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5 Steps on how to become a bartender

What we will cover

  • 5 hands-on steps to become the best bartender ever

  • Bartending is much more than just knowing how to make a cocktail

  • Take one of our courses and we will tell you all the details

So you want to become a bartender? Before you continue reading, let's just take a step back. Think! Think some more. Are you absolutely sure you're ready for long hours, intense night shifts and becoming a cocktail-slinging vampire? Then this blog is for you and we assure you, it's all worth it! In this blog, we will discuss 5 steps you can take to become a bartender.

"The average bartender, despite the slanders of professional moralists, is one of self-respect and self-possession; one who excels at a difficult art and is well aware of it; one who shrinks from ruffianism as from uncleanliness; in short, a gentleman.."

-H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Sun, May 11th, 1919-

Step 1: Take the first step

So, first things first. You want to become a bartender, but you have no clue where to start. Start by asking yourself why you want to become a bartender. The job of a bartender has its perks, it has its ups, but also its downs. When you go to a bar and see the bartenders have fun, entertaining their guests and whip up awesome cocktails, just remember that there's another side. One that guests don't usually see. 

The long nightly shifts, the agony of dealing with drunk and annoying guests, rapid body deterioration. Yup, bartenders also have to deal with that. 

Either way, it is important for you to define the reason why you want to become a bartender.

Once you've done that, and you're positive that bartending is for you, it's time to start becoming a bartender.

Step 2: Practice makes perfect

Bartending is not a job that should be taken lightly. It takes years and years of long hours and countless night shifts for bartenders to become skillful craftsmen. But hey, you must start somewhere right?

There are many paths you can take in order to become a bartender. Obviously bartending is not just mastering one skill, but multiple ones.

As a bartender, one of your duties is to pour drinks. So it would be logic to start with learning how to pour drinks. But, do you actually know what you're pouring? Which brings us to the next steps: 

  • Cocktail and spirit Knowledge

  • Mise en place

  • Bartending Techniques (Shake, Stir, Muddle, Build, Blend, Layered, Roll)

  • Mixology

  • Speed & Efficiency

  • Multiple drinks making

All of the above mentioned are bartending skills that you have to master.

Bartending schools are great for people that want to learn and/or master these skills. At the Bols Bartending Academy we have different courses for different levels of bartending. If you want to learn how to bartend and you don't know what a shaken cocktail is, then you'd probably want to start at your basic introductory level course

Bartending Schools give people the opportunity to practice and improve their bartending skills. 

Step 3: Land a bartending job

Now that you have a little bit of basic experience and knowledge, start applying for a bartending job. As a starting bartender, you would probably love to work at your favorite high-end cocktail bar. It seems like the best place to improve your skills. So you draft your bartender resume, hand it in and you get rejected with the simple reason of not having enough experience.

Yeah, that happens a lot. Your best bet is to start at a restaurant, a neighborhood bar, or a sports bar. A place that can teach you the basics of bartending. Maybe that bar doesn't serve high volumes of cocktails, but I bet you they sell a lot of beer, wines, and mixed drinks. During our bartending courses, we always explain that bartending is so much more than just knowing how to make cocktails. You have to be fast; you have to work smart; you have to be an entertainer and you have to be a multitasker. Start working on those bartender skills first, build up that bartender resume, and become better.

Step 4: Excel & Grow

Once you have more experience in bartending, it is time for the next step in your career. What type of bartender do you want to be? The all-rounder? The hotel bartender? The competition veteran? The options are limitless. It doesn't matter what you choose. Just make sure you always learn as much as possible, grow as much as possible, and excel at your job. Believe me, people will start noticing!

Step 5: Books, books, books

Never stop learning. That is our motto at the Bols Bartending Academy. We live and breathe that motto. Our trainers are always on the hunt for more knowledge. Because the more we know, the better we can train our students in becoming better bartenders. The same goes for you as a starting bartender. 

There are countless cocktail books and bartender manuals available. From basic drink-making techniques to advanced mixology and experimental cocktail creation.

Here's a couple of books we advise all starting bartenders to get their hands on:

As a starting bartender, you live in an amazing time where knowledge is vast and accessible It has never been easier to learn a trade. Bartending can be a beautiful career, that should be respected and treated as such.

If you want to start your journey in becoming a bartender, check out the One Day Bartending Course at the Bols Bartending Academy.

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