focused on a small aspect of knowledge, but will know very little on other topics even closely related. Experienced mixologists will also say that to learn how to bartend is easy. Becoming a master at the craft is a lifelong adventure. A great bartender needs to be a bit of a generalist. They need to know the essential differences between different spirits and liqueurs. Knowing the effect on a cocktail when using inexpensive cocktail mixes versus fresh juices is also necessary. Knowledge and experience are what bring those elements together into the fantastic cocktails we see around the world.
Find A Topic that Fascinates You
It really takes a while to understand all the intricacies of whiskies around the world. Everything from grain to glass has history and regulations that ensure each bottle you get is exactly what the producer intended. The same goes for gin, vodka, tequila, rum, brandy and even each of those artificially coloured liqueurs prominently displayed on the back bar. Each producer has put countless hours into creating their unique spirit or liqueur. A person could really spend weeks diving into the story behind creme de banane. Always ask questions! What are the differences between different producers? How much of the sweet liqueur is sold each year and which countries buy it? What is the difference between Triple Sec and Cointreau?
Even when we started down the long road to learn how to bartend, we thought it would be easy. It is simple to get going, but the amount of accumulated knowledge we have gained over the years is really what authors leverage for their book writing. We at StartBartending.com can’t get into that kind of nitty gritty. We do encourage everyone to find a few different topics that we discuss throughout the course to start becoming ‘experts’ on though.
A Great Bartender Always Learns
It’s easy to fall into the same old patterns every day. A job doesn’t have to be just a boring and repetitive experience. Some of the most boring bartending jobs are in high energy night clubs. In these venues it’s a whole lot of the same simple drinks being ordered over and over… and over again. Prague has even installed robot bartenders to deal with these mundane tasks. As a bartender though you can be creative. You can learn new things all the time. You can learn from both your coworkers and your customers. Robots are robots, and are really good at doing the unfun part of bartending. They might look cool doing it, but outside of their standard routines they aren’t much good for making any kind of custom drink. Stay ahead of the robots by experimenting and creating. Keep on learning!