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How to Become a Bartender

There are many reasons to consider becoming a bartender, and many potential benefits to doing so. It’s hard to find a casual drinking adult who has not as some point contemplated how great it would be to run a bar.

In order to learn how to become a bartender, you will need, at minimum, a bartending guide and supplies. Of course the most basic supplies are simply glasses, alcohol, and other mixing ingredients; however, successful bars will have more than this. First off, there are different kinds of glasses: tall glasses, short, steins, pints, pitchers, shot glasses and more. For the best mix drinks you will also need a reliable shaker. Some drinks are best served after being blended. Depending on your needs and how many people you plan to be serving, you might need only a few of these things, or you might need all of them.

Additionally, there are important supplies that sometimes go overlooked. Bottle openers, trays and liquor dispensers are probably a little less thought of than some of the above supplies, but they are no less essential. After all, you can’t go far in a bar without a bottle opener. Also included in this category would be such basic supplies as spoons, knives, napkins, olives and more.

A few of these items, such as the shaker or the liquor dispenser, require some effort to master. However, with some practice, all of these supplies can become second-nature and easy to use.

After some substantial practice mixing drinks, certain drinks will be as easy and natural to make as pouring a glass of water. However, even seasoned bartenders will need a memory refresher when it comes to more obscure or particular drinks. Since nobody can memorize an entire bartender guide, it is useful to keep one on hand.

These guides are useful if you are running are bar, certainly; but they can also be useful in the home when you want to experiment with new drinks. By using either the liquors you already have, or by looking into the guide and purchasing specific new ingredients, you can open up the tastes available to you.

A book to be kept near the bar is probably the best, most convenient option, simply since you have the measurements and instructions for all drinks in front of you as you pour them. However, many drink recipes and guides are also available online. This can also be helpful if your guide for whatever reason is missing a particular drink or recipe.

If you have all of these things, it is possible to train yourself. However, in many cases it is more effective to go through an official training program; these programs will generally also give you a bartending license, which will make you more hirable if you are seeking to mix drinks outside of your own home.

Bartending Schools

Many of these training programs can be completed online, often quite quickly. There are also bartending schools and courses located throughout the country. If you aren’t sure what kind of course or program is best for you, it might be a good idea to ask a local bartender about his or her own training experience

More often than not, bartenders are hired with little or no experience – only because they have a connection or an “in” with the owner. While these rookies will eventually learn the fundamentals of making drinks, only bartending schools can teach students how to make the IBA’s (International Bartender Association) list of official cocktails.

The IBA’s list includes several drinks taught in bartending schools, including:

  • Rob Roys
  • Manhattans
  • Kamikazes
  • White/Black Russians

Most bartending schools can be completed in only two weeks, offering classes to at all time periods to accommodate any type of work schedule. The National Bartenders Bartending School also boasts the effectiveness of their job placement assistance for those who complete the course.





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