Bartending Class – Week 2, Day 1

Another day down, and another day closer to finishing my bartending class.  Today we were really moving. Jeff was our instructor again along with Chris, who I gather is a potential new instructor and was just observing as she did not interact with the class.

We started with a drink drill again, going over drinks that we had accumulated in our “arsenal” since the class began. I was a bit apprehensive as class started, wondering if I would remember what we had gone over last weekend. I didn’t have much time to study this week and was really surprised with how much stuck with me. The hands on learning in a realistic looking bar setting really helped put everything together. The music was pumping in through the sound system again and everyone got right back into the groove.

After the drill we talked about good bartending techniques and the amazing cash rewards some bartender’s have earned through the trade. A former instructor once made $1,700 in tips during one night of service! Almost $100 dollars of this amazing total came as a result of making one drink. A customer asked the bartender to make his favorite drink, one that many bartenders get wrong. The customer put a hundred dollar bill down and said that if the drink, a Planters Punch, was made correctly the bartender could keep the change. Playing the part of a dumb and clueless bartender in a joking way, the bartender “guessed” the ingredients and made a perfect Planters Punch.  He got to keep the change!

Two key lesson’s learned about bartending where these:

  1. The job of a bartender is to generate repeat business through his/her craft.
  2. When asked during an interview why you want to be a bartender, a good answer is “Because the harder I work, the more money I make”. You are not there for the people or to have fun. If you make money the rest takes care of itself.

The framing of the bartender’s trade through the lens of a business was interesting again and good to re-enforce. After all, despite your reasons for choosing this job, hiring managers are concerned about the bottom line, just like any other business.

After break we went over a new glass type which we would be using, the cocktail or martini glass.  We also went over cutting techniques for limes and lemons creating slice garnishes and twists respectively. Now we were ready to round out our knowledge with Martinis and Manhattans, often measures of bartending skill.

Martinis and Manhattans were surprsingly easy to make given the ingredients, but complex given the show and knowledge that is expected from the bartender. We breezed through variations and worked on some quick shooters before class ended.

As we cleaned up our stations we were reminded that we have a final that we must pass in order to pass the class and get our certificate. Visions of a culinary practicum came to mind. Jeff even made the comparison of cooking and bartending and discussed the necessity of tasting drinks to become familiar with their ingredients and interactions together in the real world.

The exam tomorrow consists of a written portion as well as a demo session where we will be asked to prepare drinks from memory, using the key steps for customer service and preparation. We’ll have to use the correct ingredients, combination method, glass types and garnishes. I’m looking forward to the exam and hope that I have studied enough. I know I will feel proud after passing validating my newly acquired skillset. Stay tuned for the results.

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