The Bartender Bible

The bartender bible will help you get that awesome job.

Bartenders have long been considered the aristocracy of the working-class. The job offers a fun environment, good money, and flexible hours. Perhaps because of this, many people think finding employment as a bartender is difficult, and that graduation from a bartending school is the only way to break in.

That's not the case. Finding work as a bartender requires two things: a willingness to start at the bottom, and the mastery of a few simple drinks. After that, you can go anywhere.

Unlike busy nightclubs, many small, neighborhood bars have trouble filling shifts. This is either due to a high employee turnover rate, or because certain shifts don't generate a bartender much money--a weekend morning, say.

The beginner should seek out such a slow shift. He'll not only appear gracious to his new boss, but he'll be given time to learn on the job.

The reason so many bartenders break into the business without any experience is that they haven't already developed bad habits. A bar-owner may not care that you don't know the difference between a salty dog and a white russian, but a heavy-hand he won't forgive.

To get ready for your first day on the job, buy a pour-spout at a supermarket and practice pouring water into a shot glass. By counting to yourself while doing this, you'll later be able to gauge how much liquor you should pour into a cocktail glass. A 3- or a 5-count is customary, depending on how fast you count.

Once you know how much to pour, you only need to know what to pour. Beer is the most frequently sold drink at many neighborhood bars, and the majority of mixed drinks are so self-explanatory--vodka-tonic, bourbon-Coke--that you'll only need to familiarize yourself with the soda-gun. In the beginning, you may enounter a few "complicated" drinks--margaritas and daquiris, John and Tom Collins', bloody mary's--but these can be learned from any bartending recipe book.

With that, you'll have a foundation that will keep 95-percent of your customers happy. You'll also be on your way to a better shift, at a busier bar.

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