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Top Bartending Rules to Never Forget

Top Bartending Rules to Never Forget

You have a lot of choices when it comes to your job or life-long career. One of the most exciting and entertaining careers you can choose to pursue is bartending!

“A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.”

Albert Einstein

There are countless career opportunities out there for well-trained bartenders once they complete bartending school. Once you master the technical, or hard, skills, there are certain unspoken rules that you won’t want to forget. Especially if you want to spend more than six months making alcoholic beverages.

Our team at Local Bartending School has made it our mission to get you ready for life as bartenders or mixologists.

So, mini-mixologists memorize these top 6 bartending rules and never forget them. Let’s get started!

Bartending Rule 1: Always Keep Your Bartop Happy

The first thing you need to consider when bartending for the first time is: keeping the customer happy is very important.

To start, make sure that you have all of the mixology tools that you’ll need for the day clean and ready. Make sure people at least get what they came for in a timely manner and that you’re serving alcohol in a clean glass.

Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/TtLXCY59gqc

Then, you can start to tailor your service for their visit. People go to the bar for all sorts of things, even to grieve. Are they celebrating? Say congrats and offer a champagne toast! Is it a romantic date? It’s probably best to make yourself available but not talk too much.

I like to think of tailoring your service as acting like a chameleon. You want to blend in with your guest’s energy and vibration; it makes them feel comfortable with you! Always follow your establishment’s steps of service and have your own personality but blend in with your bartop.

When your customers are content, cozy, and at ease, the more money you ultimately make off of tips! The more money you make in gratuity, the more you’ll love to bartend!

Main Takeaway: Have the right tools ready to make alcoholic beverages and adjust your style of service to each guest.

Bartending Rule 2: Keep it Professional (Or Say Bye to your Bartending License!)

You need to remember that you are at a job and not a party, so be sure to keep it professional and match your bar’s culture.

Most importantly, don’t give away free cocktails just to be cool or make extra money. The bar owner (aka your boss!) is looking to turn a profit and does not want all of their money going down your bartop’s throat. Plus, you’ll probably kiss your bartending license goodbye.

You can serve alcohol and have fun with your regulars–we’re not saying to be stiff. Just keep it professional. And don’t drink on the job and break the law (yes, there are alcohol laws). You’ll be fired faster before you make any of that tip money you’ve been hearing about.

Bartending Rule 3: Remember Mixologists are Always On Stage

You are the center of attention when you’re behind the bar. A great way to remember this is to pretend you’re on stage!

Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/muQiwKah-hg

Watch your body movements (don’t touch your hair or nose!), stay engaging, and remember to have fun!

The last thing that people want to see is a bartender with a bad attitude. Your bartop will see you as negative and lazy. And their tips will reflect that! Stay busy, upbeat, and available and you’ll make 20% (probably more if you use aesthetic garnishes on your alcoholic beverages!) with every check.

Bartender Tip: You might also talk to more experienced bartenders to see what kind of rules they live by. You’d be surprised at all the things we pick up along at our countless bartending jobs.

Follow these 3 first rules and you’ll be able to have a long and successful career in the bartending industry. You’ll make crazy, good money wherever you work.

Bartending Rule 4: Stay Patient and Available

This goes for your bartop, coworkers, and even yourself. Be patient with yourself because you won’t become this amazing mixologist overnight–all good things take time. Like a good whiskey in a Whisky Sour.

Plus, you’ll want to be available not only for your bartop but for your entire team! When you’re just starting out behind the bar, you’ve got to prove yourself. The more you’re available to fill in during a call-off, to burn the ice well in the middle of the rush, or run food for the chef the better!

Your supervisors and veteran bartenders will start to trust you with more and more, and soon you’ll be handing that whole bartop solo.

Bartending Rule 5: Read Your Guest

In the hospitality industry, you might hear the phrase, “read your guest’. This means, to pay attention to facial cues, body language, tone of voice, and the physical environment around them.

Is the table dirty with tons of napkins and your guest is staring at you? They probably want you to come clean up, or pre-bus if your bar serves food.

Are they hardly touching the drink you just made them? They might like it, but don’t have the heart to tell you. Just ask!

You’ll get to know how people act and be able to predict what it is they need next. This is exactly how veteran bartenders and mixologists hone their service and make a ton of money from tips.

Bartending Rule 6: Work as a Team

Both standalone and restaurant bars have a lot of moving parts that all piece together to provide one magnificent service: food and drinks! From the host to the barback, all the way up to the bar owner, every single person is a necessary component.

You’re one part of that bigger picture.

And you’ll need to remember that. Always keep it in the back of your head that you’re not working as an individual, but as one cohesive team. Ditch any old notions of “that’s not my job” or “they’re not my guest”. (That’s super annoying actually, and you’ll definitely have a shorter bartending career than your peers).

Moral of the story, if you have an individualistic attitude behind the bar, you’ll quickly realize that this industry is not for you.

Jot These Down, and Don’t Ever Forget Them!

You now have six whole rules that I wish someone would have told me when I first started my bartender journey.

Honestly, I’ve kept these secrets close to my heart for so long! (Twelve years’ worth of hospitality industry knowledge if we’re counting.)

But it’s finally time I share everything with you people! Training programs don’t always teach things like reading the guest, staying available and professional, and acting as if you were a performer on stage.

I’m confident that if you keep these handy rules in mind, you’ll live long and prosperous in the world of bartending and hospitality industry.

Need a Bartending License to Step up Your Mixology Career? Local Bartending School Can Help!

Sometimes you need a hands-on approach. We totally get that. We teach classic cocktails, cocktail recipes, and other sought-after communication skills.

So, are you in the United States or Canada and want to become a bartender? Enroll at Local Bartending School for 1-on-1 alcohol training and other bartending courses!

From New York to California, we have an instructor ready to get you your bartender certification and so much more!

How to Make a Whisky Sour

How to Make a Whisky Sour

The sour is one of the fundamental cocktail families every bartender should master.

In this article, we will review the history of the sour, variations on the sour, and how to make the best. We will also touch upon how to take this classic formulation and make it your own with flavor and spirits twists. 
How the Whisky Sour Started

When humans began to sow their own crops

, they began to notice an abundance of leftovers.  A large part of this unused crop was fruit and grain.   Both of which were left to the elements. 

The fruit and grain began to transform with time due to exposure to wild yeast strains.  These strains eat the sugar of fruit and grains.  Eventually, this yeast turns it into alcohol. This happy accident was humanity’s introduction to the science of fermentation.

Wine and beer became a staple, and until the advent of distillation, they reigned supreme.


Alcohol For Safety (Anti-Bacterial)

Distillation creates long-lasting alcoholic beverages.  These distilled beverages are safe from contamination from bacteria.  Bacteria was a threat in these days and

 caused dysentery and typhoid.

Adding distilled spirit to water was the first form of water purification. Alcohol was also just popular: every civilization imbibed some form of fermented or distilled grain and fruit due to the pleasant psychoactive effects.

Alcohol for Curing Disease

Cocktails that follow the formula spirit + citrus + sugar have one thing in common: they started as a curative concoction.  They were believed to cure disease.

Most commonly, whiskey (or gin or rum) was carried in large barrels on ships making long ocean

voyages. Every sailor was allotted a daily ration of beer or spirit, in addition to water and food. 

In the mid 17th century, “grog” was invented.  It is watered down rum.  The name comes from British Navy (nicknamed after Admiral “Old Grogram”). Grog made stale, bad-tasting water more palatable and reduced crew intoxication.

It was also common to add half a lemon or lime into the “grog” spirit to ward off scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency) and a spoon of sugar to improve flavor. 

“Grog” to Sour

The sour cocktail grew in popularity throughout the mid- to late-19th century, appearing in the seminal bartending guide of it’s era –

Jerry Thomas’s The Bar-Tender’s Guideand the whiskey varietal is mentioned as an established cocktail choice in an 1870 Wisconsin newspaper. From there, it grew like wildfire to become one of the most common cocktail types on any menu, serving as the basis for perennial favorites such as the Daiquiri and the Margarita.  

So how do you even make a sour?

You must start with the basic foundation of spirit + sugar + citrus; from there, the varieties and options are vast.

Let’s start with the most common version, which is the classic Whiskey Sour.

The Whisky Sour

Let’s start with your whiskey: you should choose a whiskey (usually bourbon or rye) with a proof of 90-100 (45-50% alcohol by volume) to ensure it still retains a good amount of that quintessential whiskey “burn.” 

The Whiskey Sour should be shaken since it contains citrus. 

You want to achieve a good dose of dilution from more vigorous interaction with ice.

The Citrus Element

Next, let’s choose our citrus. Lemon is classic but you can achieve new flavor combinations with another citrus, whether more common like grapefruit or more exotic, like yuzu.

The Sweet Element

Then you will want to choose your sweetening agent; I prefer rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water ratio) to provide a nice texture and viscosity. The final step is to ensure you have balance amongst the elements. 

Here is my go-to recipe: 

Classic Whiskey Sour

2 oz whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
¾ oz rich simple syrup
Instructions: combine ingredients in shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain into coupe or stemmed glass. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Now that you have mastered the basic version, let’s examine two of the most popular variations: the Boston Sour and the New York Sour. 

The Boston Sour

The Boston Sour is marked by the addition of egg white to the Classic formula to add body, texture, and a more delicate flavor. You can substitute egg white for aquafaba (water from a chickpea can), which can provide options for vegans or just those who are squeamish about the potential of imbibing a raw egg. Achieving a fluffy foam on the drink is essential to master. I prefer to deploy a reverse dry shake (shaking with ice, straining the ice, then shaking again with no ice) but a traditional dry shake can also work (shake with no ice, then shake with ice). To achieve a smoother foam, double strain the cocktail through a fine-mesh strainer. 

The traditional garnish for a Boston Sour is Angostura bitters, dotted onto the eggwhite foam. Decant your Angostura into a bitters bottle with a dasher top or into an eyedropper for greater precision. Dot the egg white (or aquafaba) foam with

one or two parallel lines of three dots, then, using the dropper or a cocktail pick, draw a line down the center of the dots to achieve tiny hearts. This adds an extra bit of artistry, whimsy, and flavor to the cocktail. Once you have mastered the basic garnish, you can experiment with other shapes and figures, or even cut out your own logo or design from a plastic deli lid and use an atomizer filled with Angostura to spray the stencil. 

Boston Sour

2 oz whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
¾ oz rich simple syrup
1 egg white (or 1 oz egg whites or aquafaba)
Instructions: combine ingredients in a shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain out ice, shake vigorously again. Double strain into coupe or stemmed glass. Garnish with Angostura dotted on top of the foam.

The New York Sour

The New York Sour is a bit of an oddball, but a cocktail that has been popping up on cocktail menus more frequently. This breed of sour is widely accepted to date back to the late 19th century with a birthplace that does not logically follow the name: Chicago. 

This drink also goes under the name of the “Continental Sour” and it may be that the name was given due to New York having a reputation for high society, luxury hotels, and bustling commerce (though it also played host to the other end of that spectrum with slums, tenements, and poor working conditions). Regardless of the origin, the New York Sour is considered one of the main types of whiskey-based sour cocktails every bartender should know how to craft. 


New York Sour

2 oz whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
¾ oz rich simple syrup
½ oz red wine (suggest a more fruit-forward varietal such as Malbec or Zinfandel)
Instructions: combine ingredients except for wine in a shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain over ice in a short glass. Float wine across the top by pouring gently on top of the drink.

Making Your Own Signature Sour

Nothing elevates a bartender’s acumen like crafting your own cocktails. Experimenting with flavors, proportions, and presentation encourages flexing the basics and pushing creativity to craft new, delightful quaffs. Once you master the three basic types of sours, begin to add in different spirits, sweeteners, citrus varieties, and flavors. 

My personal favorite creation is the Ginger Sour, which I craft with whiskey or gin, deploying either a ginger-infused syrup or muddling fresh ginger. The addition of the piquant ginger adds an edge to the otherwise soft-palated drink, while also enhancing its refreshing nature. Ginger is also a common ingredient that is easy to find and has wide appeal. So, what will your signature sour be? 

Erin’s Ginger Whiskey Sour
2 oz whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
¾ oz rich simple syrup
1 inch fresh ginger
1 egg white (or 1 oz egg whites or aquafaba)
Instructions: combine ingredients except for egg white in a shaker. Peel and dice one inch of fresh ginger, muddle. Add egg or aquafaba. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain out ice, shake vigorously again. Double strain into coupe or stemmed glass. Garnish with a slice of candied ginger.

How Much Does Bartending School Cost?

How Much Does Bartending School Cost?

Bartending school tuition is an investment that every bartender needs to make at some point.

Many students leave bar school jobless with empty pockets.

New bartenders should have realistic expectations upon entering bartending school and avoid pouring thousands of dollars into bartending school. A bartending diploma issues no guarantees.

Bar owners favor experience to save their training costs. Furthermore, these owners are motivated to hire bartenders with certifications for lower insurance premiums.

Barman giving whiskey glass with booze – closeup.

Some would argue that a majority of successful bartenders never planned to become bartenders. Instead, they started as waiters, waitresses, and busboys.  They worked their way up.

 Bartending school catapults people to their career faster than “climbing up the ladder.”

I think the best way to approach the bartending school question involves your personal goals in becoming a bartender.

If you want to learn how to become a bartender as a career and not just a job, it’s important to advance your way up to it.   To work through all of the roles in a bar will help you better understand the entirety of bar operation.

If, however, you are more interested in jumping into a bartending job, bartending school is a good way to get a jump-start on the basics that every bartender must know.

What Will You’ll Learn in School?

Despite whether you learn online or in-person, the core content remains similar. Online courses are easier to fit into your schedule, however, they only deliver visual knowledge, not hands-on experience. Flashy videos can be informative and helpful learning basic knowledge.

Bartending is a hands-on process. Most graduates of an online course will not feel ready on for a bartending job. It is important to participate in an in-person lesson or class.

Courses will involve managing a bar, drink recipes, organization, running a POS (point of sale) machine, and learning alcohol safety. Schools typically run two to seven weeks. Graduates of shorter schools tend to feel comfortable with only basic knowledge.

Bartending schools come in all shapes and sizes, and what and how much you learn depends on which one you choose.

Longer courses often involve added training in table service, more advanced drinks, flair bartending tricks, and a variety of additional information. Oftentimes the more extensive courses will involve having the students actually go into a bar either to shadow a real bartender or do a bit of real bartending themselves.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost to enroll in bartending school varies greatly.

Basic online video courses can run anywhere from $35 to $200, but as I mentioned before, be wary of these sorts of courses, and especially the cheapest ones. Don’t pay for some course that promises training only to have you watch basic videos and read recipes. You can learn all of that using YouTube and a cheap recipe book.

ABC Bartending School of Fort Lauderdale, FL
30 Hours
Program Price – $345
Registration Fee (Non-refundable) – $100
Book Fee (Non-refundable) – $50
Total Program Cost – $495

Ace Bartending of Las Vegas, NV
2 Weeks, 30 Hours
Total Program Cost (Internet Special) – $299

San Diego Bartending School, San Diego, CA
16 Hour Course
Total cost for two: $498

*The accuracy of the above pricing is not guaranteed and may be incorrect. Please contact schools for most accurate pricing.

In-class courses vary in price based on the length and depth of instruction. It is fairly common to see these programs run in the $200 to $400 range, but sometimes they can be quite expensive. One popular example is the New York Bartending School, which costs nearly $600 for a comprehensive 40 hour class.

Conclusion: Is it Worth It?

If you don’t have a very good knowledge of liquors, drinks, and bar tools, but you still want to get into bartending, it might be exactly what you’re looking for.

If, on the other hand, you are one of those people who already knows a lot of drinks, school might not provide you with all that much new knowledge.

As for the expense, if you put down the money on bartending school, complete it, then cost won’t matter.  You won’t be complaining about the money spent on training when you successfully land a job.

When you get off work with a pocket full of cash, those few hundred dollars you spent on classes will not seem like a problem.

Make a Piña Colada for the First Time: A Recipe and Then Some

Make a Piña Colada for the First Time: A Recipe and Then Some

Written by Carrie Jean Lipe

As a budding bartender, all you need are three simple things when you attempt to make a new drink on the fly (cough, piña colada, cough). The only items to equip yourself are the ingredients, a killer recipe, and a quick talking point to make it seem like you’ve been making this drink for years.

Today, you’ll walk away with at least two of the necessary requirements: a killer recipe and an interesting story to share with your new regulars. Plus as a bonus, (because we want you to be amazing bartenders) we’ll answer a few common FAQs in the land of piña coladas. 

Let’s get you to make a piña colada for the first time.  

A little drink garnish goes a long way.

Make a Piña Colada with this Recipe

The original technique for making this creamy tiki drink doesn’t need a blender (more on the history later!). So if your bar doesn’t have one, this recipe is perfect for you. 

For those of you bartenders that are lucky enough to have a blender, feel free to blend all of the ingredients for a creamy, frothy, blended cocktail.

You’ll need:

2 ounces (oz) light rum
1.5 oz cream of coconut
1.5 oz pineapple juice
0.5 oz lime juice 
Glass: Hurricane
Garnish: pineapple leaf and freshly cut wedge


Combine rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cream of coconut to a shaker with ice.
Shake for about 30 seconds.
Service over fresh pebble ice and garnish. 

Save pineapple leaves for an exotic garnish.

Please Your Patrons with this Piña Colada Fact

A sure-fire way to trick your new regular into thinking this totally isn’t your first time making a piña colada is to tell them a fact only a super talented bartender would know. We’re always fans of a good ‘ole origin story.

Ramōn was a bartender at the beautiful Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This takes us to where everyone’s favorite cruise drink was conceived. Ramon grabbed some rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice off the shelf, threw them all together in his shaker, and created the beloved piña colada. 

We Answer Piña Colada Questions 

We would love to be able to come to you at home and show you how to mix all of these ingredients into a delicious piña colada drink–oh wait! We can! 

One of our PRO bartenders can come to show you how to make a piña colada. You’ll be up to speed in no time.

Until then, let’s answer some frequently asked questions. And, yes you can make a virgin piña colada.

What is the best piña colada mix?

You might be at the whim of your bar manager (tell them if you think it sucks, though!), but we at Local Bartending School like Finest Call and Mr. & Mrs. T’s

Does piña colada have alcohol?

Traditionally and unless you’re told otherwise, yes! However, this tasty hot weather treat can be enjoyed without alcohol (aka a virgin piña colada) for your bartop guests who are underage or don’t drink.

What alcohol goes with piña colada?

Rum pairs best with coconut and pineapple flavors. It’s standard to use a light or white rum but you can switch this up if your regular loves gold rum. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment (probably at home so you don’t run a tab up at your job or serve a terrible drink)! This is one of the best ways to learn. 

Suggest a fresh piña colada to drink on hot days.

You’re More than Ready to Make a Piña Colada for the First Time

Congratulations! If you’ve read all the way through, you have more information on piña coladas than at least a tenth of the bartenders behind the bar at this very moment. You have a killer, time-tried recipe that’s sure to be sucked up all summer long. You know a bit of the history AND have answers to the most common questions people are stuck wondering about. 

Looking to hone your craft beyond piña coladas? We’ve helped hundreds of students become successful bartenders through our 1-on-1 In-Home Course and effective Job Placement program. Get started by entering a few details here!

Don’t let your other bartender buddies make a terrible cocktail! Share this on your social media so they’re in the know.

How to Become a Bartender (with No Experience)

How to Become a Bartender (with No Experience)

Thinking about being behind the bar for the first time is equally exciting as it is terrifying. I remember being a host, staring at the bartenders. 
They were laughing, pouring beautiful drinks, and cracking jokes to the busy bar top. I knew I’d be there one day. But first, and as it goes, I had to walk before I could run

But what I really had to do was learn how to become a bartender with no experience. 

My goal for you today is to take the terrifying part out of becoming a bartender. I believe with a little education and a lot of practice, by the end this you’ll understand how to become a bartender–all with no experience. 

We’ll cover the hiring process, learn easy steps to becoming a bartender, and hear from a bar manager on what they look for when applicants don’t have the skills… yet. 

Let’s get you ready for life behind the bar, shall we? 

Understanding How to Become a Bartender: The Hiring Process

Before we venture off into uncharted territory, let’s make sure we understand what’s expected of us as baby bartenders. First, we’ll start with the hiring process. Without the ability to get hired, we lose all chances at achieving the ultimate goal of becoming a bartender.

Here’s what we’ll cover.

Legal Requirements Writing a ResumeLooking for a JobInterviewingProving Your SkillsLanding the Job

Legal Requirements–Age and Safe Service Certifications

Make sure you are old enough to be a bartender before heading off to apply for jobs. Each state and country varies, so do some research. 

Once you know you’re of age, look into getting certified in how to serve alcohol safely and legally. Every bartender has to go through this responsibility training (again this varies by where you live!), so it’s good practice to have this done already.

You’ll hear this safety license referred to as: responsible service of alcohol, alcohol awareness serving certification, or liquor serving license. 

Pro Tip: Some establishments will reimburse you for this training. But if you want to set yourself apart from other applicants, this is a fine way to do it. Managers will have one less thing to worry about when hiring you, making their job easy. 

Writing a Resume

If you think you don’t need a resume to become a bartender—think again. I understand it may be hard to put your skills into words, but having a strong resume will help you stand out amongst a crowd of fish. 

You have three options for creating a powerful resume.

Hire an expert off Upwork, or a similar platform.Use a free template.Write it yourself. 

If you choose to write it yourself or even use a free template, we’d recommend getting feedback from at least three people. Especially those with plenty of experience in the service industry. 

Looking for a Job

Once you have a resume that will smash your competition, are of a legal age, and can serve alcohol safely, you are ready for the big leagues.

Well, tryouts at least.

It’s time to look for a job! 

Start online through posted ads or head out on foot with a folder of your resumes printed out. I even like to get fancy, thick paper so the hiring managers know I take this job very seriously. 

More tips on how to impress the bar manager are coming up soon!



Since you have the bases covered, your shots at landing an interview are high! Kind of like mimosas at brunch—they’re bound to happen. 

And don’t be surprised if you get asked to interview on the spot. The F&B (food and beverage) industry is known for its high turnover, especially post-pandemic. Some restaurants really need help, and quickly!

Prepare beforehand by looking over the drink menu (food menu too, if there is one!). Be ready to answer a common question like, “why did you choose to apply here over other places?”. 

For scheduled interviews, show them you have your stuff together by arriving early, dressed nicely (appropriate to the dress wear required), smile, and write questions ahead of time. 

As a previous bar manager, I can tell you firsthand to not worry about being nervous. We are all human, and we all experience emotions. Just breathe slowly and try to stay focused on presenting your skills as calmly as possible.

Proving Your Skills

The practice shift. 

It’s a daunting thing.It happens. But not always!  

In fine dining or well-known bars and restaurants, it’s common practice for hiring managers to ask an individual to come in for a sneak peek at their skills. 

You’re going to be nervous and probably unpaid.

They’ll ask you to make drinks on the rocks versus neat. They’ll have you pour draught beers and take payments. Some of this you can practice at home. Some you can learn through being a server, host, or bar back first.

Remain confident. Be honest. Stay open. And if you don’t know what to wear, just ask the person you’ve been in contact with.

If you can remember one thing during your practice shift (aka stage), I’d tell you this. Remember to smile, stay busy, and at the very least engage with customers confidently but briefly. I’ll tell you why this is so important later.

Landing the Job

All the hurdles have been cleared. All that’s next is to stick the landing and wait for the job offer.

Don’t be caught off guard if you’re asked to come in for another practice shift or if you’re offered a bar back position instead of becoming a bartender straight away.

With no experience, being a bar back is an amazing way to learn the swing of things and make decent money while you’re at it. Think of it as a paid apprenticeship.

And if you work extra hard for the veteran bartenders, they’ll tip you better and give you more responsibilities. Do I smell a mentor?




9 Simple Steps on How to Become a Bartender (Yep, Even with No Experience)

Know the Job Play Your Bartending LifeHave Bartender Dreams and AspirationsSolidify Your ResumeBuild Relationships and RapportSeek Out a MentorNetwork and Job ResearchStay Open Minded to Working Your Way UpMaster Some Skills

1. Know the Job 

Know what you’ll be expected to do when you step foot behind the bar.

Watch videos and read about a typical bartending shift. You’ll want to research a few things like setting up the bar, getting ready for service (pre-service), what to do during service, and breaking down/closing the bar.

2. Plan Your Bartending Life

Ask yourself what type of establishment you’d really just freakin’ love to work in. Is it Chili’s or a club setting? I love hotel bars or food-heavy bars like gastropubs. You can even niche-down to wine, breweries, or craft cocktail bars.

Have a goal for how much you’d like to make. What time of day do you want to work? Where do you want to work? 

With bartending, the floor is open.

3. Have Bartender Dreams and Aspirations

Some bartenders are fine working at their local watering hole. We love that. Some of you want to become a professional mixologist and win competitions. We love that, too.

Have dreams and aspirations to work towards so you know exactly where you want to be. 



4. Solidify Your Resume

Once you gain more and more experience in the service industry, be sure to update your resume regularly so you’re ready to transition to bigger and better things when it happens for you.

5. Build Relationships and Rapport

In the lay of bartending land, relationships and rapport is key. Not only with your clientele, but with other bartenders. 

If you have no experience, having the right relationship can really help you get your foot in the door.

6. Seek Out a Mentor

If you’re set on becoming a bartender fast, having a mentor can be a sure-fire way to do it. A mentor can guide you, 1-on-1, on making basic drinks, pouring techniques, and much more. 

Plus, they probably already have tools to learn on and a network of people to lean on. They also have more than likely heard of who needs help in local bars. 

7. Network and Job Research

Did someone say networking? Oh, right. That was me. 

Networking is fun when you’re learning to become a bartender because it often includes, well, going to a bar! When you’re there, take a look at how they’re holding their bar tools. What bar tools are they using? 

Tell them you’re learning to be a bartender. If they’re not busy, they might even show you a drink or their go-to technique!

You can also do some networking online via LinkedIn and/or Facebook groups.

8. Stay Open Minded: Working Your Way Up

Bartenders have been doing their craft for a while. It can be hard for those with no experience to walk onto a bartending team. 

That being said, stay open-minded to working your way up.

You might start off as a server, cocktail person, or bar back. It’s honestly a great way to learn (that’s how I started!) and a fantastic opportunity to show your new team exactly what you’re capable of. 

9. Master 3 Soft and 3 Hard Skills

Have you heard of soft and hard skills? Soft skills are difficult to measure because they’re not very tangible. But hard skills are easy to measure and prove. Here are a few of both, so you can practice mastering both soft and hard skills before you set out on your journey of becoming a bartender.

Soft Skills

Hard Skills


Food Knowledge


Knowledge of Basic Math

Work Ethic

Degree, Awards, or Certifications

Advice from a Bar and Hiring Manager: What Skills Matter When You Have No Experience

I’ve worked in restaurants and bars since 2008. After getting my degree in hospitality and food management, I managed bars throughout the country at a large hotel chain and even at a few standalone bars/restaurants. 

After some research, on my own accord and on behalf of all of you lovely humans, we’ve narrowed down the skills that actually matter when you’re learning how to become a bartender with no experience. 

Drumroll, please!


The top skills that bar managers look for are work ethic, attitude, and a willingness to learn or adapt. Some have adopted the hiring practice to look for people with the right attitude, instead of skill. We can teach skills. The right attitude can’t be taught! 

But if you do need help with the hard skills, check out our online course

Now you know how to become a bartender, even with no experience!

You’ve gotten to know the hiring process, learned easy steps on how to become an actual bartender, and heard from bar managers with years of experience in the industry. You’re closer to being behind the bar than you think.

If you want to become a bartender but are still stuck at home, you might like this 1-on-1 in-home bartending course from us here at Local Bartending School.

10 Tiki Cocktails for Summer – Beyond the Mai Tai

10 Tiki Cocktails for Summer – Beyond the Mai Tai

Tiki cocktails had a glorious heyday in the 1940’s and 50’s, but fell out of fashion into a campy, joke-version of themselves after that. But the cocktail renaissance of the last fifteen years or so is rescuing tiki-style drinks

and coming back to their original roots: lots of flavors layered together in a balanced and complex way, and fresh, creative ingredients. Here are recipes for ten classic tiki cocktails, mostly from the 1940’s Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber days, revitalized and updated for the modern cocktail palate.

The Jungle Bird

Cooking at NY Times

Recipe: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016228-jungle-bird

Jungle Birds deserve at least the reputation of Mai Tais, and are starting to get it. Simple but layered, this version uses bold blackstrap rum for extra oomph.

Key Elements:

Blackstrap Rum

The Bermuda Rum Swizzle


Recipe: http://www.liquor.com/recipes/bermuda-rum-swizzle/#gs.904t4rI

Ultimately, tiki is about rum, and nothing brings it out like the Bermuda Rum Swizzle. This version blends two rums to highlight it.

Key Elements:

Pineapple juice
Apple juice

The Ancient Mariner

Serious Eats

Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/ancient-mariner-navy-grog-tiki-rum-cocktail-recipe.html

The Ancient Mariner includes a spicy and unexpected allspice dram to blend and counterpoint all that refreshing fruit flavor.

Key Elements:

Allspice dram
Lime juice
Grapefruit juice


The Scorpion

Kitchen Riffs

Recipe: http://www.kitchenriffs.com/2013/08/the-scorpion-cocktail.html

The Scorpion, which combines rum and brandy with orange juice and slightly-bitter orgeat, works just as well as an individual cocktail or served in bowls for a crowd.

Key Elements:

Fresh-squeezed orange juice
Orgeat syrup

The Missionary’s Downfall


Recipe: http://www.killingtime.com/Pegu/2012/02/20/mixology-monday-tiki-the-missionarys-downfall/

Everyone who’s had a mojito knows that citrus and mint are a winning combination. This Missionary’s Downfall recipe throws in some apricot brandy and honey for extra warmth and smoothness.

Key Elements:

Apricot brandy
Mint leaves

The Zombie

Beachbum Berry


Zombies suffered a lot under the tiki-as-camp period, and tended to involve whatever was behind the bar. Beachbum Berry has reconstructed the original version for a more sophisticated (but still very strong!) drink.

Key Elements:

Lemon Hart Demerara rum

The Quetzal

Sage Atelier


A little less well-known than the other cocktails listed here, Quetzals take a simple citrus-and-rum base and add maple syrup for a unique blend of flavors.

Key Elements:

Cinnamon syrup
Grapefruit juice


The Painkiller


Recipe: http://www.shutterbean.com/2014/the-painkiller-cocktail/

The addition of coconut cream in the Painkiller makes for the smoothest possible drinking—maybe too smooth…

Key Elements:

Dark rum
Pineapple juice
Orange Juice

The Fog Cutter


Recipe: https://cold-glass.com/2014/07/26/lemonade-with-an-attitude-the-fog-cutter/Fog Cutter

Don’t fear the multiple liquors. The Fog Cutter combines rum, gin, and brandy into a surprisingly (and dangerously) smooth and subtle cocktail.

Key Elements:

Orgeat syrup
Lemon juice
Orange juice


The Test Pilot

Serious Eats

Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/test-pilot-tiki-drink-recipe.html

The Test Pilot doesn’t go for too much citrus or flashiness, instead going for a very much non-tacky blend of Angostura bitters and Pernod for a balanced and complex drink.

Key Elements:

Angostura bitters
Jamaican rum

Best Movies About Bartending

Best Movies About Bartending


While not every day on the job as a bartender is going to be movie-worthy, these are some of the best films about bartending.

If you are a future bartender, then the following movies will inspire, educate and entertain you.


Our All-Time Favorite Movies:


Coyote Ugly (2000)

Featuring:  Piper PeraboMaria BelloMelanie Lynskey

 This raunchy and wild film makes for a fun ride. Violet Sanford (played by Piper Perabo) is an aspiring songwriter who stumbles upon a women-ran NYC bar. She eventually gets a bartending job there, where things take off.

Why This Movie Rocks?

Recent film
Bartender lifestyle
Fun movie



Cocktail (1988)

Featuring a young Tom Cruise in his early acting days, Cocktail features a young 20-something trying to make ends meet.

Protagonist Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) turns to bartend and learns under Doug Coughlin (played by Bryan Brown) in hopes of becoming a thriving bartender during the 1980s.

Why This Movie Rocks?

Tom Cruise
Classic movie
Bartender lifestyle



The Drop (2014)

Featuring: Greg JoelsonJohn SavageKat Ogden

Having a more serious tone, the great James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) acts in his final film with The Drop. The movie follows an ex-boxer named Bob Saginowski (played by Tom Hardy) who decides to take on the ownership of a bar in Brooklyn. After purchasing the bar from his cousin, Marv (James Gandolfini), he is sent on a journey of crime, chaos, and debauchery.

Great movie for bar owners




Casablanca (1942) 

Featuring: Humphrey BogartIngrid BergmanClaude Rains

Winner of 3 Academy Awards.  By far the most iconic movie featuring the great Humphrey Bogart (many of his bartending quotes are famous, too), Casablanca won Best Picture in 1944. The movie is centered around a nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) who wants to protect an old girlfriend and her husband from invading Nazis.

Classic film for every aspiring bartender



Trees Lounge (1996)

Written, directed, and starring Steve Buscemi, this film takes us into the possible dark sides of bars and drinking. Tommy (Steve Buscemi) plays a self-destructive alcoholic whose life revolves around the Trees Lounge, a local bar.

The bad side of drinking

Lost In Translation (2003)

Featuring: Bill MurrayScarlett JohanssonGiovanni Ribisi

Focusing more on the drinkers at a bar than the bartenders themselves, this great movie is still a must-watch for every aspiring bartender. Featuring the incredible Bill Murray alongside the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, the story shows us a chance encounter between two individuals at a bar in Tokyo – and the unsuspecting relationship that slowly begins to take shape between them.

All-star cast
Bill Murray
Scarlett Johansson
Oh, and did we mention love





Hey Bartender (2013)

Featuring: Steve SchneiderSteve CarpentieriJim Meehan

Hey Bartender, a critically acclaimed documentary, is too good not to list here.

The documentary gives us an inside look at the most exclusive bars in New York.

This movie features interviews with some of the world’s most renowned bartenders – as well the “comeback of the cocktail.”

Documentary, technically not a “movie”





What did you think of our choices?  We’d love to hear from you.  Did we leave out any other classic films?  Fill out the form below