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Author Topic: Have you ever been a bartender?
MissEltoe
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I was contemplating doing this, but I need some input.

My father and aunt are both longtime bartenders. (But my dad would hate for me to be one, so I don't want to ask him and my aunt of course, just says go for it!)

Anyway, I was thinking about just doing it on the weekends and/or a couple nights a week, just to earn a little extra money. I already work a regular 9-5. I figure I like going out anyway, so it's an environment I'm used to and I like. Plus, I'd rather make a little bit of money while being out as opposed to spending it!

I've only done a tiny bit of research (online, talking to a few people I know, etc.) about it, but of course I need you guys' opinions.... [Smile]

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Mosherette
Deck the Malls


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Put it this way: I lasted two hours. I hated it - certainly not the right job for me. I can't do mindless banter and found the customers truly annoying, the pay was crap (this was before minimum wage came in) and because I never had time to wash my hands, or indeed anything to wash my hands with, i just felt really dirty and grim the whole time I was there. Blech.

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Silence should never under any circumstances be construed as agreement. A lot of the time, it's simply a reflection that someone just said something so stupid that no response could possibly do it justice. - Ramblin' Dave

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FrogFeathers
Grandma Got Run Over By a Gift Card


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I took a bartending course at a "bartending academy" and I now tell people that it is a huge waste of time and money. The only time a class like that would be needed is if you never, ever went to a bar in your entire life. (I say: "It isn't necessary unless you've just left the nunnery and have never been inside a bar.")

Just get your city/county license and start applying.

I learned- and this seems to be the norm for where I'm located- it helps to have grill experience too. I'm not sure if that's a universal thing, but almost every place I applied (all 15 of them) required the bartender to also have cooking experience.

Good luck! [Smile]

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I've pulled a few pints in my time, from the industrial beer farms of University to the more genial atmosphere of country pubs but little that would really tie in to the scene you're looking at MissE.

That said, it can be enjoyable, and it can be a nightmare - i've never known anybody do casual bar work because they like it, and i've known a lot of people who've been under the impression it'd be like Cheers, it isn't, no matter how familiar you are with the scene from the other side of the bar.

When it's busy it was never long before I wanted to pop somebody's head off, and when it's quiet boredom kicks in swift and hard but there is a happy medium, when things are chugging along and you're in a good mood. I suppose one thing I could add is that in Oxford (here) you can pop into any pub and see students working and almost invariabley they have faces as long as wet weeks.

I'd love to own a bar, but to set it up and reap the rewards, not to work in it [Wink]

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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What about your health? Unless you live in a state or town in which smoking - even in bars - is illegal, you will be exposed to air which could be worse than anything allowed in any industrial workplace.

I used to have a recycling route, years ago, when smoking was still allowed in bars in my community, and a 30 second trip to the backroom of my primary source of bottles, and I came out smelling like an ashtray. Imagine what that would do to your lungs to work in that environment for hours on a regular basis, instead of just being there as a customer once in a while (also bad for you).

If smoking isn't allowed in your local bars and restaurants, bartending may be a good way to pick up some extra money, but take heed to the above warnings! Don't get sucked into it; like many other jobs, it might seem lucrative to a young person, but it's not a good career choice, as your dad has probably mentioned.

My niece left a retail management job (low paying, of course) to be cocktail waitress (to make more money from tips?), ended up an exotic dancer, but now is in school to be a nurse. Am glad she didn't end up tending bars, which is as deadend of a job as those other two bar-related jobs she tried for a while. Is quitting smoking, too, which would be very hard to do as a bartender.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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2ys4u
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I was seriously considering the same exact thing! Eerie! I am the same way as you.

I love the bar scene,but I can't drink until next August because of medication I am on. I figured if I'm sitting at the bar, and I'm not drinking anyway... I might as well get paid for it! [Smile]

I was going to go apply at a few places on Thursday!

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"Guns and butter."

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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It seems like in most urban areas bartending jobs are pretty hard to come by. They want you to have experience, know everyone who works at the bar, and start as a bar-back. And they want you to be an awesome bartender. I'd like to bartend if I was in school again, but I'm not sure I would ever get hired anywhere.

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Officially Heartless

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animal73
Deck the Malls


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What type of bar were you considering?

If it's a nightclub type, where you have to know how to make every goofy drink known to man and in a very quick fashion, they'll probably want you to have some experience first.

There's other bars out there (like a VFW, Eagles, other private clubs) where you (general starting-out bartender you) may be a lot better suited. At the bar where I work, we have a few bartenders who had never poured a drink in their life before, and they do fine here.

I agree with Frog_Feathers in that bartending/mixology classes are a waste of time, unless you plan on working on a cruise ship.

Lastly, the biggest problem that comes with working at a bar is all the draaaahhhhmmaaahhh...

You'll see what I mean after about a month.

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Radical Dory
God Rest Ye Merry Retail Clerks


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I've had mostly friends work in bars at restaurant franchises. One cousin of mine put herself through college that way, made a big impression, and now works in the franchise's administration offices. The general consensus among that method of bartending is it can make you good money and is usually less stressful than waitering, but can be hell when the restaurant gets really busy.

None of them went to school; they used the restaurant programs.

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"But about the reindeer...what kind of a nose shines? How did he get it? Maybe it's not a reindeer after all. It could be something else."

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I just looked at your profile pic... another thing to think about is that your sole purpose there is to go home with the patrons - or at least that is what THEY will think. You will get hit on unmercifully.

I put myself through college as a bartender at an Elks Club and a VFW. The most difficult drink I made was an Old Fashioned, so it wasn't hard. I got a total of about ten dollars in tips from the regulars. Banquets, however, were VERY lucrative, and I was able to make about $100 a night in tips. GOD how I loved wedding parties.

The problem was, I learned to hate drunks. Liquid courage makes complete asses out of people. I saw drunks start to beat the crap out of their wives for some OTHER guy asking them to pass a napkin. I saw guys hit on women as their own wives were there - wondering why it was taking so long to get drinks. I heard the most horrid stories about cheating spouses and incest and broken homes and divorce and bigamy and debt and lost jobs and every other story available.

If I had to, I'd still do it, but it isn't for the weak of heart.

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Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Pretty much everyone I know has pulled pints at one time or another (mostly in the UK, where tipping is limited to "and one for yourself." Although in the course of a whole summer I did get 10p, from an American on July 4th). It suits some people more than others, and also depends on the kind of place you work, obviously. It wouldn't hurt to try. If you hate it, try somewhere else; if you still hate it, stop.

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~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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desertdweller
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Does tending bar while in college earn credit hours? Seems that there are a few of us that did just that. Might make for an interesting thread "employment while in school".

I enjoyed tending bar. THe hardest part was looking up the drinks in the "Old Mr Boston" guide. Do bartenders still keep a copy of that behind the bar? THe most difficult part of bartending is keeping your freeloading friends from begging for free drinks. The saddest part were the regulars. It's not like Cheers at all. Bar regulars tend to be sad people, not the happy people like on Cheers. Maybe I am weird but I found listening to the drunken babble entertaining. Especially when a drunk guy tried to impress a woman.

But, to make money, being part time, you are usually the low person on the totem pole. THe senior people choose their shifts , usually Friday and Saturday nights, and the junior people get the left overs. Try working a bar on a Monday afternoon for tips. I got a shiny, new dime once.

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Just singin' in the Bahrain

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jw
The First USA Noel


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Never worked as a barman but did do lounge staff work as a youngster. A favourite pastime of Irish drinkers is to shout "whahheyy" or something similar,when a barman or lounge staff member drops a glass and it breaks into smithereens. This embarrassing act usaully means the whole pub joins in the mirth.
The callous nature of this always irks me. Is this normal elsewhere?

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On my old guitar sell tickets, so someone can finally pick it.

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Island Manta
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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My best advice is to go to clubs/bars you think you want to work in....at off hours....nacherly..and ask them there what it is like to work in that establishment. Where I live is an exception - a good bartender is revered...and makes TONS of tips...one guy (and old one, at that...big beard, etc etc) has made $300 in tips in one night. Bars here are big biz.

Yer sig location is NJ - if memory serves, you will have to addend some sort of bartending school, to gain a certificate. Check into that FIRST.

It can be lucrative...but you have to do your research....especially about WHERE you wanna work. If you don't, and go through the class (Etc) ....you may be sorely disappointed.

Good luck, either way.

-k

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Be good and you will be lonesome

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bthyb
WiFi Christmas


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quote:
Originally posted by surfcitydogdad:
What about your health? Unless you live in a state or town in which smoking - even in bars - is illegal, you will be exposed to air which could be worse than anything allowed in any industrial workplace.

Smoking is illegal in workplaces, including bars, in New Jersey. The exception is casinos.

At least that was the deal when I left this summer; I haven't paid much attention since.

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-- My sister and poet extraordinaire, Joanna Hoffman

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MissEltoe
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Thanks for the input everyone.

I like to hear the stories and ups and downs of it all!

I don't, for the record need to get a license or certificate. A friend (and obviously bartender) told me that all I had to do was purchase a "bar card" (which is what she did) downtown.

I wouldn't mind starting as a barback, I read about that somewhere online, because I figure it would give me the experience I need anyway.

The only thing that I (STUPIDLY) didn't think of, was that even though my town is full of bars, I'm not experienced even in waitressing. I wonder how much of a problem that would pose. I mean, like I said in the OP, my aunt and dad (and the friend I mentioned here) all work at an Elks (private bar/club). My aunt and her friend both suggested I start out there to familiarize myself with stuff, but I know from going there that they don't really mix a lot of the more "popular" drinks that people are drinking now; they do more traditional stuff.

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Licorice of the Lord! This is classy stuff...Should I be wearing a tie? Or, at least, pants?
~I'mNotDedalus

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Dogwater
Happy Holly Days


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I tended bar for 12 years in all. I learned when I was a waiter in a Mexican restaurant and honed my skills in Division street clubs in Chicago during college.

I moved on to managing the club I was at, but the bartender makes quite a bit more than the manager and has less stress-- I quit and took a position at a hotel bar for 7 years.

All told, my income was enough to contribute quite well to our household -- we bought a house and had two new cars in the driveway.

As far as money goes, expect to make about 20% of your ring in a more upscale club or restaurant. Begginers will earn about 10% because they will start out at slower, less "ritzy" places, or on crappy shifts.

Also, remember, you'll be required to claim tips for taxes, but it is usually reported with a wink and a nod. Claiming 10-15% of your ring will be more than most people do, and anything unreported is effectively 20% more (or whatever your tax bracket is).

In general, I had a great time tending bar. I liked the ass-busting nights. Talking to people? -- I was a "fan" of every team, and unless you said something totally abhorrent, I'd never argue against your politics. I remembered your drink, even if I hadn't seen you in a few months. Sure, I had my share of idiots and bad nights. I quickly learned to blow them off (After all was closed up, 18 holes of Golden Tee did the trick).

Now, mind you, I'm a real night owl. I could also be at home with our lil' ones during the day. Heck, even now that I'm in a 9 to 5er (consultant for a major quick serve franchise), I stll can't get to bed until after midnight.

As a final thought, I talked my youngest brother out of going to bartending school. Besides the fact that, as FrogFeathers said "it is a huge waste of time and money.", I was afraid of the money he'd make. It can be relatively big bucks -- so much so that he'd probably forgo college.

Anyway, it's my opinion that everyone should bartend or waiter once in his/her life. Learn that skill and you'll never have to worry about making ends meet if the "real job" goes belly up.

Edit to add: In response to your last post, you would have better luck starting as a cocktail server. Those jobs are much easier to come by and you can learn to tend bar on the job.

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Towknie
We Three Blings


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I slung drinks all through college, first on the floor until I turned 21, then behind the bar, and loved it. For a college kid, $20/hr sure beat the hell out of $6/hr at any other job.

I tried it again when I was 25, and didn't like it so much. The customers were older, drunker, meaner, and stingier.

I'm with Dogwater as it being an ultimate fallback, but now, pushing 35 with a kid that has to be at school by 7:30, I don't think I could do it.

It's a fast, fast lifestyle. That's something that nobody's really addressed in this thread.

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Towknie: Ryda-certified as wonderful, enlighted, and rational.

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Kid Kilowatt
Deck the Malls


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I think it's like any job - if the environment is good, you'll like (or at least not mind) the job. I was lucky enough to start out as a host in a semi-upscale Beverly Hills restaurant, and the GM kind of took me under his wing, and six months later I was tending bar, even though I had zero experience, and we had five people a day coming in to apply for the job who had been slinging booze for years.
I spent the daytime doing prepr work while shooting the crap with the waitstaff, and then the last two hours of my shift got crazy busy, went by in a flash, and I was always really energized when I left at 7 pm, so that I could come back at 11 and go out with my co-workers.
I didn't do it for very long (8 mos. - something in my chosen field became available), but for someone in their twenties I can't think of too many better jobs.
You will have to catch some luck to get hired w/o any restaurant experience, though.

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The book says, "We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."
- Magnolia

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2ys4u
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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MissEltoe, I talked to the manager of my local watering hole, and she said the best thing to do (as I've never had any waitressing experience either), is to either...

a. Try to work at a firehouse or other private bar.

or

b. Work as a waitress first and learn to make drinks as you go.

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"Guns and butter."

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