Does bartending school help you to get a job? Is it required? It doesn’t help for the trendiest bars, clubs, or lounges. It can help if applying to a slower venue, because filling the bartending position is difficult, turn-over rate is high and management is desperate. The fact is that bar tending schools do NOT teach the real life skills used in high-volume venues.
In House Training
Bar-tending school may help at places that are willing to train a person. Some places that have an in house training program usually hire from within. A lead Bartender from Founding Farmers Restaurant in DC, informed me that as long as a server expresses interest to work behind the bar than they will train them. He also said that “bartending schools are a scam.” So a person in this type of hiring practice must climb the company ladder, compete with other servers that are applying for the bar and deal with politics. Bartending school on the resume just reflects a stronger desire to become a Bartender to hiring managers. Does this give an applicant an edge? As long as the hiring manager isn’t sleeping with your competition than most likely. In summery, bar tending school can help in places that are willing to spend time to train a person. It’s easier to train someone that has a bit of study under their belt. Thanks to fellow bartending blogger Patricia for pointing this out and the input.
Bartending is a Sport
A sport requires training. Bartending school can’t help a person at the trendiest clubs, bars, and ultra lounges. This is the world of high-volume bartending, slinging drinks and where bottle jockeys play. This type of bartending is not domain knowledge and is skill-based. It’s highly competitive, and similar to a sport. Also, it has many qualities of entrepreneurship. It’s a job where you eat what you kill. Bartenders make their income from tips and not their hourly wage of two-dollars and something cents.
Try-Outs or the Interview Process
There are actually two parts to a bartender’s interview. The first phase is the standard cattle call interview. Many show up with a resume and talk with owners or hiring managers for five to ten minutes. This is to see if one will fit in, has no personality disorders, and basically won’t cause drama. If things go well than they “hire” or invite the person to come in. During this time is when the owner and lead bartender can watch the candidates’ bartending skills by throwing them into the wolves. A person is hired if they are fast, there’re no customer complaints and their sales are high.
It’s Eat What You Kill Out There
A Bartender’s skill is graded by their closing sales. It’s a performance based job. It’s the same as a professional athlete in that there is always pressure to ring high sales or get fired. At one club I worked at, the owner would go to each of our tills and print out our closing report. He would say out loud, “I like to see long closing reports!” Because, this would mean that particular bartender sold a lot. If a Bartender’s closing receipt was short the owner would subtly threaten to fire them. This sort of thing happens at the majority of clubs.
It’s a Big Pissing Contest
Imagine every night at the end of the shift your hot model looking co-worker coming up to you and asking, “So how much did you ring?” I’m told the competitiveness in between the females is worst, because it gets catty.
The nature of bartending creates competitiveness between co-workers. At the close of every shift Bartenders will always ask each other what their sales are to compare. It’s a big pissing contest. The one who has the highest sales is allowed to choose which station to work at and or will be given the point. “Point” refers to the part of the bar that is the busiest and gets hit the hardest. The person with the lowest sales will be stereotyped as “the slowest bartender” by their colleagues and the owners. So everybody wants to be the Kobe Bryant of the team, and be on point. It makes the most money (if tips aren’t pooled).
Girls Have an Edge
Guys, must know that male bartenders are at a disadvantage compared to our female counterparts. It wasn’t easy working next to female bartenders that looked like models or that were former playboy models. They have a certain edge in the game. Bartending is like porn, because women bartenders make way better tips and are the stars. Guy bartenders are just there for the heavy lifting. Also, a pretty girl has a much higher chance to be hired on the spot. Despite being at a disadvantage, I prevailed and consistently rang the highest and set the record in sales and tips at one of the most popular clubs in DC. In the end it ultimately comes down to mastering the skill-set of bartending.
I hope that I’ve described the true nature of the job well. Bartending schools can help a person to have confidence during tryouts, because they’ve had the chance to feel what it’s like to pour a few times while in the classes. Bartending is skill-based just as sports or martial arts. Skills take time, training and repetition to ingrain into muscle memory. Reading from a book and memorizing drinks will not cut it in a high pressure competitive environment. The Bartender we commonly see who are mixing incredible cocktails have already mastered high-volume bar tending, and moved onto the art and science of mixology. There are many kinds of Bartenders and some choose to specialize in certain areas. 🙂
For more insights and advice on breaking into the industry check out podcasts by Bartender Journey. I met them on twitter a few days ago and have listened to episode 7. They gave solid advice and want to talk about how the industry really is. This is also one of the many things I’ll be bloging about to help those trying to break in.