How to become a bartender
Become a bartender: application, suitability & salary
The bartender is the person behind the bar who serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks of all kinds. In addition to contact with different people and tips, being a bartender is also associated with night working hours and physical exertion. The requirements also vary greatly depending on the area of application and position. A bartender in a five-star hotel has to be internationally oriented and speak excellent English with customers, whereas a bartender in a disco only concentrates on serving drinks. Other locations are the classic bar or a job in a restaurant.
The barista, on the other hand, only prepares coffee specialties. Knowledge of the types of coffee, roasting and operation of the machine are important here.
Bartender preparing a cocktail
Bartender flambéing a cocktail
Communicative vein:A bar is a place where all kinds of people come together. Therefore, you should enjoy being around people and be able to hold conversations without any problems. A friendly and open manner are among the most important characteristics here. But internal communication with waiters and barbacks (bartender assistants) also has to work smoothly despite the hectic and noisy environment.
High load capacity: Most of the time you work all night and come home very late. In addition, a bartender only stands and is always on the move, which is why a certain level of physical fitness is required. Since the customer is always king, you have to have a thick skin, as some drunken guests lose their inhibitions with the last sip of alcohol.
Good memory: A bartender must always know the drinks on the menu, which is why a strong memory is essential. In addition to the drinks, there is also the respective inventory of a bar and certain ingredients of the spirits. A good bartender offers a guest with a wheat allergy who does not want to do without his Moscow Mule a vodka made from rye.
Multitasking: You almost always have to prepare several drinks at the same time and, in addition to serving, make sure that all spirits are available. But other ingredients such as lemon wedges or the tabasco for a Bloody Mary should not be missing. But you learn to work in several places over time and develop an intuition for your bar and inventory.
In the beginning, practice with water and plastic bottles so that you don't waste the expensive whiskey or create unnecessary piles of broken glass. For example, here are the instructions for a cool trick that you can use to inspire your customers!
Two ways to become a bartender
Many years of experience (3-4 years) and training in the industry are required in the upscale gastronomy and hotel industry. In normal bars, new bartenders with training as hotel or restaurant specialists are accepted, who then gain experience in a year of further training at the bar. Then you can use a private school to prepare for the qualification as a certified bartender IHK before a Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). The duration of the training varies between 108 and 148 hours of seminars, which can be completed within 12-20 days depending on the training facility. The average cost is 1,600 EUR, but it depends on the city and the company.
From runner to bartender
However, many bars employ runners who support the bartender as assistants and are trained by him with the aim of working at the bar themselves at some point. Here, the necessary knowledge and skills must be acquired through personal initiative. Typical tasks of a runner are increasing the bar, collecting empty glasses and being responsible for the cleanliness of the premises. Make it clear to your employer right from the start that you are trained and want to work as a bartender so that there are no misunderstandings.
Regardless of which path you choose to be successful, you have to tirelessly educate yourself and learn everything you need to know about bar customers! Gather as much experience as possible to convince your future employers with solid references!
Working hours, wages & tasks of a bartender
Depending on the workplace, a week can be different. The week starts rather calmly in bars and increases from day to day. The focus here is on the weekends or booked events. A popular hotel is usually busy all week long, as many international guests stay here. Discos rely on classic weekend operations. The typical working hours for the weekend start at 6 or 8 p.m. and only end after the last guest, the subsequent cleaning and preparation for the next day. It is not uncommon here that you are only at home in the early hours of the morning. However, this all varies according to the location and position. In many large cities and generally in tourist areas every day often looks like this.
Average salary for a bartender
The hourly wages are based on experience and can fluctuate depending on the specific job.
The hourly wage varies greatly depending on the region and position: a bartender in a big city, such as Munich, earns more than his colleague in a new federal state. Starting with the statutory minimum wage of EUR 9.50 per hour (or EUR 10.10 for the temporary work sector in the new federal states), it goes up to state-certified barman, for whom an hourly wage of EUR 25 is not uncommon. However, these always bring valuable experience and customers can create a cocktail according to their wishes. On average, however, as a bartender you earn EUR 12 an hour. On a Friday you work about ten hours, so you can expect a wage of 85 to 120 EUR.
In addition to their wages, bartenders can expect tips, which for a full-time employee who works on the weekends can be between 500 and 800 EUR per month. You can find out what you have to consider when tipping and how you can increase it in the article Tips for waiters. But there are also differences when it comes to tips: from the barkeeper in a student bar to the owner of mobile cocktail bars and employment in the most expensive hotel bars in the world.
Before we start, there are still a few things that need to be done, such as cutting the types of fruit required for the drinks and polishing glasses. If there's a happy hour on mojitos on your shift, you should definitely prepare more lime and mint than usual. In addition, all spirits must be available and you should coordinate with your team about the course of the evening and the distribution of tasks.
Here are some questions that absolutely need to be clarified:
- Who takes care of the floor?
- Who takes care of the cocktail ingredients?
- Who will take care of the ice cream?
- Who will take care of the glasses & spirits?
From now on, only the bar and your guests count, whom you sometimes have to provide with cocktails every minute and who ask for an open ear from you. If you and your team are well established, you can concentrate fully on your task and don't have to worry about missing ice cream or limes. A good bartender has the necessary knowledge when it comes to choosing glasses or the various spirits and cocktails. Guests are thrilled when you tell them the story of their favorite cocktail.
No matter if student, manager or celebrity: A bartender serves people from all camps. This is exactly why you have to make sure that the customers feel comfortable at the bar and are happy to come back. If a customer is dissatisfied, always stay friendly and find an appropriate solution that everyone is happy with. Enthusiastic guests tell their friends and recommend the bar to others.
After the last guest, the work is not done yet. The bar has to be clean again and prepared for the next working day. This includes replenishing and counting the bottles used, as well as counting the glasses and cutlery. Leave the bar as you would like it to be at the start of your shift. Depending on the position, the bar purchases as well as the accounting at the end of the day are also part of the tasks of a bartender.
Since you are usually exhausted from serving, mistakes often creep in at the end of the cleaning process or important tasks are forgotten. Just make a note of all the steps and always work through them according to the same pattern, this will minimize errors and quickly develop a careful routine!
Impressions and comments on the bartender job
"I like being a bartender because it is always a good atmosphere. Everyone is happy to be out partying and having a good time. I also love the opportunity to be able to educate customers on what they are drinking and also helping them to find theirs new favorite drink. My profession is one of the jobs where you meet new people everyday and get to know about their lifes, and that never gets boring! Also the tip is not bad. "
Melissa Williams, Bartender, Sydney, Jan.
"During my Work & Travel year in Australia I started working as a bartender. In this short time I got to know a lot of different people and had unforgettable nights! Yes, the weekend shifts were really stressful and exhausting, but also really fun I quickly realized that internal communication and teamwork were the most important success factors. "
Vahdet Cagli, bartender, Berlin, 24.
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