Mentally Preparing For Bartending

Guess who’s Jewish and just signed up for bartending classes? This guy…err girl!!

Backstory: I’m currently unemployed. I’m also currently in South Dakota. Jobs are pretty hard to come by being out of state and all, besides the fact that my job of choice isn’t exactly plentiful. What do I want to do, you ask? Well, to feed your curiosity, I’d love to teach education programs at zoos. Yes, thank you, it is interesting. I’m going to assume you said “interesting” because that’s the most common response. Since I have no experience teaching children at a zoo, I need to gain it. Word on the street is employers appreciate experience, although that might be a myth. These internships are generally unpaid, so what better way to have an income than by bartending! Here’s what I’m most looking forward to, and also…dreading.


Well, duh. Who doesn’t look forward to a steady income in addition to extra allowance? While the paycheck won’t be nearly as bountiful as my last job, it’ll be something. And tips will be nice. I’ve never worked for tips before. Any advice to entice bar goers to feel generous? Smile big? Be friendly? Show my boobs?


It’s no secret that I’m not a night owl. Far from it. If falling asleep at 9pm was socially acceptable then my life would be complete. Unfortunately, that’s usually when all the fun starts. And as a bartender, you’re the keeper of the fun. You must be there to distribute the fun. Even if the fun doesn’t end until 2am, AKA when the bar closes. God help me if I work at a bar that closes at 4am. Mama’s gonna need some serious energy drinks. And nobody likes a crazy-eyed, shaky bartender hopped up on caffeine.


When I told my mom of my plans, she gave me these wise words of encouragement: “It’s always good to know how to make drinks”. Right you are, Mom. Oddly enough my dad said the same thing. He also said my mom will enjoy the tasting. Thanks for volunteering! It’s a daunting task memorizing all those drink recipes, though. But once you learn it gets easier, right? Let’s just say “right” and make me feel better. Woo! Glad that’s over.


My advanced pallet is can only tolerate shitty beers and mostly shitty wine. I can’t handle fancy drinks like martinis or daiquiris. Anything containing tequila is out of the question and I wish it was because it makes my clothes come off. I just do not like the taste of alcohol, especially hard liquor. If someone wanted to open a bar that only served chocolate milk…now that’s something I can handle.


Every night you meet new people! I have this vision of bartending on a slow night where some poor drunk bastard spills his life history to the friendly ear of the local bartender (me). I love hearing about people’s problems, half because they’re not mine, and half because I can try to help. Or at least order them a drink on the house to soften the blow. Even the crazy nights will be fun. Once at a bar I did some weird magic act with a bartender completely using hand motions and it was amazing. Got me free drinks. No number though. Next step. But that’s the kind of socializing I’m looking forward to.


Every night you meet new people. Not every night is going to be a scene from an old movie. People are going to become belligerent, rowdy and rude. Fun! And you have to serve them! You can’t dismiss them, hide behind the bar and pray for the night to be over. Well, you can, but I feel like that’s not a great way to stay employed. And if you have an off night, you have to be mildly personable. It’s not a desk job where you can sulk in your cubicle. You have to sulk in public. People don’t tip sulkers. I should make that a bumper sticker.

All in all, I’m pumped to try something new. Anyone have any outrageous bartending stories or tips for a new recruit? Leave a comment or tweet me @tobyjaye19.

Seriously, tips for a doe-eyed new bartender are greatly appreciated.

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