Be a better bartender: it’s all about hospitality

Be a better bartender

It really is that simple: it’s called hospitality because we are here to be hospitable — and that’s how you can be a better bartender.

Story by Alex Gilmour

Gone are the days when bartenders or any damn fool who picked up a polishing cloth could be rude, insolent or just plain mean. Those days should never have even existed. It’s hospitality. We are here to be hospitable.

This is from the moment you wake up to the second you fall asleep. I know many people will think this a stretch but let me be frank, for a great venue the locals and regulars are the bread and butter. It is definitely important to ensure that the punter who had their raucous party on Saturday night is treated the same way as the sports coach who comes in just for a pint or two on his way home every Tuesday.


As a patron walks into the venue they should be greeted wholeheartedly. As they approach within conversation range, there should be an inquiry as to their health/day/puppy/book as to make them feel welcome and at home. At the very least, if one truly has no interest in their benign daily activity, you should welcome them with warm salutation and offer your services. There is no limitation to kindness and warmth that can be extended to those that are making not only your job possible but, let’s be honest, your night more enjoyable.

A menu should be offered or suggestions made to assist said patron in their mission of liquid nourishment. If the order takes some time there is no need to sigh and absentmindedly doodle on your hand. Be able to answer all the questions your punters might have; revel in the opportunity to introduce them to what your bar has to offer. It is your responsibility to look into new stock, read up on products and ensure you know ingredients. If you have arrived to work in a rush and haven’t made the time to check if the evening’s special is gluten free? It’s not your managers fault — it’s yours.

Punters can be rude; we have all experienced this. From the uneducated, to the stupid, to the horribly drunk and self-righteous. They have their bubble and we have ours. For us it is the right to politely refuse service. If someone is being particularly obnoxious then we reserve the right to prevent them from consuming the precious elixirs they desire so deeply. There are always polite ways to deal with rude people.

The industry is your family. They are your best and worst friends; they are the ones who see you in your most compromising situations and best performances. They know what you eat, drink, smoke, hate, and love. The bar family around you are those that you should back up no matter what. So help to train and expand. Ensure that everybody is on the same level. If you know a particular customer is being particularly difficult to one of the crew, swap stations with them next time the patron approaches.

This also extends to the support network we provide for each other. Help each other. Support each other. It’s really not hard. The utter contempt I feel for the bandwagon beatings and destruction of our peers on social media is limitless. Particularly recently I have seen some disgusting demonstrations of the worst qualities of people in our industry. We are not gods nor are we even titans.

What, in the name of Mayahuel, gives anyone the right to bully a compatriot let a lone bully them from behind a keyboard and screen? I remember the first mentors I ever worked for. I remember them yelling at their staff and I remember the lack of respect and care that was taken in that business when the lights went out. I shudder to think that people who should be banding together and encouraging each others developments, are in fact recklessly destroying those who dare to ask a ‘stupid’ question or petition themselves with ‘underwhelming’ evidence.

Show me any bartender in this industry who has never learnt anything from another person, or functions better in a negative environment and you have found the mythical whiskey excreting unicorn from Lapland.

We are lucky to have the privilege to work in this game and we should cherish our little piece of liquid heaven.

Photo credit: Bigstock


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