Once thought of as a relatively menial position with little potential for personal or professional growth, bartending has come into its own in recent years. Celebrity bartenders and liquor professionals like Salvatore “The Maestro” Calabrese and Audrey Sanders have elevated the art of cocktails to another level entirely. The new-found prestige that bartending has attained has been responsible for an explosion of interest in the field. There are plenty of reasons to become a bartender, and just as many ways to make it happen.
In a nutshell, bartenders take care of almost everything related to the serving of beer, wine and spirits at bars and taverns around the country. From corporate gigs at chain restaurants to positions at boutique, specialty establishments, there are a multitude of employment possibilities open to skilled bartenders. Mixing drinks is actually just a small part of the job description. The best bartenders are equal parts therapist, versatile entertainer, trivia expert and matchmaker. Being Sam Malone from Cheers can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling jobs one can find if you have the right temperament.
There are a number of great perks to the job itself. For starters, bartenders can make a lot of money in tips if they know what they’re doing. The position also typically features a high degree of flexibility, the ability to network and little necessary training. The main downsides are a lack of job security, late hours and an occasionally rowdy clientèle. As for pay, the average full-time bartender in 2011 made $21,550 per year, though tips can be substantially higher at certain high-volume establishments.
There are essentially two routes one can take when becoming a bartender. You can either take a bartending class at professional bartending school or you can take whatever job you can find locally at your neighborhood pub and work your way up. Regardless of which direction you decide to go in, you’ll need to be well-versed in all manner of cocktail recipes. An attention to detail, a deep knowledge of spirits and drink ingredients, quick hands and a friendly smile are all must-haves if you want to make it in this industry.
Bartending is about more than just slinging suds and babysitting inebriated adults. It’s also about helping your customers to enjoy life to the fullest. Anyone can drink at home. They go out to the bar to socialize and celebrate. Whether you’re interested in bartending as a full-time occupation or as a part-time source of additional income, you’ll find that there’s no shortage of jobs available in and around your own hometown if you’re motivated, hardworking and sociable.