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Bartender's Job


Gary Regan
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I posed this question in another forum where there might be more professional bartenders than consumers, but it might be fun to hear from consumers on this topic, too, so I hope lots of you take a stab at it:

I have my own answer to this question, and I'll let everyone know what it is after I hear what you guys (non-gender-specific) have to say:

We all know that a bartender has to wear lots of different hats when he/she is behind the stick, but can you tell me in one sentence what is the most important part of a bartender's job?

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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Personality. A bartender who makes his customers feel welcome at the bar, will keep people longer and drinking more and will keep people coming back. Conversely a bartender who is miserable will drive people away pretty quickly.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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We all know that a bartender has to wear lots of different hats when he/she is behind the stick, but can you tell me in one sentence what is the most important part of a bartender's job?

An extensive repertoire of cocktails. When I'm taking the time and trouble to go out to drink, I want something more interesting than a cosmo or a manhattan. Unfortunately many of the bars in DC don't go very far beyond the basics, except perhaps for a small list of (primarily) vodka-based specialty cocktails. It's also frustrating to point to a bottle of liquor on the bar to ask what they use it for (Chartreuse, perhaps) and hear "I don't know" in reply.

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We all know that a bartender has to wear lots of different hats when he/she is behind the stick, but can you tell me in one sentence what is the most important part of a bartender's job?

Acting as much as is humanly possible like Gary Regan in all things, without actually being him (one is enough).

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I think the specific skill set will vary widely depending on the bar and the clientele. But I think job #1 is to have the customer satisfied. This may mean having a highly skilled mixologist create an evening's series of cocktails around rye whiskey for me, or it may mean having the hot female bartender barely wearing a t-shirt 4 sizes too small and who can hardly do more than serve beer and pour shots taking the time to flirt with me a little bit. Different bars, different jobs. But either way, I'm likely to leave happy. And there are, of course, a thousand or more different styles in between those two. Actually... some combination of those two styles is sounding pretty good. :smile: All that said, I suppose there is some responsibility incumbent upon the customer to pick the right kind of bar and bartender. It's unlikely that a "beer and shots babe" is going to be able to satisfy a customer who has walked into the wrong bar and really wants a Corpse Reviver #2.

--

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um... serving drinks? kidding aside, i like my bartender to have knowledge and swagger... the only important things to me.

if i ask for a rye manhatten and the bartender tells me they don't have rye... no big deal. but if they don't know what rye is... tsk, tsk. or if i point to a tap and ask what that beer tastes like and they tell me they don't know. good greif... know what you're serving!!!

and serve it efficiently and happily. a bartender who takes pride in their work is the best kind.

i don't care if they talk to me, flirt with me or dazzle me with tricks... just serve a good drink and know what you're talking about (or, if you don't, convince me that you do).

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I enjoy a bartender who makes a great drink and makes me feel welcome. There are a lot of factors that go into each of these requirements and they vary from person to person. Bartending is not easy. I really appreciate it when I find a good one.

KathyM

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A great bartender must possess the following qualities in my book:

A scintillating personality

A great conversationalist.

A vast knowledge of spirits and cocktails.

The ability to know what topics not to talk about over the bar.

A great sense of humor.

An understanding that the bar is a stage, and that they are there to entertain.

Honesty

Respect for the bar they tend.

I love a great cocktail, but I will sit at a bar and have a Makers and ginger with a bartender who keeps me on my toes...

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Personality.  A bartender who makes his customers feel welcome at the bar, will keep people longer and drinking more and will keep people coming back.  Conversely a bartender who is miserable will drive people away pretty quickly.

yup, what Marlene said.

People who frequent bars (not the ones that open before breakfast) are there for a little something extra. People who dine more so. Personality, skill, knowledge, and just being nice are what it's all about.

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Well, of course, Wondrich hit the nail on the head here! :laugh:

It's still your round, Dave . . .

The most difficult part of the quest I posted, as some of you discovered, is keeping it down to one sentence, and this was a quest I set for myself a few weeks ago.

What I came up with is totally inadequate, as a couple of people in another forum pointed out recently, but it's the best I can do. In one sentence.

Here's the only sentence I could come up with that, for me, best describes the most important part of a bartender's job (in one sentence):

"A great bartender makes sure that every customer leaves his/her bar feeling better that they did when they walked in."

I have more to say on this subject, but I'll leave it at that for the time being, though I think I'd like to add one more comment, and it's something that I wrote somewhere in Joy of Mixology:

"You disaagree? Good. We're off to a good start."

:smile:

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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How about:

A great bartender makes every customer feel special?

That's a good sentence, but it doesn't quite cover it from my POV. Why? Not everyone goes to a bar to feel special.

Some people want to have a quiet conversation with a friend. A good bartender "feels" that, and leaves them alone.

Somebody else might want to moan about their partner. A goof bartender "feels" that, and if possible, they make time to listen to that person's woes.

There are myriad other possibilties, and that's why I phrased my sentence in that particular way. Making people feel better when they walk out than they did when they walked in can be achieved in many ways.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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Seems to me, no-one could really ensure that his/her customers leave happier than when they came in. As long as you do your best and get good results (i.e., a majority of your customers are pleased and no-one wants to deck you or something), a lack of perfection in getting the reaction you want is fine. You're not them and can't make them react the way you want them to.

But all that points out is the near-impossibility of your challenge, to state in a single sentence what a bartender's job is. I think a bartender's most important sentence, though, is "What are you having?" :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Seems to me, no-one could really ensure that his/her customers leave happier than when they came in. As long as you do your best and get good results (i.e., a majority of your customers are pleased and no-one wants to deck you or something), a lack of perfection in getting the reaction you want is fine. You're not them and can't make them react the way you want them to.

But all that points out is the near-impossibility of your challenge, to state in a single sentence what a bartender's job is. I think a bartender's most important sentence, though, is "What are you having?" :biggrin:

In my experience, you're absolutely right. It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time. But it's not a bad idea for a bartender to have a goal to aim for.

I usually manage to get through a shift without upsetting anyone, but there are times when it's necessary to lay the law down, just to keep the majority of the other customers happy. I did this last year when I refused to serve somebody who had obviously had too much to drink. She did not leave my bar happier than she came in, and she's never been back (thanks, God)

And I make mistakes, too. I sometimes, though not often, "read" people incorrectly such as the time when I thought somebody was drunk, but he turned out to be very sober. It happens. But I try to keep my goal in mind.

And sometimes having nobody wanting to deck you is an admirable, even remarkable, achievement . . . :smile:

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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I've been thinking about this for a few days, and the best I can do in one sentence is that the best bartenders will make you feel like a regular, even if you aren't and even if you never can or will be.

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I've been thinking about this for a few days, and the best I can do in one sentence is that the best bartenders will make you feel like a regular, even if you aren't and even if you never can or will be.

I LOVE that one, Janet. Nicely put.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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.....

"A great bartender makes sure that every customer leaves his/her bar feeling better that they did when they walked in."

.....

So, if a bartender gives every customer a $20 bill and tells them to go down the street, does that earn greatness?

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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.....

"A great bartender makes sure that every customer leaves his/her bar feeling better that they did when they walked in."

.....

So, if a bartender gives every customer a $20 bill and tells them to go down the street, does that earn greatness?

Perhaps not, but it would make me want to go back to that bar pretty frequently. :smile:

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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had a terrible experiance last night for the second time at a bar with the same bartender. made me think.

in one sentence with elaboration.

a bartender should a make a person feel welcome and b glad they are.

b can be with great drinks funny conversation or some other form of entertainment but the feeling welcome is the most important of all. everyone knows that ackward feeling entering a place for the first time compared to that place where your met with a smile treated like an appriciated guest. if you feel welcome your gonna came back especially if your glad your welcome.

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