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|Responsibilities||Taking customer orders and payment, making and serving drinks and keeping the bar area clean.|
£9.63 per hour / £18,789 per year
Top and Bottoms: Usually your own clothes, ask for the dress code.
Do you enjoy following recipes to the letter or love to let your creative juices flow by adding your own flair to a drink? If you don’t mind late nights, busy crowds and working under pressure then you may want to consider a job as a bartender.
The opportunities and places in which you could work as a bartender are endless, as there are lots of different types of establishments that serve drinks. This includes pubs, university student bars, fancy cocktail bars, fine dining restaurants, private members’ clubs or even as someone’s personal bartender.
Spend some time going to bars in your local area, have a drink and observe what’s going on. Then think about the type of place you’d like to work. Work out what your values are and what you want to learn. Then once you’ve got this clear, it’s time to start finding your dream bartender job.
Job vacancies will be posted on specialist jobs websites and hospitality job groups on Facebook, and also through word of mouth. Don’t be afraid of going into places in person and asking the manager if they have any vacancies going. People are often hired in bars for their personalities and fit with the clientele, so try to find a place that you like the feel of. And don’t take it personally if you don’t get a job, they may have found someone with more experience.
It’s important to apply for any job vacancy in the way the advert or manager asks. Follow the instructions carefully; it may be sending an email, filling in a job application form, making a phone call or going in person.
When writing your CV or talking in an interview, be sure to highlight any previous bartending experience you have. As well as any experience you have with serving customers, dealing with money and working in a fast-paced environment. These qualities will show that you’re a good candidate.
As with most hands-on jobs in the hospitality and catering industry, you will often be asked to go into the workplace for a short interview and trial. It’s essential to arrive on time and dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean a smart suit; it will depend on the type of place the bar is situated in. For fine dining restaurants or smart cocktail bars you will want to dress more formally than for a job in your local pub bar. Visit the bar before your trial to check out what the bartenders are wearing if you’re unsure.
Remember, it’s not all about your mixing skills and discerning palate. Behind the bar, it’s still about customers leaving with a smile on their face. You’ll also need to show the employer you’re friendly, reliable and someone they’d want to employ.
If you can’t get a bartending job right away, you may find yourself starting out on the floor serving drinks and clearing tables, or as a ‘barback’. Also known as a runner or bartender’s assistant, this is often the first stepping-stone for someone with no bartending experience. It’s a tough job and you’ll be starting from the bottom with the most unglamorous tasks, often in the busiest times (eg. weekends). But if you can prove your worth here, start learning where things are kept and a few simple recipes and your moment to step up will come. It’s also a great chance to find a bartender who you look up to and want to learn from. Help them out in the busiest service times, and maybe they’ll lend you some advice.
The day-to-day duties of a bartender usually include taking customer orders and payment, making drinks, serving drinks and keeping the bar area sparkling. As you gain more experience, you may also be recording recipes, shaping the drinks menu and responsible for sourcing out suppliers of certain ingredients. If you’re starting as the barback, you’ll be restocking fridges, taking deliveries, cleaning glasses, and helping out wherever you can in the busiest of times. You can read more about working as a barback here.
If you have the time and resources, you may want to consider getting some formal training. There are lots of options for people with no bartending experience, all the way up to the most advanced courses, so have a look around before you sign up. Soak up as much knowledge as you can, and take every opportunity to network with people you meet. Bartending work is often found through word of mouth so creating a good first impression is key. Look for certified courses in your area, or check out the European Bartender School, which has locations around the world.
As a full-time bartender in the UK, the average salary you can expect is £18,789, according to caterer.com. Hours can vary greatly depending on the type of workplace and how busy they are. National bank holidays, most of December and the summer months are often the busiest, which can mean you’re often working when others are enjoying time off. This is why it’s so important to love your work. Evening work is often inevitable, but it’s in your hands to discuss with your manager your ideal number of hours and days off.
In terms of career progression as a bartender, the ball is generally in your court. If you join a large hospitality group, there’s more chance of being given opportunities to move up the ladder and gain more responsibility, and better pay. But you’ll only go as far as you can push yourself. Whether your aim is to manage a large team of bar staff, create the drinks menu for a top cocktail bar, travel to work in the world’s best bars or win bartender of the year, you can choose which direction to take your bartending career.
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