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Want to become a bartender? Here are 19 things you need to know.

At some point almost everyone says, “I’m quitting this blankety-blank job and becoming a bartender.” Because Thrillist thinks that’s basically the most admirable life decision in the universe, we talked to House of Walker® bartenders from all over America to find out what you really need to know if you’re considering making a career behind the bar your next step in life.

Don’t go to bartending school: All you’ll learn are bad habits someone else will have to train out of you, and maybe a few halfway decent habits that still won’t help, because “every bar is a snowflake, and every bar owner uses a different system.”

Don’t pad your resume: Did you know that every bartender in America knows each other? You'll definitely get busted.

Practice eye contact: It’s surprisingly difficult -- and if you can’t do it, you’re cooked.

A Classic Cocktail

Bone up on classics, worry about the rest later: Classics (Daiquiri, Old Fashioned, Rob Roy, Martini, Margarita…) teach you balance. After that, our bartenders say it’s surprisingly easy to learn billions of modern recipes on the job.

Prepare to keep your cool: “If you don’t have the ego strength to be unflappably, almost psychotically nice to everybody 100% of the time, there’s no future for you in this industry.” It won’t be easy -- you’re going to be shocked by the... er... unpredictable demands of your customers. Some tricks for dealing:

  • Focus on process: you’ve got drink orders, food orders, and processing to handle in the order patrons have been waiting. Finger-snappers and money wavers will just have to wait.
  • Work on your “polite with undertones of wryness” voice. You’ll be amazed at how being the wittier one can stymy rowdy behavior.
  • Pretend unruly people are close friends or relatives who you always show patience with, even when they’re terrible.

Prepare to be totally uncool, man: Cutting someone off will be the hardest thing you’ll have to do (“To this day, I still have a hard time telling a grown man he’s done”), but adulthood and responsibility aren't always attached at the hip, and when they're not, laying down the law's 100% on you.

Nice chair

Say goodbye to your chair: The average American sits eight hours a day. Bartender shifts run longer than eight hours. And as the old saying goes, “There is no sitting in bartending”.

Watch YouTube selectively: YouTube is “the best and the worst”. There’s a lot out there that’ll help you improve (Small Screen Network vids), but there are also old guys who look like pawn shop owners who don’t know the difference between Cuba Libres and Daiquiris.

Sharpen the basic math skills you abandoned after high school: “If you're rubbish at counting, you're not going to make it.”

But don’t fire your CPA: If you work for a chain or hotel, you’ll be reporting everything. Otherwise, cash is king, but the IRS has been cracking down more lately, and anyway, people with credit cards don’t believe in monarchies.

Get a feel for the flow: This is pretty zen, but: spy on masters of chaos -- bartenders on busy nights where they're making 15 drinks at a time, sous chefs holding down the line in a frantic kitchen, even cops at a crowded intersection. Pair that with smelling when a food order’s ready and hearing “bourbon rocks” over “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and you’ll be the Baryshnikov of the Bartender Ballet. Minus the tights. Hopefully.

Be willing to barback: Many badass bartenders begin there, and once you’ve got that job, the call-up could come quickly. You won’t be wasting time: “You learn speed, bar flow, product knowledge, and precision from being a bar back. Let the things you learn at the bottom be the foundation for making it to the top.”

On a slow night, ask your local for a guest shift: Guest shifts are infinity times more instructive than serving drinks at home to friends, who’ll either uncritically say you’re great, or that you’re the worst. Use them to learn how the bar works, and how everyone works together. Ask too many questions, because you can’t ask too many questions.

Don’t treat your friends too well: They should be there to support you, not the other way around. Instead of charging them $7 for a $150 tab, give ‘em the same service you’d give any good customer.

Nutmeg Grater

Roll in packing: Bring your own wine key and beer opener -- and depending on the bar, maybe your own nutmeg grater. These will be your best friends, even better than the friends who are totally shocked you just charged them for drinks.

Don’t tolerate rejection: “Keep asking for a job until they file a restraining order against you.”

Stick around at least a year: Bartending’s like any other job -- bolt at the first opportunity and you’re “flighty”. Again, the community is tight-knit, word spreads fast, and the last thing you want is a jilted employer telling everyone you’re a… blankety-blank?

A little light reading

Suggested lit: Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book; Dave Broom’s The World Atlas of Whiskey; David Embury’s Fine Art of Mixing Drinks; Dave Wondrich’s Imbibe!; Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology; Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail; Ben Reed’s The Art of the Cocktail; Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book; Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table; Tony Abou-Ganim’s The Modern Mixologist; anything by F. Paul Pacult or Doug Frost; Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life; and when you’re ready to get holistic, Gordon M. Shepherd’s Neurogastronomy and The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

Suggested cinema: No: Cocktail. Yes: Hey Bartender; On the Bowery; Casablanca; the Steve and Miranda relationship in Sex and the City; Big Trouble in Little China.


How You Can Grow Your Brand Through The Bartender Or Sommelier

Bartenders today have a remarkable influence on what people are drinking and therefore what is stocked behind the bar. They can be called mixologists, artists, makers or cocktologists.

Today’s consumers have a want for uniqueness, for artisanal cocktail offerings, bespoke created with carefully curated, high-quality ingredients and a menu that offers this can put a restaurant on the map. The influencers spearheading this movement of the maker culture are a cadre of well-versed, original and in-demand bartenders and their cocktail card is poised to satiate their patrons’ craving for distinctive and delectable drinks.

How Do You Make Sure That Your Spirits Are Always Near The Bartender's Grasp?

Know your products. Be the Brand.

The market of spirits is a competitive one, and it is important to develop a branding strategy that distinguishes your product from others. With craft cocktails in demand, new producers get an opportunity to create a marketing model that is adaptable to the buyers’ needs and well-established suppliers get the chance to rejuvenate their branding strategy.

Whether you or your reps are doing the pitching, ensure that each individual is intimately familiar with the products that they are putting on offer.  You can increase your chances of success by providing training programs on how your brand image and the tasting profiles of your brand can create different styles of potential cocktail programs.

By using syrups, bitters, herbs and locally sourced foods, make your spirits stand out with irreplaceable and distinctive flavor in various cocktails.  Consider engaging a professional mixologist who has experience in developing successful and creative cocktail programs. They can identify how to present your brand in the best light, emphasize it’s unique flavor and provide invaluable insights on how to successfully apply your products in the context of the real world.

While the bartender is already an expert with mixing your brands of whiskey, gin, tequila or rum, a sales rep team who is well-versed with the art of mixing drinks will establish an understanding, mutual respect and a long-term affiliation with the bartending team.

Knowing your products is just the first part, the real deal is being passionate about the products you are offering. It is this passion that will ignite the bartender or bar owner’s interest and show through when they offer your products to their customers. This role must be fulfilled by the sales rep, brand ambassador or the owners of the brand themselves.

Know the account

The pitch made to a prospective on-premise account has to be relevant to be successful. To be able to do this, one has to do the groundwork before setting up a meeting. Research the account in detail – know their food and cocktail menus, the history of the hotel, club, restaurant or bar, who the owners are, the history, ambiance and regular patrons.

Take this into account and match up sales reps to accounts according to their personality. The account will be able to identify better with the sales reps and see them as an extension of the values and interests that they work so hard to represent through their premises. Since every establishment has its unique characteristics, the sales reps must approach it keeping these factors in mind.

As it is not possible for the restaurant or bar owner to buy all your products at once, it is not a good idea to pitch them everything in your toolbox. Examine their menu, find a gap and see where you can fulfill a need. Are you able to create a similar tasting cocktail with a lower priced product? Do you have a new product that competitors are serving? Is a new drink recipe or brand a hit at club venues? In what way can you add value to their cocktail menu? This shows the buyer that you have taken the time to understand their requirements and are offering them something that will enhance their cocktail offerings.

All spirits do not belong in all premises, no matter how good the quality or packaging of a spirits brand is. Therefore, offering the perfect mix of products to a restaurant or bar is a great start, one that you can build on as you develop a long-standing relationship with the account.

Make the bartender your best friend

The head bartender or sommelier at the account definitely plays a strong role in designing the cocktail menu and set up a meeting with them will not go unnoticed. They may not be the primary buyer, but meeting and discussing the menu and your products with them shows that you have a difference for the role they play in the industry and at the account that they work at. In the end, it is this vital connection that you have made with the bartender that will move those cases. Bartenders also have an influence over other bartenders and their opinions of your products, so making sure that you are in their good books will go a long way for you.

Bartenders do spend a lot of time with people and know what they want. They have a pulse on market trends. So, pick their brains and ask for their opinions. After a sale has been made, ask the bartender how they use your product. How is it served best, have they created cocktail recipes with your product, is it served as shots? How do their customers like to drink your product? This knowledge will help you create an identity around your brand that you can use with your accounts.

The importance of great quality and applicability of your spirits cannot be overstated, and forging a long-standing working relationship with your clients is equally significant.

Sample your product in a pleasant and sociable setting with the buyer and mixologist.

Without forcing your opinion on them or even trying to get a conclusive answer from them instantaneously, let buyers arrive at a conclusion about the characteristics of the product by themselves as you deliver your pitch. Gain an understanding of the cocktails they are already creating before proffering your cocktail recipe suggestions, allowing the conversation to flow naturally. Pushing for a sale will not leave you with a satisfied customer, so it is important to understand their existing menu and offer products that will augment their cocktail offering.  Preparing well beforehand will ensure that the products that the sales rep is offering during the pitch will hit the right notes with the buyer.

Be Generous

Don’t treat the sale as a one-time visit, visit the account regularly as you do your rounds. The sales team should call on the account not only when sales are down, but also as regulars so they are familiar with the entire staff. It is the sense of personal relationship built with bartenders and staff that goes a long way in ensuring that your brand is part of their vision.

Go the extra mile. This may translate into actions like small deliveries, fulfilling a request for deliveries on short notice or out of hours.

Customer service is key. If your customer has a request, try to accommodate it. Most customers play within the boundaries and make special requests only if a situation asks for it.

Be generous with not just your product, but your time, your knowledge and your passion. Samples are always appreciated and used well by bartenders, so share these free when you are privy to them. Apart from this, spare your time unreservedly with team members working on the account.   

Although wait staff members and bartenders move on from the current restaurant or bar that they work at, if they come to believe in and appreciate your products, they will be sure to recommend them for their next job.

By building genuine personal relationships, you will have a group of unofficial ambassadors that will promote your products and you can leverage these, both in the trade and with consumers.


10 Easy Summer Cocktails – Best Refreshing Cocktails to beat the heat

What better way to beat the heat than with refreshing summer cocktails?

Whether you are going to throw a party, want to have a girls’ night in or just sit on the back yard having a little time for yourself or your family, these fresh batch of easy summer cocktail recipes will delight you.

These summertime cocktails are not only easy to make and tasty but filled with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

must have summer cocktails with refreshing ingredients

Here are some of my favorite easy summer drinks that check all our boxes: easy, refreshing, light, and totally delicious.

Summer is for cocktails. Just imagine yourself laying poolside this summer with a whole pitcher to yourself.

how to make summer cocktails to beat the heat

10 Easy Summer Cocktails you’ll love

Strawberry Mojito

strawberry mojito cocktail on a glass with mint and lime

This super easy strawberry mojito recipe is made with strawberries, mint, lime, and rum.

It’s one of my favorite classic summer cocktails, and it’s perfect for a girls’ night in. Besides, being made with fresh strawberries adds sweetness, vitamins, and antioxidants.

On this recipe, you will learn how to make a strawberry mojito quick and easy, and how to muddle a Mojito. This makes THE BEST party drink!

Get the recipe here (via Cooks with Cocktails).

Pineapple Coconut Moscow Mule

Pineapple Coconut Summer Moscow Mule in a cup with lime

The best thing about this Moscow Mule cocktail is how refreshing it is, thanks to its combination of pineapple chunks and coriander, which makes it the best summer drink.

I’ve had other Moscow Mules before, but never with this combination of fresh ingredients. Definitely, it’s one of the best Moscow Mule recipe I’ve ever tried!

Get the recipe here (via Dude That Cookz).

Watermelon Margarita

Easy Watermelon Margarita in a glass with salt and lime

This watermelon summer drink is so refreshing you’ll have it all day in summer. Besides, you can make it a frozen watermelon margarita blending all the ingredients with ice.

Margarita is a classic Mexican cocktail but if you add watermelon, it gets better! Like drinking a slice of watermelon (plus tequila + lime juice).

Get the recipe here (via Life’s Ambrosia).

Limoncello Spritz

limoncello spritz cocktail on a glass with mint and lemon

You’ll love this delicious Italian cocktail made with limoncello, Prosecco and soda that will transport you to the Amalfi Coast. Besides, this Limoncello Spritz recipe adds mint and lemon, which gives it a more refreshing and summery touch.

This Limoncello cocktail is a perfect holiday party drink!

Get the recipe here (via Sip and Feast).

Blackberry Pineapple Rum Cocktail

blackberry pineapple rum cocktail in a glass with lime and mint

If you don’t like very sweet cocktails, you’ll love this blackberry pineapple rum drink. This rum cocktail recipe only requires five simple ingredients – dark rum, Grand Marnier, blackberry syrup, fresh lime juice and pineapple juice.

Pro tip: If you keep it in an air-tight container you can keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Get the recipe here (via The Little Epicurean).

Frozen Peach Bellini Cocktail

Frozen Peach Bellini Cocktail for two on a plate

This frozen peach Bellini recipe is so light and easy to make, it’s the perfect drink for hot summer days.

All you need is peach puree from frozen peaches, ice, sugar and Prosecco, Champagne or other sparkling wine.

Get the recipe here (via EatWell101).

Salty Dog Cocktail

Salty Dog cocktail recipe for two in a glass with salt and lime

If you are looking for staycation ideas, this Salty Dog cocktail is the perfect drink to enjoy at home, since it will transport you to the beach without leaving your back yard.

Salty Dog ingredients are super simple! All you need is grapefruit juice, vodka, lemon-lime soda and salt. One of the most refreshing cocktails you can make!

Get the recipe here (via Mom 4 Real).

Paloma Cocktail

paloma cocktail recipe for two in a glass with salt, lime and grapefruit

This Paloma drink is a Mexican favorite. Cocktail of tequila and grapefruit soda

With a blend of grapefruit juice, silver tequila, lime juice, soda, simple syrup and salt, this Paloma is the ultimate brunch cocktail.

Get the recipe here (via Tidy Mom).

Peach Rosé Sangria

Peach Rosé Sangria in a glass with raspberries

This sangria recipe with peaches tastes so good, it basically is dessert.

This summer sangria rose with peach is made with rosé wine, brandy, peach juice, peaches, raspberries and sparkling water.

Pro tip: It’s best to refrigerate the sangria for at least an hour so that the alcohol takes the flavor and nutrients from the fruit.

Get the recipe here (via Recipe Runner).

French 75 Cocktail

French 75 Cocktail in a champagne glass with lemon

This gin and champagne cocktail will make you feel like you’re actually on vacay in France.

The French 75 cocktail recipe is super easy, with Brut champagne, dry gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice. The perfect summer cocktail!

Get the recipe here (via Amanda’s Cookin’).

I hope these easy summer cocktails make you insanely happy! Cheers!

If you are craving it, then save it! 


11 Bartending Basics Everyone Should Know

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Believe it or not, bartenders do not learn their craft through osmosis. They do not put their hand on a cocktail book, close their eyes and instantly acquire all the necessary information to mix up a perfect cocktail or work a shift behind the stick. It takes practice and dedication to master making drinks. If you have any interest in making drinks at home or anywhere else, it is crucial to understand the basic skills (especially if you want to learn more advanced techniques). From using a jigger to learning the different ways to shake (or mix) your cocktail, here are the 11 bartending basics everyone should know how to do.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Measuring Cocktail Ingredients with a Jigger

If you’re going make a good cocktail—no matter how simple or complicated—you need to know how to measure the ingredients going into it. And jiggers, the tiny cups divided into the most common cocktail measurements, are your best tool to pull that off. So learn how to use a jigger to ensure that your drinks are consistent and to the specifications detailed in the recipe.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Shake

Shaking is one of the two basic ways to mix a cocktail so that all of the ingredients are fully incorporated together. It is crucial to know how to shake and when to shake your drink. Generally, cocktails made with fresh citrus, eggs or fruit, like the Pisco Sour, need to be shaken to be emulsified. How you hold your shaker, how you move it, and the ice that you use inside all determine the outcome of your cocktail.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Stir

The second primary way of mixing a drink, stirring, is the most difficult basic bartending technique to master and is used to mix cocktails made entirely of spirits like the Manhattan or a classic Martini. Stirring a drink properly takes lots of practice and patience. When learning this skill, it’s not only important to know how to hold the spoon in your hand, but also how to move it, and how your movements will affect the cocktail that you are trying to make.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Strain Using A Hawthorne Strainer

The way you mix your cocktail determines how you strain it. For shaken cocktails like the Daiquiri or Margarita—you’re going to need to learn how to use a Hawthorne strainer to strain the drink properly. A Hawthorne strainer, identified by the curlique of coils on its underside, is best for straining out bits of citrus, herb debris or chunks of fruit.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Strain Using A Julep Strainer

Straining a cocktail with a Julep strainer is essential to mixing stirred drinks like a Negroni, a Martini or a Manhattan. Essentially a short-handled metal spoon with holes in it, a Julep strainer is used for cocktails that only consist of straight booze and ice. The strainer only needs to prevent ice used to stir the drink (and any shards that broke off) from getting into the finished cocktail. Word of warning: It definitely will take some detextarity and patience getting used to holding the strainer the way that you’re supposed to.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Double-Strain

This straining technique is used for cocktails that have a bunch of leftover debris in them—like the Mojito, which is bogged down with mint scraps after shaking. It is a crucial skill to have in your arsenal when making any cocktail that requires muddling.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Muddle Fruit

When using fresh fruit in cocktails, it is often best to muddle it so that the juices (and oils) are fully incorporated into the drink. Muddling fresh fruit requires less nuance than muddling herbs, but is an essential skill to master nonetheless.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Muddle Herbs

Herbs can make a drab cocktail sing with flavor. Drinks like the Mint Julep and the Whiskey Smash rely heavily on fresh herbs for their bracing minty-fresh punch. Unlike fruit, herbs can bruise when over muddled. It is essential when making classic cocktails with herbs to understand how they react to being muddled, and how best to harness their inherent flavors and oils.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Use A Swizzle Stick

If you’re new to making cocktails you may actually not know what a swizzle stick is for—or what it even looks like. The tool is a long wooden stick with four to five notches at the base that look like the knotty roots of a tree (which are used to mix the cocktail). Essential to making the class of cocktails known as Cobblers, the swizzle stick is an archaic tool that is an art to master—and equally as fun to use.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Rim A Glass

The salt on your Margarita doesn’t naturally want to stick to the lip of your glass— you have to adhere it to the glass. Learning how—and when—to rim a glass will help you achieve a perfect rim on your next Margarita or Sidecar.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

How To Roll A Cocktail

Contrary to popular belief, shaking your Bloody Mary (or even mixing it straight in the glass) is not the best way to thoroughly mix the drink. The ideal way is with this technique. Rolling a cocktail—pouring it back and forth between two shaker tins—allows you to mix a cocktail and fully incorporate the ingredients in the drink without giving it a foamy, aerated head like shaking does. This is a great technique to know if you have a drink with juice, fruit or herbs, that can’t be stirred or shaken, and needs to be thoroughly mixed.