Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Shannon_Elise

Tips for the Bartender

Recommended Posts

Because being a journalist pays like crap, I started bartending school (don't laugh) to suppliment my income).

Just starting out, I would like to know when you do go out to a nice restaurant or lounge, what do bartenders do that annoys the crap out of you? What do most not know that you wish they did? What are little things a bartender can do that make you happy as a customer? Any information would be extremely helpful. (On a side note: I searched to see if this came up before and I could not find anything along this line). Thanks in advance.

Shannon


my new blog: http://uninvitedleftovers.blogspot.com

"...but I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time...be kind to me, or treat me mean...I'll make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine."

-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bartender that knows when it is appropriate to shake a drink vs. when to stir a drink is always a big plus for me.

Also one that shakes like she/he means it is nice as opposed to a half hearted shake is nice too.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Offer tastes if a patron is unsure about what beer on tap or wine by the glass to order.

This may depend on the establishment more that the bartender, but if I'm sitting at the bar and not eating food, I generally prefer to pay by the drink in cash rather than start a tab. I don't like having to get the bartender's attention when I'm ready to leave. If I've already paid, I'm good to go. So offer me a choice.

Again, may have more to do with the establishment than the bartender, but if I'm in the lounge having a drink before dinner, transfer my tab. Don't inconvenience me because you and the server can't decide who gets what portion of the tip.

Some people don't like being given ten dollars change in a combination of a five and five singles. They feel the bartender is hinting for a tip. I personally don't mind this practice. But some people do mind.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not laughing! As this forum makes abundantly clear, bartending can be a whole lot more than just a second job. I'd read around and check out the wealth of expertise that you can find here from some of the best mixologists in the world.

Having made that pitch: a few tips.

Don't ignore the customers. I don't mind waiting a few minutes as long as you make eye contact and say, "Be with you as soon as I can." Pretending I'm not there makes me wonder if you've noticed me or not.

Know what beers are on tap, what wines are available by the glass, and what scotches (or tequilas, or rums, or bourbons... whatever strengths the bar has) are on hand.

Have a few tricks up your sleeve -- and I'm not talking about flipping the vodka bottle into the air before you make your cosmo. Perfect a few interesting classic cocktails that you can offer to the intrepid and bored, and, if you play it right, you can build a reputation as a true bartender and not just someone slingin' jello shots.

Finally, I very strongly recommend reading Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology, which has an entire chapter devoted to these sorts of tips.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some people don't like being given ten dollars change in a combination of a five and five singles. They feel the bartender is hinting for a tip. I personally don't mind this practice. But some people do mind.

And some people get annoyed if they didn't get the proper change to leave a tip and have to ask for more change right after getting their change. It's a no win situation for the bartender, but I fall on the side of making it easier to tip me. :biggrin:

Giving a good shake to a drink is crucial for chill and dilution. No half assed shaking. Shake it likes it's someone you hate that won't shut up. :raz:

Know what you have behind your bar. What beers are on draft and in bottles, which wines you offer by the glass (feel free to hand me a wine list and offer to help answer any questions I might have if it's too extensive to memorize) to which single malts you offer. Know your bar. These people are your guests.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me the two key elements of bartending are knowledge and the ability to read your guest and adjust your service style depending on their needs.

If you know your products and are able to make sure that every guest leaves feeling better than when they arrived you've pretty much got it nailed.

After that its simply a matter of developing your own style and making sure that you never start thinking that your more important than your establishment or your clientele!


i´d rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal labotomy! Fred Allen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking only as a bar customer, I really think it's disgusting when bartenders use their fingers to dig olives out of their trays to stick them on picks or stirrers for a drink. I mean, how much money and other shit have you just handled that you're gonna basically stick your fingers in my drink w/o washing them first?!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a bartenders perspective:

First, when I handle food I always have clean hands because I wash then constantly. I also use that alcohol gel to keep clean. It's a two way street about cleanliness, I look out at my customers and see the great unwashed masses. So cleaning my hands is more for my protection, but it benefits the customers also.

In certain places paying cash for each drink is a serious time killer. A service bar or club is fine, but most restaurants run tabs because it is more efficient and we can provide better overall service, for everyone. Plus I only have an $80 float so if someone pays with 4 $20's then my float gets eaten up pretty quickly. Learn your bartenders name, and then when you are ready to leave say"Hey Darcy, do you mind if I get my cheque?" Once you do that you will automatically be next in my list of things to do.

Giving proper change is polite (i.e. $5, 5x$1). I'm not hinting, I really do expect you to tip me if I've provided good service. Remeber my hourly pay is crap (less than minimum and in some places about $2 per hour). It's the nature of the business, even though I personally don't like the tipping system, it's not going to change anytime soon. But if you want less than minimum wage service, you can have it if you don't tip, but don't complain. If I paid you $2 per hour I'm not sure you'd be all that friendly. If you want great service form a knowledgeable bartender than we need to provide you with the ability to tip properly (i.e. $5, 5x$1). Thank you.

Transferring the tab is the bane of the bartender. The servers never (ever!) give you the fraction of the tip you did for the service. People are greedy and will take what they can get because there are no rules that states a server has to share their tips. The proper way to do it, is to tip the bartender and then subtract that tip from the final total tip out.

Also, a lot of stuff is out of the control of the bartender because it's not our business. The owners/managers apply a lot of rules that we need to follow. The other stuff is training and experience. There are only a handful of decent bartending schools, but othert than those 90% of bartenders start of learning their skills from the bad habits of the bartenders who came before them.


Darcy S. O'Neil

Chemist | Bartender | Writer

Website: Art of Drink

Book: Fix the Pumps

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that perspective, Darcy. Whenever I'm in a place that will transfer the tab (and not all of them will), I always tip the bartender for his/her service.

And boy would I love to see bartenders wash their hands once in a while, but I've learned to order drinks w/o fruit (lemon/lime) or olives, unless I'm at a place like Pegu, where the mise is set up correctly.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just being nice is cool.

I can forgive slow service or poorly made drinks if the effort is there and the person is pleasant and trying.

Getting crappy drinks with an attitude is the worst.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some people don't like being given ten dollars change in a combination of a five and five singles. They feel the bartender is hinting for a tip. I personally don't mind this practice. But some people do mind.

And some people get annoyed if they didn't get the proper change to leave a tip and have to ask for more change right after getting their change. It's a no win situation for the bartender, but I fall on the side of making it easier to tip me. :biggrin:

Maybe I've spent too much time in bars (and in various service jobs) but I think taking offence at receiving change suitable to tipping says a lot more about the customer than it does the bartender. I've never once thought that a server was hinting for a tip by providing change suitable for tipping. If I'm in a tipping situation I damn well expect to receive change suitable for tipping. That's not a hint. That's a valuable service. Why would any server create work for himself and the guest by forcing the guest to ask for smaller change?

As for tips I'd pass along to a new bartender here are a couple:

1. A twist is almost always an ingredient, not just a pretty little piece of yellow added for looks. Make sure the twists are fresh enough and cut to a size that when twisted actual lemon oil is expressed onto the drink. Same goes for twists cut from any other citrus fruit. Also, if you rub the rim of the drink with the twist, do so with the peel side not the pith side.

2. Cold drinks should be poured only into glasses that have been chilled. Failing this, glasses should never be warmer than room temp. I once received a formerly cold Martini in a warm glass. I'm sure the glass was hot and fresh from the dishwasher when the drink was poured into it. Believe it or not this was a fairly swanky joint.

Okay, one more:

3. If a drink recipe calls for bitters (Manhattan, Old Fashioned, etc.) use them unless specifically asked not to. Just because the average person--or, worse, the average bartender--has forgotten or never learned the importance of bitters doesn't mean that you should continue this ignorance. Fortunately, bitters are making a modest comeback in both availablity and the understanding of their use so perhaps this ignorance will fade away. Regardless, trust me, most drinks would benefit from a dash of orange and/or angostura bitters but they absolutely must be used in the drinks that include them in the recipe.

Good luck with bartending. I don't have an opinion pro or con on bartending school but you're certainly off to a good start by checking out this forum.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some people don't like being given ten dollars change in a combination of a five and five singles. They feel the bartender is hinting for a tip. I personally don't mind this practice. But some people do mind.

And some people get annoyed if they didn't get the proper change to leave a tip and have to ask for more change right after getting their change. It's a no win situation for the bartender, but I fall on the side of making it easier to tip me. :biggrin:

Maybe I've spent too much time in bars (and in various service jobs) but I think taking offence at receiving change suitable to tipping says a lot more about the customer than it does the bartender. I've never once thought that a server was hinting for a tip by providing change suitable for tipping. If I'm in a tipping situation I damn well expect to receive change suitable for tipping. That's not a hint. That's a valuable service. Why would any server create work for himself and the guest by forcing the guest to ask for smaller change?

As for tips I'd pass along to a new bartender here are a couple:

1. A twist is almost always an ingredient, not just a pretty little piece of yellow added for looks. Make sure the twists are fresh enough and cut to a size that when twisted actual lemon oil is expressed onto the drink. Same goes for twists cut from any other citrus fruit. Also, if you rub the rim of the drink with the twist, do so with the peel side not the pith side.

2. Cold drinks should be poured only into glasses that have been chilled. Failing this, glasses should never be warmer than room temp. I once received a formerly cold Martini in a warm glass. I'm sure the glass was hot and fresh from the dishwasher when the drink was poured into it. Believe it or not this was a fairly swanky joint.

Okay, one more:

3. If a drink recipe calls for bitters (Manhattan, Old Fashioned, etc.) use them unless specifically asked not to. Just because the average person--or, worse, the average bartender--has forgotten or never learned the importance of bitters doesn't mean that you should continue this ignorance. Fortunately, bitters are making a modest comeback in both availablity and the understanding of their use so perhaps this ignorance will fade away. Regardless, trust me, most drinks would benefit from a dash of orange and/or angostura bitters but they absolutely must be used in the drinks that include them in the recipe.

Good luck with bartending. I don't have an opinion pro or con on bartending school but you're certainly off to a good start by checking out this forum.

Kurt

Kurt:

That's pretty much what I meant, and thank you for saying it less sarcastically than I did. :smile: Definitely into avoiding the extra step/annoyance for both the customer and myself.

Totally in agreement with you on the rest as well.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Transferring the tab is the bane of the bartender. The servers never (ever!) give you  the fraction of the tip you did for the service. People are greedy and will take what they can get because there are no rules that states a server has to share their tips. The proper way to do it, is to tip the bartender and then subtract that tip from the final total tip out.

What happens when from the moment I enter a restaurant, I sit down at a table for my meal and order a drink as well. Does the bartender not receive any tips from my payment? That seems rather odd to me since although I am having dinner and the waiter/waitress is serving me, the bartender is still making my drink.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Transferring the tab is the bane of the bartender. The servers never (ever!) give you  the fraction of the tip you did for the service. People are greedy and will take what they can get because there are no rules that states a server has to share their tips. The proper way to do it, is to tip the bartender and then subtract that tip from the final total tip out.

What happens when from the moment I enter a restaurant, I sit down at a table for my meal and order a drink as well. Does the bartender not receive any tips from my payment? That seems rather odd to me since although I am having dinner and the waiter/waitress is serving me, the bartender is still making my drink.

The waitstaff "tips out" the bar at the end of the evening, usually based on a percentage of their beverage sales. But if you have a drink at the bar before dinner and transfer that drink to your check, the bartender will only see a fraction of the tip they should be receiving for that drink, if anything at all, because as dsoneil pointed out, most (not all) servers are just greedy. :angry:

The procedure suggested by dsoneil is indeed the proper way to make sure your bartender is taken care of if you're pleased with the service provided.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mother and father run two bars. What you need to be a good bartender is

#1 People skills, it can't be taught.

#2 learn learn learn how to make drinks, and what each part of the drink does. Which bartending school should help you do.

#3 Be more then a person serving shots. A good bartender is a cornerstore of society. They know everyone's dirt, and how everyone is doing. Learn to listen, give advice that doesn't contain your own opinion.

These are just 3 basic things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And boy would I love to see bartenders wash their hands once in a while, but I've learned to order drinks w/o fruit (lemon/lime) or olives, unless I'm at a place like Pegu, where the mise is set up correctly.

How does Pegu Club do the garnishes? How is their set-up different?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned made with Jack Daniel's instead of Southern Comfort. You wouldn't believe how many times I've had to explain to a bartender how to make the drink. It seems like a classic of the bartender's repertoire, but many have no idea how to make it. Half the time they forget the bitters or the splash of club soda. The rarely smash the orange, cherry, sugar and bitters together preferring to just drop it all in the glass :wacko:

One other suggestion to bartenders-learn how to properly pour a draft beer. Most times there is little head or too much (I hate paying for a full glass when only getting 2/3) and make sure the darn glasses are clean! Soap and other chemical residue on the glass interferes with the quality of the foam on the top of the beer-it should be a mound fine bubbles not a popping froth!

Okay, one more:

3. If a drink recipe calls for bitters (Manhattan, Old Fashioned, etc.) use them unless specifically asked not to. Just because the average person--or, worse, the average bartender--has forgotten or never learned the importance of bitters doesn't mean that you should continue this ignorance. Fortunately, bitters are making a modest comeback in both availablity and the understanding of their use so perhaps this ignorance will fade away. Regardless, trust me, most drinks would benefit from a dash of orange and/or angostura bitters but they absolutely must be used in the drinks that include them in the recipe.


Edited by Pyewacket (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pyewacket, there are a couple of reasons you may not often get what you want on an Old Fashioned. As you rightly point out, Old Fashioned making isn't at a very high level right now. There are also several traditions for making an Old Fashioned. The most traditional kind of Old Fashioned is composed simply of strong spirit, sugar, bitters and a lemon peel with a big piece of ice. No fruit, no muddling, no splash of soda and certainly no Southern Comfort. That's what you would get if you asked for an Old Fashioned in a top NYC bar or at my house. What you're looking for is a not uncommon modern take on the Old Fashioned -- although I would suggest that it's really an entirely different drink -- and even then there are variations. Some people want the fruit muddled, some don't. Some people want soda, some don't. All this is to say that muddled fruit and a splash of soda is by no means standard for an Old Fashioned.

I don't know where Southern Comfort comes from in an Old Fashioned. I've never heard of that. Perhaps some people started using it as a labor-saving measure because it is already sweetened?

In any event, if your preferred formula is Jack Daniels with muddled fruit and a splash of soda, I don't think you can expect that most every bartender will have the same idea as you. It would probably be a good idea to develop a standard and clear set of instructions to use when you order this drink so you always get what you want. I have something similar I developed to use when ordering Martinis, Manhattans and Rob Roys at bars that aren't advanced cocktail places (e.g., "two to one, stirred, up with a twist. . . and gimme a dash of bitters if you have any").


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...I don't know where Southern Comfort comes from in an Old Fashioned.  I've never heard of that.  Perhaps some people started using it as a labor-saving measure because it is already sweetened?....

Pyewacket's post struck me as very familiar. Thankfully the eGullet search function is a pretty good one and I could find out why the absurd idea of Southern Comfort as the correct hooch in an Old Fashioned rang a bell. Pyewacket brought up the same quibble in a Pet Peeves thread a while back. I'm still curious, Pye, what part of the country do you call home? It's very odd, not to mention just plain wrong, that the Old Fashioned (formerly known as the Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail and before that as simply the Whiskey Cocktail) has come to be made without whiskey in your neck of the wape.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you make me an aviation? You just got a $10 tip for a single drink. Ya rly.


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eje posted out an article about a new bar in San Francisco, in the same article they referred to another piece entitled Elements of a Craft Cocktail.

Some interesting tips and opinions on cocktails. Some I agree with, others I don't.

I found this passage amusing:

Classic cocktails with rare ingredients. Many of the drinks from vintage cocktail books cannot be reproduced because the bitters or other ingredients are no longer in production. Rye's Gasparini says they're "always trying to cautiously expand our bitters selection because it can get overwhelming," although they already use eight different kinds. Healdsburg's Cyrus imports water from Kentucky to make branch drinks and ice. Bourbon & Branch uses rare spirits like Tia Maria, Cherry Heering and Benedictine.

I wouldn't say the ingredients they mentioned are rare. I would have been more impressed it they put Creme Yvette, Creme de Violette, Apricot Brandy or Suze on the list.

Otherwise it is an interesting read.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from a bartender's perspective, here's how I see it:

When you come to my bar, you're in MY HOUSE. So what does that mean? It means it's my job to be a good host, be charming, accommodating (to a certain point), attentive, well-collected, ect. While I won't be 100% on all of these at all times, it's still my job to do my best to be a damn good host. I'm hosting the party and I want everyone to have a good time.

On the flip side, it's your job as a patron to be a good guest. Be gracious, understanding, civil, ect. If both parties fulfill their roll in this social contract, every thing should go off without a hitch...


Red Bull/Vodka is the downfall of civilization...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Listen to the customer. If I want a Bombay martini and specifically say "Bombay, not Sapphire" it means I know the difference. If I ask for a gin/vermouth ratio of 6/1 it means I want a martini and not chilled gin. If I ask for a lemon twist and not an olive it means I do not like brine in my gin. Do not bring straight Sapphire on the rocks w/ an olive and wonder why I refuse the drink (do not be surprised....it has happened more than once) and then wonder why I do not tip like a rock star. AND straining the drink through your hands in to a cocktail glass is not going to endear you to me at all (again.....it has happened) especially as there is not much you can do to remove olive brine at this point.

Know your inventory! Granted much of what you have is in sight of the customer but some stuff is not or might be hidden. And if you do not have some thing then you do not have it. Suggest a plausible substitute and apologize for not carrying the brand the customer wants.


in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Cleanliness. The whole hand washing, using ice scoops and spoons for olives thing.

2. No pre-made sweet & sour mix. I know you may not have control of that, but if I know a bartender is willing to take the extra time use fresh citrus and sugar… I’m one very happy, heavy-tipping customer!


"The only time I ever said no to a drink was when I misunderstood the question."

Will Sinclair

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...