Well, obviously. However, an experience I had last week drove home just how hard being a bartender is and how we need to really appreciate the good ones! With some trepidation, I volunteered with a friend to make cocktails for a fairly large outdoor party. I was both excited and obsessed — several of the cocktail experiments I’ve written about in previous weeks have been in service of this job, specifically the Ocean Side, South Side, Jack Rose, and Pomme en Crout. I’d be embarrassed if I had to show people how many sheets of paper I went through gaming out all of the recipes I was considering producing!
Here’s what I learned throughout the process:
Preplanning is Everything – it took me around five hours to gin up all of the ingredients that went into the four drinks I planned on making, but man did it pay off on the big day. Doing “dry runs” in my mind and in practice helped ensure I’d have enough of everything and spend more time making the drinks vice sputtering around trying to figure out how the various ingredients fit.
Bartenders Need Good Memory – so my memory isn’t the best. It was a bit difficult to memorize the four drinks and I had to check my cheat sheet several times. Now, multiply that by 2 or 3 and add some complexity to the drinks and that’s what a bartender has to do. Gosh….better spend that cash for the Luminosity app….
Organization, Organization, Organization – I have a real hang up with organization — if things aren’t structured or in their place, I freak out. When I set up my table, I spent a good 15 minutes placing everything where I thought they needed to go. Of course, every well-laid plan lasts about five seconds when the fighting starts, so I had to be willing to move things around. For a OCD organization nut like me, that can be hard, but it pays off with less stress and more drinks!
Move Quick – every part of the process should be sped up, at every turn. Does putting the bitters closer to the gin speed this drink up by 2 seconds? Do it. I was always asking myself little speed questions like that, which helped the efficiency and also played to my competitive nature.
It Can Be Fun! – now, obviously, putting out cocktails for free to a crowd that knows you is a far cry from tending a crowded bar full of ravenous and impatient drinkers. Still, I had a ton of fun and I’d really encourage folks who’ve never worked in the service industry to give it a try. It’s a great experience and really deepens your love for the craft — at least it did for me!
At the end of the day I mixed dozens of good cocktails, had a lot of fun, and made people happy. You can’t beat that! But it was also a good reminder — make sure you take care of your bartenders! They work hard!