April 29 2012

The Curse of Graduating from Bartending School

So anyway, when I was like 20 or something I went to bartending school because I thought it would be cool to be a bartender and I could get chicks or whatever like Tom Cruise.

The class was taught by one of these old school bartender types who were obsessed with the perfection of the martini. He was cool and had huge respect for the profession of bartending.

And he was way strict about certain thing. Certain etiquette. Certain style. Passionate about the basics. A Master Teacher.

I never bartended in real life beyond pulling the tap on a beer thing so I quickly forgot pretty much everything I learned drink-wise. But I’d say for a week or so I had 50 different kinds of drinks stuffed in my head. Pink Ladies, Grasshoppers, Dark and Stormys, Rusty Nails. I knew how to make all of them.

Of course, those drinks all quickly disappeared from my memory in a cloud of smoke — but I was always left with the basics I’ve learned from that class and they annoyingly haunt me every time I go to a bar to this day. Because I know what a professional bartender looks like.


Here’s the five basic things I remember:

1. Eye contact.

(Master Teacher said, as soon as someone sits down at your bar, make quick eye contact with them acknowledging their presence. Even if you can’t get to them for a while — that simple nod makes people relax when waiting for a drink. So now whenever I’m waiting for a drink and the bartender is running around not looking at me– I’m cursed with noticing that they’re not good at their job.)

2. Don’t scoop ice with a glass.

(This one seems pretty basic but I still see some bartenders do it now and then. The idea is — if the glass breaks… now you have sharp glass in your ice. You gotta dump out all your ice. And you suck.)

3. Keep your bar clean.

(Master Teacher was crazy serious on this one. Even if you work in the worst dive bar– you gotta keep your bar clean. If I see old glasses, crumped up napkins, and chewed straws laying around for way too long I know the bartender sucks.)

4. Know when to do Comps/Buy Backs.

(Although I don’t usually drink enough to warrant a buy back, I feel like the idea of this is falling away from most bars. On a night when I might go out and drink a bunch of beers with friends, it’s really rare nowadays that the bartender will pick up a round. Maybe it’s because I’m going to more grown up bars– but I feel like this used to be alot more common. And we’d always tip all over em so wtf…).

5. One bottle. One touch.

(Master Teacher taught us a serious process. Let’s say someone order four drinks: Vodka tonic, vodka gimlet, gin and tonic, and a Mojito. There’s an order to make those drinks. You put your glasses out for all four. You do the ice. All four. Set it up. You pour the vodka for ALL the drinks that take vodka. One bottle one touch. You pour the lime juice for all the drinks that need lime juice. You make all the drinks at the same time in the most efficient way possible. You don’t make a vodka tonic. Then make a vodka gimlet. Then start in on the mojito. One by one. etc. When I see a bartender doing stuff one by one it makes me nuts now.)

There’s probably a bunch more basics that I’m forgetting — and I’m not a bartender. But I feel like these five things should be in every bartender’s head– because they stuck in mine and I don’t even do that job. This is just stuff I learned from one friggin week in bartending school taught me.

If you hadn’t guessed — I experienced a bad bartender this weekend and am still grumpy about it. Happy Monday all!

ok bye!


Brandon says:



The Real Brandon

The REAL Anderson Cooper says:

Thanks for letting me pack your fudge last night, Brandon sweetie.

Oh, wait… are we not doing the whole “Brandon is an annoying asshole” thing anymore? My bad.

Brandon says:

Please keep your childish attempts at making fun of me to the proper location on this site.

Thank you in advance,

The Real Brandon.

ZZZZZ says:

Blah blah blah

Sticky Seats says:

Now here’s the real top five bartender rules.

1. Make everyone you don’t like wait a long time.
2. Save your comp drinks to trade for drugs.
3. Overcharge customer/Under ring cash register.
4. Share tips with no one.
5. Steal Nab and Take whatever isn’t nailed down.

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