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Bartending School


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Any particular reason why you would recommend that class -- Cocktails in the Country?

I too would recommend folks attend Gary's "Cocktails in the Country" course.

***

What you "are" taught, is a better understanding of "Quality" cocktails and bartending. Essentially, all the stuff that a "bartender school" -doesn't- teach you.

Even if you are already a career bartender, I would recommend this course as a fun "refresher". And yes, it is fun.

I haven't been, but I know Gary from a couple of old cocktail forums, and I can only imagine it would be a great experience.

I think (fingers crossed) we'll have Gary and Mardee as Q&A guests sometime in the early spring.

But -- back to the topic. . .

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Beans, thanks for your reply! You seem to be a wealth of knowledge (no sarcasm intended). I believe I've caught a post or two of yours on webtender.

I see your point. But hear me out...

What I essentially meant to say is that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of experience that the server has that a new guy cannot learn. What's stocked/what's not, where things go, how to take out the garbage/wipe the counter. This, and other things, can be learned fairly quickly. No, he won't have the rapport with your existing customers or any other site-specific knowledge, I agree. But nobody seems to make the distinction (when talking about new hires) between skills/knowledge (tangible stuff), vs. just how good of a worker is to begin with. My point is that the reason bars like to hire with experience is not only because they don't have to train (how REALLY bad could the training be? you said five days? maybe a week? two?) them on the specifics, but more so because the experience has said they're a decent empl

Bartending, or any job in the industry, involves a lifestyle choice. A person has to be willing to work nights and weekends; deal with assholes (and wonderful people, as well); show up on time regardless of sickness or hangovers; handle exposure to sex, drugs, cash and vast quantities of alcohol, without screwing up their lives; deal with immense stress; live without sunlight; be willing to be cursed in a variety of languages; and be a reliable, long-term employee.

When an owner is looking to make a hire, they are looking for someone that can get along with people, work in the above conditions, show up for their shifts, not steal, and not leave after three weeks. In addition, in many establishments, bartending is a senior position, given to someone who has earned it through hard work and loyalty to the establishment (ideally, not nearly always).

Sure you can learn to mix drinks and restock the cooler in short order. What you can't do, is demonstrate that you are able and willing to meet the other requirement for the job. If you really want to be a bartender, find a bar, get a job as a waiter and prove to the owner that you are serious about it.

Everyone wants to be a star. Prove that you're willing to work to become one.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Working your way up is the way to do it. In 25 years of bartending and beverage managment i only worked with one guy who went to school and he was great in spite of it. I started out working the door at a club, moved up to bar back and washing glases and than started helping out and it lead to a great time and lots of money for a long time. I don't do it anymore because I had to stop drinking. I still worked for a while, but had to give it up. i had one Food and Beverage manager who hated bartenders because he said they were all prima donnas. A good one is. I know that we always ran the bar and made money for them and us and ignored alot of foolishness that they tried to impose.

A good bartender is like an orcestra conducter, setting the tone and pace for the whole operation.

About bar profit, I always knew who was stealing even when upper managment did not, a good bartender knows not to be greedy, I can still remember one of the old guys I worked with putting his arm around my shoulder and telling me "You have to take care of them, but you have to take care of youself too" He asked if I knew what he meant and I told him I sure did.

It is a wonderful life, if you can get to the right spot. In the wrong spot working for the wrong people it can suck

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Bartending, or any job in the industry, involves a lifestyle choice.  A person has to be willing to work nights and weekends; deal with assholes (and wonderful people, as well);....

I'm not sure if I am on the defense with this, as several lifestyle choices have been firmly put into place that may not have any involvement with the portrayal of bartending as Busboy outlined. However, vices do temp with more frequency and with some intensity. It is all about personal choices. I chose previous positions in both law and customer service that involved working with all sorts of abilities, personalities and position. While pursuing retail management I've made the commitment and decision to being an honest, role model employee for sales associates, and other management as well, in utilising careful and precise cash handling and following standard operational procedures without fault. This is not unique to retail or food and beverage as many of these are fundamental issues that one faces in the course of most career choices, so the question becomes, do you wish to be regarded as a professional -- in the connotation of being an apparent hard working employee with integrity, accountability, honesty and flexibillity? (Professional bartender still will always = Dale DeGroff, and nothing less in accomplishment/notoriety).

A few comments regarding the choice to become a bartender:

I guess it really doesn't have to be a lifestyle choice. I was leaving retail management wherein I was employed by a womens' moderate, ready to wear apparel (weekends and many evenings -- just not as late as 3 a.m.+) and a short term contract with Eaton Corporation's law department, environmental section to fill in for a legal assisstant leaving on an extended maternity leave (ironically someone I knew from high school).

I've already dealt with my share of "assholes" from the judicial system, the practice of law (civil/criminal/public sector) and theiving sorts trying to get something for nothing in retail (internally, externally and administratively).

I felt I was more than halfway there, so why not make the money? :wink:

I don't intend, by any means, to deconstruct in the spirit of a dispute/debate with Busboy, however there I felt it necessary to comment re the following as they are issues to concern oneself when making this decision to work in areas of two way/trick mirrors, strobe lights/lasers and smoke: :wink:

....show up on time regardless of sickness or hangovers;

Had to do that paralegalling (not a word, I know) or to open my store. Really no difference to any other person with a work schedule.

....handle exposure to sex, drugs, cash and vast quantities of alcohol, without screwing up their lives;

I have yet to hear complaints about the sex, drugs, cash and vast quantities of alcohol... :biggrin: (perhaps not enough???!)

Right. Seriously, though, pretty women are harrassed (as I'm sure pretty men are too :raz: ); drugs can be found if that were to be sought out from either the FOH staff, heart of the house staff, management or clientele. Thick skin and strong wills. Drugs never were a temptation to me, but I do see it being transacted often enough. Cash is hard to adjust to when one is accustomed to bi-montly salaried auto deposits. Cash in hand can burn holes in pockets and one rocking Saturday can knock the socks off of you.

As far as vast quanitities of alcohol -- sure, but that depends on atmosphere, management philosophy and one's own ability personal limitations, determination and choices. I've worked with fellow bartenders that can drink like fish to recovering alcoholics that can barely withstand the smell. At Put in Bay we were expected to drink and "throw the party" for our guests while other places of employment that was forbidden and the end of shift drinks were the reason whey we rushed through checkouts.

....deal with immense stress;

That is a matter of personal experience and ability. Actually, this is a piece of cake compared to the squirming I've felt before a partner/judge/mayor when submitting my work. This is where the multi-tasking magic comes into play. I've worked with seasoned bartenders that wore "blinders" and others that could see the bigger picture with little that bothered them (at least anything outwardly apparent during shift.... :wacko: )

....live without sunlight;

Hey! What is that strange orange ball in the sky!!! :biggrin: Busy summer shifts we'll get the barbacks to fill the largest lexans with ice, everyone chipped in a few bucks to purchase a couple cases of some average lager and will kick back with a beer or two on the back dock. We knew it was a bad night if the sun began to rise, which did send us scurrying home! Yes, it can be the life of a vampire, but it doesn't have to be. A few do go home immediately following cash out, moi inclusive -- from time to time. :raz:

....be willing to be cursed in a variety of languages;

If someone is cursing at the barstaff, then there are problems, no matter the language!

....and be a reliable, long-term employee.

Reliability is key. However long term is always the goal with some employers. There are management/owner philosophies that do enjoy "cleaning house" and starting with a fresh staff. One management philosophy when I worked in retail for Disney, was to procure these long lasting loyalty relationships with the parkcastmembers, however that was the opposite with Disney Store castmembers. They sought out fresh new faces with bright, new enthusiasm that were screened during the interview process for a willingness to do more with less recognition. I was a dinosaur after three years, being only one of four of the store's original opening team. :blink:

Bartending isn't very different. Sometimes managers/owners simply want to replace the staff with 21 year old, blond women; sometimes not.

Everyone wants to be a star.  Prove that you're willing to work to become one.

Ask each person coming in through the doors with resume in hand and a ready pen in their pocket to fill out an application, and yes, they all want to be bartenders. No one ever seems to want to be a server!

Bartending isn't necessarily the stuff or being a "star." In fact the glamous side of the job lasts about five whole seconds when you realise how much fluid (bodily or distilled and bottled) you need to deal with, redistribute and haul around. (Think about it -- even frozen, harsh detergents, stinging fruit juices!) Barbacks are somewhat of a dying breed. A good one is worth their weight in gold as they will tend to each and every whim/need of the bartender. (Yes, even scratch that itch in the middle of your back you cannot reach!) It was a real bubble breaker when one of those newbies had to haul out and dispose of the gigantic trash barrels she incurred during her shift. She saw the light when she had to pick up the beast as it pee'd out the bottom corner of the bag, onto her white uniformed shirt, when she rather weakly tried to heave-ho it into the dumpster. She sat on the ground and cried. I gave her that moment, and when she looked up, our eyes met and I said, "Bet you are sorry now that you didn't empty the ice in the drink cups, remaining beverages and/or beer cans before you threw them into the can, eh?" She swore profusely; then we both laughed, I helped her up and we walked back to the bar to begin massive restocking.

What bartending is -- physically demanding, can be mentally abusing and can boil down to merely glorified babysitting. (Just picture: everyone is silly tipsy and you, sober, are having to deal with why the drain isn't draining with the assistance of several sized straws to find that newbie poured fruit down the hatch and it smells quite fragrantly at this point with some rather aggressive fruit flies in full attack mode...)

Aw, but such is the life for me. It entirely indulges my every whim. I want to travel, I get the time off and even know of others that can help me out, occasionally, with free airline passes or vacation home accommodations. I want more time to return to law school (should that be a revisited desire), I can do that without much interruption in my schedule too. I work when I want and when I need to refill the bank account. Also schedule-wise, I enjoy going to the market/running simple errands on Wednesdays when it is less crowded instead of the maddening crowds and masses trying to accomplish the same on Saturdays. I want to stop by in Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach, Key West and New Orleans during the winter months? I've got a buddy in the biz (most likely a former co-worker) that I look forward to visiting. New club in town? I get an invite for the grand opening. Any sports or performance I can find someone with tickets, often gratis. And good food. I LOVE our chef and sous. They make sure I have something yummy to eat.

It has its perks. :cool:

edit: sloppy proof-reading most likely brought on by the amount of heady almond paste I've sculpted into baked goods today.... :wacko:

Edited by beans (log)
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Bartending, or any job in the industry, involves a lifestyle choice.  A person has to be willing to work nights and weekends; deal with assholes (and wonderful people, as well);....

I'm not sure if I am on the defense with this, as several lifestyle choices have been firmly put into place that may not have any involvement with the portrayal of bartending as Busboy outlined. However, vices do temp with more frequency and with some intensity. It is all about personal choices. I chose previous positions in both law and customer service that involved working with all sorts of abilities, personalities and position. While pursuing retail management I've made the commitment and decision to being an honest, role model employee for sales associates, and other management as well, in utilising careful and precise cash handling and following standard operational procedures without fault. This is not unique to retail or food and beverage as many of these are fundamental issues that one faces in the course of most career choices, so the question becomes, do you wish to be regarded as a professional -- in the connotation of being an apparent hard working employee with integrity, accountability, honesty and flexibillity? (Professional bartender still will always = Dale DeGroff, and nothing less in accomplishment/notoriety)....

I'm not sure we disagree much, and as bartenders are some of my favorite people , I'd never pick a fight with you, Beans (afraid I'd be 86'd). In fact, I think you mostly supported my points -- just that you, by nature of your other positions, had experienced some of the less pleasant aspects of bartending before you took up the trade. Unlike yourself, many people get their first taste of the busines directly out of school or from a "normal" 9-5 job, and the demands of your job would surprise them. For example, believe it or not, there are many people who think being sick entitles them to call in sick (and get paid!), while there are others who actually want to go out on a date Saturday night. Who knew? :rolleyes:

As for the degenerate aspects of the trade, my years spent in and around bars (mostly as a server, alas) were in the mid- to late- 80s, when AIDS was coinsidered a gay thing and cocaine was practically health food. The "bar stars" --and they were called that, half complimentary and half as a synonym for "arrogant prick" -- tended to live a pretty sybaritic life, and it caught up to a few of them. They were pro's, though, and always made their shift -- untilit was time to detox or whatever. I think you were probably a little more of an adult by the time you became a bartender than we were, and I think the whole scene is probably a little more realistic about the potential downside of the life.

The main point I wanted to make, though, and one which I am confident we agree on, is that bartending is about a lot more than mixing drinks, and that demonstrating a capacity to do it well takes time and effort -- something a bartending school degree doesn't capture.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Sorry if I'm beating on a dead horse, but the flogging's going to continue for just a bit more....

Thanks to all for your input.... Especially the posts about the less pleasant aspects of the job; it paints a much more realistic picture of what it's like, and I'd rather have that than the rosy version.

However, my original question is still partially unanswered. I think most would agree at this point that bartending school isn't anywhere near a substitute for experience nor will it prepare one to hit the ground running (or get hired). But is there any worth to bartending school? At all? Does it in any way/shape/form help you learn the trade quicker? All other things being equal, does a barback who's gone to bartending school have a faster learning curve than the one who doesn't?

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But is there any worth to bartending school?

IMHO, no.

An excellent cocktail book and some web resources is a better investment of time and much less money for all of the cocktail recipes that schooling will give you for about $600-$1000. Practice your pouring with the assistance of jiggers or an Exacto Pour (if that should be something you determine to be a worthwhile investment or endeavour).

Want to learn how to cut fruit? Visit this: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=26775

Wonder about glassware? Visit this: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=26787

Wonder about drinks to know: Visit this: http://www.miss-charming.com/recipes/know.htm

Cheryl's website is well worth careful review, as is DrinkBoy's and Webtender.

These are not the sole web resources. I listed the many I found to be of assistance at the end of this.

At all?

That is for you to determine. I think that the answer above demonstrates if that one is resourceful enough one may be able to exceed what bartending schools attempt to provide.

Does it in any way/shape/form help you learn the trade quicker?

Are you looking for a quick fix approach? In my experience, there really isn't one. It is all dependent upon your own abilities and penchant for same. I think what has been illustrated above, it isn't some easy peasy thing to step into with little or no previous experience, especially having none in any food and beverage situation.

All other things being equal, does a barback who's gone to bartending school have a faster learning curve than the one who doesn't?

As stated above, barbacks are few and far between these days. Why pay for an additional position on the payroll when the bartender is perfectly capable of accomplishing same?

Barbacks are indeed special though. They are the extra eyes and ears for the bartender. They anticipate the bartender's needs (spot an amost empty bottle? The good barback grabs a new one from the liquor room before a bartender has to scream for one while in the middle of making a drink). Being a walking database of drink recipes will not help you with that barback "dance."

But then again this is all dependent upon the bartending school that is being considered. There are a rare few that do a great job -- just not where I reside, and in all fairness this rare find should not be summarily dismissed. But it gets dissed and lumped in too from the general reputation that bartending "schools" have evoked, or perhaps earned in overall reputation.

I do know of one that does a fantastic job, but it is in Oklahoma (I think). One Webtender forumite instructs at it and I am of the sincere impresssion he is one of the utmost integrity, personally and professionally.

Question for you -- Why bartending? I mean why not serving? I've worked in restaurants that the bartender was the lowest earner on the tips scale, so I split my schedule to maintain both bartending and serving shifts.

Good luck, and Happy Holidays.

edit: the typo bug bites again seizing the sloppy proof-reading moment :blink:

Edited by beans (log)
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OK, I've read everything you've said about bartending and still plan on going to school. I'm a 19 year old college student, no bartending experience, and it seems like it would be important to have something on my app, even if it's not much. The TSOB (Texas School of Bartenders, oldest and most "established" bartending school in TX with affiliates all over the US) guarantees 85-97% job placement for their graduates... I really hope that I'm not being taken in :huh: .

So I'll graduate from a Texas school but plan to try and find a job in Memphis when I move back there shortly. Can anybody give me advice? Does anyone know of likely places to work in Memphis?

By the way, I'm not blonde, but very cute :raz: , and personable, and more than able to deal with the various stresses and horrible customers that may cross my path. I have several years of experience working in a cooking school (from prep to waitressing to teaching) and I'm ready to try something new within the restaurant.

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Question for you -- Why bartending? I mean why not serving? I've worked in restaurants that the bartender was the lowest earner on the tips scale, so I split my schedule to maintain both bartending and serving shifts.

To be honest, it's not entirely about the money. Call it an irrational fascination with alcohol, "mixology", wine/cocktails, and the culture that goes along with it. I'm located in Philadelphia and have been taken up by the rather vibrant (and delicious) restaurant scene here. I would love to bartend at any number of places here and am willing to start at the bottom to get there. Even if that means some shifts as an unpaid barback (they get paid $5-6/hr in this town).

I figure I have little to lose. I'm also willing to deal with taking out 40 lb leaky trash bags and deal with irate customers. I've done my share of physical labor. Perhaps the final picture isn't as rosy as I've imagined (and I've already taken into acct things you've described here and on other forums), but at the very least, I can chalk it up to a world of experience in something the corporate world won't take me. I imagine you've managed to learn an enormous amount, not just about alcohol, but about people in your years behind the bar.

So if I can do it part-time on the side, why not? It won't be easy, but I'm a firm believer of being able to find the exceptions. One summer night I once walked into this mid-range/slightly pricey restaurant and stopped at the bar while waiting. On a whim I asked the bartender (young female college student) how she got her job. She said she had gone to bartending school, walked in, and asked for a job. To which the manager responsed, "when can you start?". Granted, it was more of a service type bar than anything else, but I'm willing to start there. Another friend walked into one of Philly's fine-dining establishments and asked for a job as a line chef. No experience, no nothing. The chef looked her up and down, said, "I like the way you move" and next thing she knew, she had a knife in her hands.

So it may take weeks of pounding the pavement and calling in contacts in the restaurant biz, or it may take a "hello, here's my resume". I'm not afraid of a bit of hard work and the non-monetary payoffs seem to be incalcuable. At worst, I'll have learned the best way to make a martini. At best, it could be a lucrative side career and a pratical outlet for a personal interest.

I'll post an update on how it goes in a couple months. =) And if anyone in the Philly area wants to give a young, goodlooking, and hardworking guy a chance to prove his worth, lemme know. :raz:

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Welcome to eG alicembk! :cool:

The TSOB (Texas School of Bartenders, oldest and most "established" bartending school in TX with affiliates all over the US) guarantees 85-97% job placement for their graduates... I really hope that I'm not being taken in  :huh: .

Not sure how this will affect your decision to attend this school as you will be moving. However in the spirit of offering opinions/thoughts regarding the Bartending School -- pros, cons and issues of job placement "guarantees" Check references!

See if the school will provide a list of names of recent attendees that completed their course of study and were successfully placed into a paying, bartending position. Visit them and if they are willing to chat, ask away any question -- especially ones regarding promises of guaranteed future employment.

Regarding Memphis -- good luck. :smile: I don't know the restaurant/bar/club scene there well enough to be of any assistance. Interesting state though, as it is one of the few that permits 18 year olds to serve, sell and pour alcohol.

I'll post an update on how it goes in a couple months.

Please do. Keep the positive attitude and enthusiasm. Very attractive to employers. :cool:

BB Code :wacko:

Edited by beans (log)
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  • 1 month later...

For those of you (i.e. beans and company) whose help I solicited a couple months back, here's an update as to how my bartending endeavors have gone:

Against all good reason and advice about bartending school, I decided to enroll myself in a local (Philly) school. :raz: Advice on whether to go or not was pretty much split, whether from egulleters or webtenders, so I went ahead and did it. I must say, I do NOT regret it one bit. Due to some fortunate timing, some luck, and some initiative, two days after graduation I nabbed myself a job at a local fine dining restaurant.

So for all who are considering bartending school, I'd first check out the schools in your area and see what kind of luck they have placing graduates, what kind of training they do, etc. If you're lucky enough to have a decent school, I'd go for it. Chances are there will be a manager somewhere willing to take an untested but eager applicant. Or maybe I just got extremely, extremely, lucky.

Did bartending school prepare me to work this job other than being able to tell the recruiter I went to it? Undeniably YES. Everything from mixing drinks (duh), knowing top shelf liquors, washing glasses, cleaning the bar, registers, cutting fruit, state liquor laws, intro to wines/ports/cognac, knowing to check for stock, etc....

What bartending school will NOT prepare you for is how to handle people (role playing helps but not really), people/customer skills, how to multi-task, how to be diligent and aware, master all P.O.S. systems, etc... But then again, these are things you either have or don't have; you won't learn it in class.

As the job continues I'll probably have more to say, but for now, I have to say that bartending school allowed me to hit the ground running, and if not running, at least jogging at a medium-pace :smile:

So is bartending school a waste of time? If it's a decent school, NO. I found people often respond to this question with, "absolutely not, bartending schools are a waste of time", suggesting that having gone to ANY bartending school will have you laughed out of the bar. I agree, that might happen, but not always. Sometimes that bartending class will let you get your foot in the door to prove yourself. While there may be some truly awful schools who just want to take your money, there ARE good schools out there. Case in point: of the 10-11 people that were in our class, at least 5 of us had a job a week after "graduation". Those aren't bad numbers, especially for the slow season.

In any case, I didn't post this to say that bartending schools are the answer, but just to say to give them a fair chance. Not all are created equal! Do some research, ask some questions, you should be able to tell if they're just out for your money or if they'll actually teach you something. Had I not decided to do school, I might have been barbacking for a year before I got anywhere near to mixing a martini.

In any case, thanks to all for your help and advice. If curious, I will continue to post more thoughts as I gain more experience (the bad parts of the job, specifics of working in a high-class restaurant, etc). But if not, consider this the happy epilogue to my "is bartending school worth it" query back in 2003. :biggrin: Cheers.

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If curious, I will continue to post more thoughts as I gain more experience (the bad parts of the job, specifics of working in a high-class restaurant, etc). But if not, consider this the happy epilogue to my "is bartending school worth it" query back in 2003. :biggrin: Cheers.

live2eat:

Please do! :cool:

I think as I posted before earlier in this thread, positive attitude and enthusiasm are very attractive things in much more than a mere bartending job. :wink: Your clear interest and passion will set you apart from the average bartending school attendee that walks in believing it is all easy peasy with big buck rewards.

My only observation of my experience in fine dining -- I learned to really loathe all of those large parties initially all ordering various wines by the glass. Bleh. Pouring seven or so different reds/whites for one order you'll soon learn "the race" to make sure all pours are equal. Oops! The merlot has a micro millilitre more than the cab so I'll go back and splash a bit more of cab to even it up.... etc., etc. And pouring several wines by the glass for service orders take a tad more time than zinging out a bunch of cocktails all at once.

Enjoy your new digs. :smile: Take a good look around and explore your higher end liquors (usually a nice collection and variety of single malts and boutique bourbons) and soak up all you can about wine.

Thanks for the update. Best of luck.

Be sure to use every available resource to continue learning, or even as to blow off steam in a riotously scathing rant!

[this was part time and to earn extra $$$, right? Well, ummm, errr, anyway.....]

Cheers to you live2eat!

Welcome to the biz!

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Where in Philly are you bartending? A few of us live in the area and would consider stopping by and having a drink.

You are all indeed welcome for a drink or three. However, the restaurant is actually in the suburbs. Restaurant Passerelle, right off the main line in Radnor.

My weekday schedule will vary, but chances are you'll find me behind the bar at least on Sat eves. Cheers.

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Gald it all worked out for you. I have been away from bartending for almost 10 years now and I still miss it alot. I like what I do now, after spending some time searching, but if the stars were all aligned corecctly i'd go back to it. I hope you have a wonderful time and i second the recomendation that you learn as much about wine as you can. Wine knowledge can take you far as it has more lasting meaning than knowing how to make the latest cocktail in vogue. Again good luck and enjoy yourself

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Where in Philly are you bartending? A few of us live in the area and would consider stopping by and having a drink.

You are all indeed welcome for a drink or three. However, the restaurant is actually in the suburbs. Restaurant Passerelle, right off the main line in Radnor.

My weekday schedule will vary, but chances are you'll find me behind the bar at least on Sat eves. Cheers.

A little far for me on a normal basis, but good going, getting a Saturday evening.

If the scheduling is done right, you can make it really pay off.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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I have never hired a bartender from outside of my own restaurant. BT school is a waste of your time. All these new "bartenders" get sent out into the world with their certificates, but that does not guarantee you a job. Reason being? Bartenders, besides having to entertain a bartop and knowing how to make drinks properly, are entrusted with some serious stuff: cash, expensive and vast inventory, bar costs...you don't just hand over that kind of responsibility to someone who walks in your front door.

And, sadly, the certificate does not impress me. Yes, there are basic recipes, but if I have established a protocol in my restaurant, along with signature recipes, then what you learned at BT school isn't worth squat.

If you are looking for a job as a BT, I suggest you go to the establishments where you'd like to work and ask them what their requirements are. You will learn quite a bit about drink recipes and the job, in general, by talking to bartenders and making use of the knowledgeable staff at a good liquor store. And, it isn't just pouring beer and mixing martinis...can you recommend a wine with that appetizer? Do you know the difference between Irish and Scotch whiskeys? What makes a beer "light?" How do you pour a draft beer with a perfect head? Add to that state regulations, sanitation issues, product rotation and freshness...

In other words, don't waste your time with BT school!

-42feed

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Welcome to eG 42feed! :smile:

And, sadly, the certificate does not impress me.  Yes, there are basic recipes, but if I have established a protocol in my restaurant, along with signature recipes, then what you learned at BT school isn't worth squat.

We too have signature cocktails and are currently undertaking a huge face lift changing our training materials and procedures. One simply cannot expect another to already have the knowledge of the specs: cocktail recipes, techniques or serving procedures; inclusive of promoting one's own servers from within.

Also, when we hit season, we need to hire additional staff. So, training and/or refreshing those that have been re-welcomed to return, is inevitable. Promote from within? Gotta teach them how to construct those same signature drinks. Hire someone "off the street" -- ditto. And not to forget the already existing team -- they need to be introduced to the philosphy, ingredients and procedure(s) of the new signature cocktail menu as well.

What bartending school will do is at least teach some of the basics -- product knowledge (yes that would inlcude a discussion on beer) classics/most popular and the various procedures/techniques to constructing various drinks and cocktails. Something a server promoted to bartender most likely will lack understanding or knowledge of same. (hopefully to be recognised and rewarded with that promotion, they have already have the demonstrated ability to learn quickly on their feet and multi-task)

If you are looking for a job as a BT, I suggest you go to the establishments where you'd like to work and ask them what their requirements are.

Always a good thing to do.

You will learn quite a bit about drink recipes and the job, in general, by talking to bartenders and making use of the knowledgeable staff at a good liquor store.  And, it isn't just pouring beer and mixing martinis...can you recommend a wine with that appetizer?  Do you know the difference between Irish and Scotch whiskeys?  What makes a beer "light?"  How do you pour a draft beer with a perfect head?  Add to that state regulations, sanitation issues, product rotation and freshness...

Chit chatting with a busy and working bartender will not offer up in depth discussions on what makes a beer light, and same with a liquor store clerk regarding state regulations! First, a liquor store clerk is (or should be) familiar with the retailing of liquor, which is often quite different from the sale, service and pouring of liquors in a food and beverage establishment.

Actually a decent bartending school will equip the student with those sorts of subjects. However, I may wonder about the level of wine education one receives from that sort of training. Where I work, we do not depend upon any bartending school to provide that at all! We host frequent tastings with the wine reps wherein we have mandatory staff attendance for a full discussion of the featured wines -- production region, varietal, a tasting with verbal descriptors, food pairings (done hand in hand with our Executive Chef), etc. Again, on the job training.

Something that also appears to be mandatory for most service staff within the States, alcohol awareness programs (TiPS/TAM/TEAM, etc.) which I find to be quite important these days -- or at least reduces our insurance premiums a wee bit making our owner happy. Earning that certification may indeed be a part of the better bartending school programs and it would be not only good policy but convenient one stop shopping so to speak.

As far as trustworthy candidates to step behind our bar, I have found careful reference and previous employer checks, a written test screening those truly in the know upon application, a thorough, interactive interviewing process, training (menu, wine list and cocktails) are all an investment of time worthy of finding quality staff.

eG'er live2eat has the energy, interest, persistence and apparent initiative to use what many poo-poo'd and landed a bartending position rather quickly in a somewhat depressed food and beverage industry experiencing a bit of an economic slump. Don't trump his success with hard and fast rules that can be worked around, given the right person presents themself for the job. :smile:

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42feed. Welcome to egullet.

I've heard your point time and time again. And once again, if you don't mind, I beg to disagree. Here's the way I see it:

The Bartending ceritificate is just the prerequesite. Just like any other job description out there: must know how to make a martini, blah blah. On TOP of that are the personal characteristics one looks for.. reponsibility, diligence, whatever. Hence the interview process. Bartending school just says you can do the bare minimum requirements of the job. I would think you'd believe that. Nobody's saying bartending school is going to teach someone how to be responsible with money, be hard working, have a good memory, etc....

So are you telling me that if you interviewed a bartending school graduate and found them to be responsible, intelligent, and diligent, you wouldn't hire them simply because for some reason you claim that bartending school is a waste of time? Spend 15 minutes, call his or her references, peruse their resume if they have one, call former employers, and you should have a pretty good idea of that person's potential to perform the job. In the same way, a finance degree doesn't qualify you to be an investment banker. But often times (not always) it's a prerequesite. They're only hired when the interview process goes well.

No, bartending school isn't the end all of getting a bt job. But it sure does give you the basic skills! Something gained is not a waste of time.

As a side note, the bt school I attended was rather poor on the wine education. If I didn't have an interest in learning wine to begin with, I'd be at a severe disadvantage. I've still an enormous amount to learn about wine. But the majority of graduates are going to sports bars or clubs where a knowledge of the latest Australian Shiraz just isn't necessary.

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No, bartending school isn't the end all of getting a bt job. But it sure does give you the basic skills! Something gained is not a waste of time.

I have learned that a small handful of schools do a decent job and are more than the rip off artists making a quick buck and reproducing our corporate drink recipe book (or Applebee's or TGIF, etc. -- I've seen many of these photocopy compilations with a different coloured cover as a flimsy stapled on thereby creating a "new" booklet). However, they appear few and far betweeen and I've had more experience with the rip off artist schools. :rolleyes:

So, this leads to something of a rant. It is the general perception of many that bartending is an easy and unskilled position -- so when faced with being in that hard place and a rock struggling to pay the bills, earn a living and put food on the table, ephiphany hits.

Yeah, I can become a bartender!!

<roll bartending academy cheesy telly and/or radio advert>

Right to my rescue!!! I'm going to enroll and I'll have a job immediately upon completion and I'll be on my way to financial independence! I'm going to be just like Tom Cruise in Cocktail -- you think or "hear" all in that mind's "voice" in a distinct tone equating squeals of delight....

:hmmm:

You think Joe Entrepreneur hasn't figured out a way to feed off those numbers of folks looking for employment and swooped in to fill this "educational" niche, thus creating some Ultimate Bartending Academy, Ltd. (I am hoping that is not a real entity)???

Again, :hmmm:

Okay, whew. I feel better. I got that bit o'hot air out and in the open.... :biggrin:

Back to the thread. I am happy to learn that bartending schools are not all the same, with those few that are provide some decent training. It is something a bit new, and even refreshingly surprising.

live2eat, out of curiosity how many of your fellow graduates succesfully found immediate, gainful employment in bartending? How large was your class?

How are you finding your first job? What are the challenges? Are you solely tending for guests or are you juggling both guests and service orders?

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Pity there are so many fraud for btending school out there. Gives the few with a good program a bad reputation.

live2eat, out of curiosity how many of your fellow graduates succesfully found immediate, gainful employment in bartending? How large was your class?

Out of a class of 11 or so people, at least four of us had jobs four days after the completion of the course. And there were some I didn't get to ask if they were employed, so I imagine the actual number is higher than four. One girl had multiple three job offers. None of those job offers were from catering companies.

How are you finding your first job? What are the challenges? Are you solely tending for guests or are you juggling both guests and service orders?

My duties are both for service bar and customers. My second shift was an extremely busy saturday night shift. We had a full restaurant and a fairly busy bar. In this case I tended the service bar (which was rather crazy) while the other bartender took the guests. On slower days I will be responsible for both customers and the service bar.

The service bar was far busier than I expected it to be. There were times during the night where orders came in much faster than I could fill them; and I WAS moving fast. Part of the delay had to do with the fact that I was still figuring out where certain things were located (like if an uncommon sherry was ordered.."where do we keep the tio pepe?!?"), and just getting used to doing things in an efficient manner. At any given point I'd be chilling a couple martini glasses, filling cokes, pouring glasses of wine, and then finally stirring and straining the martinis. Then there were the servers standing there waiting (sometimes rather impatiently) for their orders to be filled. No pity on the new guy I tell ya. At one point a server remarked, "do you feel violated yet? 'cuz if you don't we haven't done our job yet..." No idea what he meant by that. :hmmm: I lost count, but there were at least 7 servers for dining and a few more for a private party dowstairs at the same time. This is all while the main bartender fielded a bar crowd that at times went 2-3 deep.

One specific challenge so far has been learning the wines. We serve a lot of wine by the glass and at first it took awhile remembering which wine was what. Things like remembernig "1 gl La terre" on the ticket means to go for the cab bottle in the middle of the shelf. After a couple orders your hand goes immediately to the bottle, shaving a few seconds of looking around. When the ticket printer is going non-stop, those extra few seconds add up very very quickly. Part of the learning curve.

Another challenge has been figuring out what sequence to fill the order. If you've got to make 2 cosmos, pour a couple glasses of wine, and a dewar's on the rocks, what to do first? At first I'd just do it in sequence, but then you realize that while you can fill the two martini glasses with ice and soda to chill, you can fill your rocks glass as well while the scoop is still in your hand and then pour the two wines, which takes little time. Then you pour what you need into the shaker for the cosmos, and while you're picking bottles off the rack, grab the dewars and finish off the rocks glass, etc.... something like that. Essentially making efficient use of your time and eliminating redundant motions... doing things in parallel sometimes shaves seconds off if you did everything serially... speed is really of the essence! I understand now why some bartenders tell their guests the blender is broken when pina coladas are ordered.. somtimes you just don't wanna mess with the blender when you've got 6 other drinks to make. :biggrin: Good thing we don't have a blender anyhow.

There's definitely a learning curve but with a little repetition things get much faster and much more efficiently. I'm sure there's more, but that's it for now...

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Another challenge has been figuring out what sequence to fill the order. If you've got to make 2 cosmos, pour a couple glasses of wine, and a dewar's on the rocks, what to do first? At first I'd just do it in sequence, but then you realize that while you can fill the two martini glasses with ice and soda to chill, you can fill your rocks glass as well while the scoop is still in your hand and then pour the two wines, which takes little time. Then you pour what you need into the shaker for the cosmos, and while you're picking bottles off the rack, grab the dewars and finish off the rocks glass, etc.... something like that. Essentially making efficient use of your time and eliminating redundant motions... doing things in parallel sometimes shaves seconds off if you did everything serially... speed is really of the essence! I understand now why some bartenders tell their guests the blender is broken when pina coladas are ordered.. somtimes you just don't wanna mess with the blender when you've got 6 other drinks to make. :biggrin: Good thing we don't have a blender anyhow.

While in class, did they go over this sort of scenario?

Where I work this was hammered into our servers' heads because at the time we did an audible system of calling drinks for service orders. (along with a drink "chit" in hand as proof it was rung onto the guest check-- but we no longer do this)

Blender/Frozens

Up Cocktails

High balls (LIT, etc.)

Low balls (rum and coke, etc.)

Shots with a process

Rocks

Bottled beers

Wines by the glass

Draught beer

Making is sort of the same, but a tad different. Say this ticket pops up for one of my service orders:

1 house of Merlot

1 Frozen Margarita

1 Bombay Martini

w/olives

1 Long Island

1 Rum

w/Coke

2 Red Stripe

1 Bass draught

1 Jack Daniels

neat

Start frozen marg with all ingredients into blender pitcher, start blender

Ice and line up all required glassware for order, including cocktail tin

Chill cocktail glass

Turn off blender

Pour liquors and sour into mixing glass/tin for LIT, shake/flash blend (if one exists)

Pour LIT into serving glass

Pour Marg into serving glass

Pour rum/Pour shot of Jack (simultaneously if possible)

Pour gin and vermouth into cocktail shaker and top

Top LIT and Rum with cola

Grab and open bottled beers

Pour glass of house merlot

Pour Bass draught

Empty cocktail glass

Swirl cocktail shaker and strain into cocktail glass

Garnish all requiring same (Marg, LIT and Martini)

Straw/stir-stick all drinks requiring same

Economise on time -- while the blender is whirring away the cocktail glass can be chilling and other drinks made. Garnish all at once, use the soda gun once, etc.

Takes time and practice of re-deciphering this ordering/making process when servers are not trained to do so. You'll be doing it in your sleep then you'll be doing it without a second thought as though it came naturally! :raz:

As always, good luck and hang in there. Sounds like you are off to a great start.

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I attended bartending school for fun. It was great. I had fun. My school actually was going to place me for job interviews, they said that girls usually have an easier time. But for me it was all for personal knowledge. We learned how to pour a perfect shot, make multiple cocktails really fast (they timed us). People were not guaranteed jobs but most people in my class went on interviews through the school.

Attending school will never equate being in an actual work environment, that goes for a lot of other programs not just bartending. But I think school helps because it lays some type of a foundation in a shorter period of time. Soft skills you can't really teach. It's a lot harder to train someone in people skills/getting along than learning recipes. Most successful bartenders I've met have good personalities.

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  • 4 months later...
So, one can become a bartender without taking classes at a bartending school? I just assumed there was a coursework and licensing requirement. Shows how much I know.

Tn is a state that does mandate training and certification. There may be others.

Living hard will take its toll...
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