I’ve always wanted to be a bartender. Well, at least for a little while. Just for the fun of it. But the thing is… I’ve never bartended. I’m 21 and don’t drink enough to know how to open a beer bottle or properly uncork a wine bottle. So when my friend offered me a gig at her wedding, I went for it. If a friend who worked at a local pub were to give you a once-in-a-lifetime “trial run” on Saturday night and even vouch for you to their boss, would you wanna mess it up? No, I don’t think so.
So when it comes to your first time – whether you’re showcasing your non-existent skills to your friend’s boss or helping out the friend who’s planned the perfect wedding from the time she was six – here are the basics of how not to screw it up so you don’t ruin your chances (and your friend’s) of serving at a bar ever again.
DO take orders correctly
In any situation, remember when the “round five” lady comes back (she expects you to know her middle name by this point) and wants you to pour coke with only a splash of red wine to fool her alcoholic eighty-two year old father into thinking that he’s drinking the real thing. Oh, and fill it higher than her glass of actual wine so he’s properly duped into thinking he can handle liquor better. If you need to brush up on your wine facts, check this out.
DO listen to the customers
Like, actually listen. Nothing’s funnier than overhearing some crazy gossip in the middle of your long shift. And if a customer has any special requests, you might also want to pay attention to that too since you only somewhat know what you’re doing.
DO ignore the other bartender
Unless it’s your friend mouthing drink directions to you across the bar. But other than that, when you’re chatting up a cutie and find out he’s almost twenty-one (as in, his birthday is at midnight), stealthily pour Budweiser into an empty cup and offer him the non-alcoholic beverage. After he gets that, “Oh, this is not coke” look on his face, wink, smile, and pop the top off a Bud for the next customer. It’s like the bartender’s “bend and snap” but much, much better.
DO stay on the boss’s (and bride’s) good side
Encourage the customers to consume the most expensive drinks in the bar instead of partaking in the wells specials. Or in the case of a wedding, the special “self-concocted” beverage that the newlyweds created (i.e. the “Groom’s Last Name” cup, ex. “Stanley” Cup) since that’s the soon-to-be last name of the bride. It’ll make their night. Trust me. If they’re trying to cut calories, this is what they should order.
DO learn the tricks of the trade
Know how to use a corkscrew before you go to the bar (or wedding), because you might leave half the cork in the bottle when you try to yank it out. If you don’t, you’ll have to resort to using it as the sample “Chardonnay” in the display line at the front of the bar, pretending you didn’t get it stuck the first time when you do it again later.
And remember, pour wine instead of spilling or splattering.
DON’T leave the bar
Even if you want to take dance breaks. You might get called out by the other bartender, and he’ll think he deserves more of the tips (like, c’mon, it was twenty minutes bro, not three hours).
DON’T steal wine
Don’t let a drunk customer (even if he is your friend) bribe you into any free drinks. If the boss catches you, you’re done for. Or in the case of a wedding, don’t let him take the leftover wine home with him. The bride’s family will want the “return to store” cash. Remember, they’re already paying you. But if you have leftover wine bottles, this is what you can do with them.
DON’T wear heels
Ever. You’ll walk around for hours, carry large tubs of ice, step on someone’s foot, trip over a carpet, spill wine on your toes, and someone will film you during your “dance breaks.”
DON’T waste alcohol
When you spill beer on your outfit (even if it is a dark color), it still smells. When you walk past someone and notice them recoil in pain, you know you have a problem. The boss might kick you out ’cause you’re turning away customers and losing him money. In the bride’s case, well… She’ll just not invite you to the baby shower.
DON’T touch the boss’s drink (or the wedding cake)
I repeat, do not touch anything that the boss deliberately tells you not to touch (’cause you’ll lose your fingers) or “closely observe” the wedding cake. If you do, you’ll set the tablecloth on fire by knocking over a candle, melt the “LOVE” sign on the top into “LOV” when it falls off, and inevitably end up burned by the bridegroom’s father.
DON’T piss off the boss (or bride)
At a wedding, don’t sign the guestbook. Someone will set a place for you, and the bride will be pissed someone didn’t show. And when the bride and groom ask for date idea suggestions, don’t take it as the time to set up a prank. Especially if the suggestion involves photoshop and a strip club. No one wants a bridezilla. And if you decide to prank your boss on the first night on the job, don’t expect a second chance (guaranteed). If you need help getting back on their good side, find out which drink matches their zodiac sign and make that.
DO make a congratulatory drink at night’s end (or the “Groom’s Last Name” Cup)
As a reward for all your hard labor (and making it through the night), pour yourself a drink. To appease the bride, toast to their happiness with their “concoction.” Start out with a cup, red wine (any kind you want), and Coke. Then fill it with lots of ice. Pour in a little bit of Coke (maybe halfway), then pour in a little bit of red wine (pretty much ignore the little and put as much as you want).
#SpoonTip: I find it’s better when you fill the cup (depending on its size) with half Coke, half wine. Don’t shirk the wine; the drink is best when you taste it.
And done. Simple as that… Enjoy. You still have a job (maybe).