Our guide to bartending

Our guide to bartending

Published April 28 2014

The world of bartending has become so much more diverse and complex than days previous. Nowadays, more and more pubs and bars are delving into varying areas such as gourmet food and burgers as well as cocktails. What does this mean for you, the everyday bartender? It means that like the industry itself, your skills and knowledge will have to be just as diverse and adapt to the times.  While it isn’t necessary to have a bartending qualification to work behind the taps, a bartending course is great for either preparing you for your first job in the industry or enhancing your existing cocktail knowledge.


What will I learn if I take up a course?

The bartending courses  on offer will vary in their content. Some may be focused solely on cocktails and mixology where as others may just cover the fundamentals of working behind a bar, like customer service skills.

Beginner bartending courses will teach you the various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks you may find yourself serving when working in pub or bar. The vast majority of establishments serving alcohol of course state that you must be over 18 to work there and courses are unlikely to be any different.  Here you will be shown the correct methods of pouring beers whether it’s lager through a tap or ale via a pump as well as spirits training. You’ll be taught the essentials of friendly and attentive customer service in hospitality as well as other general bar duties such as changing beer barrels safely.


Mixing it up!

The more advanced courses on offer tend to be more focused on cocktail making and mixology. Learning to make cocktails, no matter at what level is always good fun as you do often get to try what you create (in moderation...) but don’t be fooled as there is more to cocktail than mixing and shaking some spirits together. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to be juggling cocktail shakers with spirit bottles right away, that takes a lot of flare training!

Beginner mixology sessions will take you through the basic cocktails such as mojitos or white Russians as well the correct terminology for mixing in certain ways. As the levels progress, so does the sophistication in techniques and new cocktails you will learn.


A bit of fun

While it’s true that cocktail making courses can be fun, the more in depth ones are aimed at those looking to start, or improve their career as a bar person or full-on mixologist. However, if that isn’t for you, then there are experience courses out there that involve fun filled cocktail tasting events as well as food too! Perfect for hen and stag parties as well as birthday celebrations, these are aimed at you having fun but from it you will get to know various cocktails and learn how to host the perfect cocktail party!


Career paths and course benefits

You may already be an experienced bar tender looking to move into learning cocktails, or you may be someone looking to take their first steps in the hospitality industry, either way, picking the right bartending course according to your needs and desires will put you in the best position to progress successfully.

As mentioned you don’t necessarily need a qualification to start working as a bartender, but it will make you more attractive to employer, especially if you’re lacking hands on experience. Bar managers tend to hire experienced staff members to save time and possible hassle training you. So getting your foot in the door can be hard without it.

For those looking at mixology courses, there are many career options within the cocktail trade. Though the hours are unsociable and the work can be quite full on, cocktail bartenders always have a lot of fun working and trained professional mixologists can earn quite a bit both in their actual wage as well as pretty hefty tips too!


Drinking responsibly

As well as taking responsibility for yourself when having a few drinks, as a bartender, sometimes you have to make the call that a customer has had too much to drink. If you are regularly drinking more alcohol units than the lower risk guidelines say you shouldn’t exceed per day then you could be affecting your long-term health. Guidelines state that men shouldn’t consume more than three or four units of alcohol a day, equivalent to a pint of beer, and women shouldn’t have more than two or three units which is a standard glass of wine.

Alcohol is also very high in calories. You may not realise exactly how much there is in any given drink but to grasp the idea of it, having five pints of beer will see you consuming the same amount of calories as three burgers!

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