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Some Advice For Bartenders

by Warrick Steabben on February 14, 2014

Bartending can be a lot of fun. But, once you’ve done a few long shifts, there are some elements of the job that can quickly dispel all those images of partying hard gleaned from overexposure to Cocktail and Coyote Ugly. At RSA Melbourne, we want to prepare you for everything the world of bartending can throw at you, so here are a few bartending home truths.

Fun for Bartenders
  1. It’s wet and wild. And not in a good way. You know why most bars have a uniform of black on black? It’s impossible to avoid spills and, as alcohol contains sugar, not only is bar work dirty and wet, it’s also sticky. By the end of a shift, your average bartender is soaked from head to toe and smells, well, like a brewery.
  2. Say what? Even the smallest bars have background music or TV on constantly. That, along with general chit-chat, makes it really hard for bartenders to hear. Surrounded by noise all night, it can be particularly tricky for bar staff to make pleasant small talk at the end of long shift because it’s really hard to focus on what one person is saying over competing background noises. It’s even got a name: the cocktail party effect.
  3. Hands off the goods! That doesn’t just mean don’t grope the bar staff (but obviously, don’t!) it also means don’t manhandle the bar equipment. Think about it. All those garnishes and finishing touches are carefully pre-prepped to make the evening go smoothly and yet every time you turn round, there’s a customer pawing at the straws, poking the lemon slices or helping themselves to a wedge of lime. Those bits and pieces are going to be going in someone else’s drink, so don’t handle them directly and don’t let anyone else, either.
  4. How are your customers getting home? One of the most unsettling aspects of bar work can be the responsibility felt by bar staff for their customers and if someone looks the worse for wear and doesn’t seem to have anyone looking out for them, it can be hard to shake off the nagging worry that they might attempt to drive home. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to ask.
  5. Tired is a state of mind. A lot of people work long hours but unlike desk jockeys, bartenders’ hours are spent standing up. At the end of a busy shift that can really take its toll on feet and joints. It’s worth it to wear comfortable shoes.
  6. A nod and a wink. The “nod” is the magic communication between bartender and customer. For the bartender, giving a customer “the nod” can calm the mood; it lets them know they’re next in line and the bartender knows it. Better still, getting the nod back can be just about the nicest part of a busy shift. It’s an acknowledgement that the customer knows you are busy and appreciates that you’re trying your best.