Evolution vs. Environment

Well, at the risk of enraging just about every politically correct, personality rubber-stamping, draconian societal you-must-like me snob, I’ll make the comparison: I’m believer that in this business, who you are is both a result of your DNA as well as shaped of your environment/experiences just like, ehem…. your sexuality <flame_on>.  Why do I make this point? There are all kinds of personalities and abilities – many of which are much better suited to bartending than others.

Your people skills, manners, attention span, patience, thick skin, acting ability, flamboyance, humor, poker face, ability to apply different rules to seemingly similar situations play MUCH MORE of a role to your bartending prowess and subsequently, income potential than your proficiency to make a world-class, or more often, a shitty, flat and too sweet Margarita.

Most anyone can memorize or be taught the drink ingredients.  NOT everyone can visualize and categorize who to server and when, in a 3-people deep bar where you have a drink knocked over, appetizers arriving for a couple, 3 empty drinks in front of a college set, a blender spinning a Daiquiri, 4 burly dudes asking for 3 different beers and 11 shots, a computer that’s gone down and is no longer processing credit cards, a broken ice machine (happens a lot), and an Granny demanding a Makers Old Fashioned (the right way) at the very end of the bar all simultaneously.

Furthermore, if you’re the kind of chick/dude who did not grow up with your annoying parents badgering you with things like: utensil etiquette, greeting people on the way in AND the way out, “thanks,” “please,”…. if you can’t carry on a conversation with your service bartender, waitress, hot co-worker while CONSTANTLY SCANNING THE BAR for needs, than this business is not for you – at least not in a busy club/bar.  You will fall flat on your face or be relegated to crappy shifts making $100 – $200 where you could be making double/triple those numbers, and/or constantly be leeching of your fellow bartenders in places where you pool, pissing them off severely, or worse – potentially having them throw you under the bus or outright steal from you!

The point is, using these tips, to try and figure out of this business if for you, if you could learn to acquire these necessary good habits or if you’d be better off in that icy fluorescent cubicle, sporting the tweed suit, the latest Manolos, going over those PPT sales figures in the Sales conference room with the bigwigs, and hitting the happy hour on the other side of the bar with all the other suits.

You cannot be a successful bartender if you do not scan and pay close attention to your patrons while, conversing appropriately, being pleasant, speedy, flirty, clean and knowledgeable.  You must stop leaning on the back-bar for 15 minutes straight looking bored, dressed in your best dirty New Balance 991s, unshaven, unapologetic (and giving buybacks) for screwing up an order, and are much more interested in spending 10 straight minutes flirting with your boyfriend/girlfriend or Facebooking while customers are waiting.

Unfortunately, quite a bit of what I’ve detailed here cannot be taught.  Some of it it can.  But quite a bit of it, or the ability to learn these qualities, is something you either have or you do not. I myself am OCD.

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