"When you get experience working in a bar, you'll be able to find work anywhere in the World"
We spoke to Jason who’s been working as a bartender for the last 12 years. He gave us insight into what a typical day is like - perfect for anyone who’s thinking of following a similar career path. Here’s what Jason had to say about a normal shift.
Preparing for a Busy Shift
It’s Saturday morning and Jason knows that he has a big night ahead of him. It’s the busiest day of the week at the bar and he’s preparing himself for the challenge. Because he’ll be working until late, he made sure he had a good night’s sleep.
Jason said: “When you’ve got a big, long shift ahead of you and you know you’re going to be on your feet for 12-14 hours, it always helps to have a good sleep the night before.”
Now he’s nice and rested, it’s time for breakfast ("a good healthy breakfast that’s going to release energy throughout the day,” according to Jason) and most importantly, the choice of footwear.
He said: “It’s really important that you have something on your feet that’s going to protect you and give the support that your legs need to get you through the day. Otherwise, you’ll get home and be aching and covered in blisters.”
What Jason’s trying to say is that if you choose footwear that doesn’t offer the same support and protection, it’s more likely you’ll have to deal with aches and pains.
“The golden rule for being a bartender is to look after your feet. You’re on your tippy-toes for 40, 50 or 60 hours a week, depending on the type of bar you’re in.
“I’d recommend Shoes For Crews for that all-important foot support. Having been a bartender for 12 years, Shoes For Crews are the best for my ankles and feet. Definitely no pain after those long days.”
Jason is currently wearing Cater II from our range of specially created bartending shoes. They’re slip-resistant, supportive and designed to keep you on your feet during even the longest shifts.
Making Sure the Bar is Ready
Once he’s arrived at the bar, Jason starts with the day’s first tasks. This usually consists of restocking the bar after the night before. It’s all about making sure everything is prepared beforehand so the shift can go as smoothly as possible. He’ll also think about which beers are available and if there are any promotions the bar is running on certain drinks.
“The first thing I’d do when starting the day is go and look at the bar and see which fresh beers we have on today, what we’re selling and what we’re really looking forward to sharing with our guests.”
Having a detailed knowledge of what’s available each shift will make customer orders faster and less likely to end in disappointment.
The Shift Begins...
Working as a bartender can be fast-paced and you’ll need to make sure you’re switched on and engaged with your guests. Even when the bar is at its busiest, you’ll need to provide the same outstanding level of customer service. Otherwise guests might take their business elsewhere.
Jason thinks that detail-oriented people usually succeed as bartenders. He said: “An important skill to have as a bartender is attention to detail. You have customers to look after but you’ve also got the products that you’re selling. "You’ve got to make sure everyone is served in time and in a polite, friendly manner.”
With so many drinks orders and glasses in use, there’s likely to be the occasional dropped glass that needs to be cleaned up. After 12 years behind the bar, Jason knows to act quickly to make sure the hazard is dealt with. “Usually a big cheer goes up. You just have to keep your cool, smile and get a dustpan and brush to deal with it straight away.”
Not every shift will be hectic and bartenders can take advantage of the quieter shift to make sure the bar is stocked, tidy and ready for the next night.
Jason told us: “During a slow shift, you can always just pick up a cloth to start dusting down or polish glasses. There’s always cleaning and tidying to be done in the cellar too. The days of standing behind the bar and doing a quiet crossword are long, long gone.”
Unwinding After a Long Shift
After so many hours on your feet, you might think you’d just want to head straight to bed. Jason says that isn’t always the case, especially if the shift was especially challenging. It’s usually good to have a little bit of time to relax and unwind once last orders are called.
Whether that means meeting up with friends for a quick nightcap or just watching an episode of a TV show - giving your brain time to calm down will ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
“It’s always good to have some downtime after a shift. You can’t really just switch off and go straight to bed.”
Would You Recommend Bartending to Others?
Jason loves working as a bartender and the career path he’s taken.
“If I were to sum up being a bartender in three words, they’d be ‘a performance art’ - the bar is your stage and you’re an actor. You have to give this performance...you have to give that injection of personality. You’re not just a human vending machine.
“No two days are the same. You’re meeting new people all the time and get to work with some really fantastic people. There’s no more colourful, vibrant, diverse and interesting characters than bartenders.”
If this sounds like the perfect career for you, then make sure to download our guide today. It’s packed with useful tips and advice that will help you to reach your goals of working as a bartender. From communicating with your team to helping customers, it’ll help you to develop all the skills you need to be the very best bartender.