Each job we have teaches us something; bartending is no exception. Even if just as a summer job, everyone should do a stint working in hospitality. The experience will forever change the way you carry yourself in public, communicate with others, and even order a drink. Here are eight reasons why everyone should bartend in their life.
1. Bartending is a crash course in small talk.
Have you ever been to a party or professional mixer where you didn’t know anyone and, instead of networking, you became glued to the snack table? When you bartend, you learn how to strike up a conversation with anyone. It takes time to hone this skill, but once you do, it is an ability that will come in handy for the rest of your life.
2. It teaches you that communication is key.
On a similar note, working in the service industry emphasizes the importance of communication. At a bar or restaurant, the better the communication between floor staff, bar staff, kitchen, and management, the better the service will be. Whether that means informing other staff of a broken ice machine or a sold-out menu item, the sooner information is communicated, the sooner issues can be addressed.
3. It helps you become more decisive (at least about the small stuff).
Nothing is worse than a bar guest who has no idea what they want to order. Especially on a busy night when you don’t have time to finesse an order out of them. You learn that when in doubt, look at the menu and pick something. It is just one drink. If you don’t like it, don’t order it again, but now at least, you know.
4. It reinforces the value of teamwork.
Bartending is a team sport. You, your barbacks, managers, and other bartenders all have roles to play. If someone miscounts the money or forgets to restock, it affects everyone. You learn to pull your weight so you don’t let the rest of the team down.
5. You must learn how to work in a stressful environment.
At a busy bar, you are expected to stay focused even with pounding music in your ears, people yelling orders at you, and with lights so low that you can barely read your drink tickets. The only way to work in this environment is to let the chaos cancel itself out. You learn to tune out everything but the immediate task at hand. And when you are totally overwhelmed, take a deep breath, closing time always comes.
6. Like a good boy scout, you learn to always be prepared.
When I was learning to bartend, an older bartender said to me, “There’s a lot you can’t control, but if you are underprepared, the only person to blame is yourself.” I’ve kept that advice in mind ever since. You never know what will happen in a shift, but preparing yourself for the worst case scenario means you’ve done everything you can to handle the situation.
7. You learn the importance of awareness.
It’s amazing how people can be so unaware of their surroundings. It’s little things, but you notice the people who make room for others at a crowded bar or those who add a thoughtful “take your time” to their drink order when they see you are busy. A little consideration goes a long way.
8. At the very least, you learn how to make a cocktail.
It’s a useful party skill to have in your back pocket. Bartending also helps you refine your palate. Even if you are not a drinker, it gives you an appreciation for the complexity of the spirits world.