Bartending is a real art form, which means rookies will have to practice their craft and learn from their mistakes. We all have to start somewhere, but there are some common mistakes that are preventable. Helping rookie bartenders avoid these mistakes will allow them to focus on making great drinks without causing too much trouble behind the bar and attracting the unwanted attention of frustrated managers. Here are a few common mistakes and ways to prevent them:
Letting Chaos Take Over
It is Saturday night. The bar is packed with customers clamoring for a delicious drink, and the rookie bartender is clearly frazzled. Bartending takes multi-tasking to a whole new level, but that is no excuse to let the bar get dirty. Preventing chaos from taking over means having a system in place. Common tools and bottles should be easily within reach, and there should be a specified order to making a drink and cleaning up the mess before moving on to the next customer.
Using Glasses as Ice Scoops
Simply dipping a glass in the ice bin may seem like a simple time saver, but trust any bartender who has seen this technique go wrong: Use the ice scoop. On a busy night, there is a very slim chance a bartender will notice a hairline fracture in a glass. Once it hits the ice, a small crack can turn into a full break. Now imagine the amount of time it would take to burn off the ice and clean the ice during peak hours. Use the scoop.
Being Overconfident with Pouring Abilities
It takes a lot of practice and muscle memory to be able to pour an exact two ounces or whatever your standard pour is. While this is certainly something that can be practiced, there is no shame in using a measuring jigger to get things right. This technique will prevent heavy-handed cocktails that eat away at the bar's bottom-line, and also protect the integrity of the drink by ensuring the perfect balance of ingredients.
Bartending is an extension of food service, which means that responsible sanitary practices are critical. Green bartenders often make the mistake of grabbing glassware like they are clearing the table at their own home. It is essential that they know to avoid touching the inside of the glass - even dirty ones - at all costs. Managers should get new employees in the habit of using a tray or carrying all glasses from the bottom.
Poor Beer Pours
Pouring the perfect beer requires its own technique. An inexperienced and hurried bartender is more likely to ignore the finer details of drawing a cold pint with just the right amount of foam head. Some simple instruction can help prevent this mistake and ensure customer satisfaction. It all comes down to a little geometry. The empty pint glass should be held at a 45-degree angle with the spout pointed towards the middle of the glass. Once the glass is about full, it can be tipped to 90 degrees and topped off for the perfect pint.
Shaking Instead of Stirring and Vice Versa
It is common, and totally understandable, that new bartenders will end up shaking a drink when they should have stirred and vice versa. For managers, it is important to create an environment where new bartenders aren't afraid to ask questions. Providing information and resources will help them progress quickly.
Mistakes happen, but with a little foresight - and some help from technology - the path from rookie bartender to expert drink slinger can be a little smoother. A lot of it comes down to being organized, informed and relying on a clear operating system.