What’s a good bartender? Who’s a good bartender? Is there one parameter that makes a professional especially good in our profession?
Example 1: David, excellent with people, always has a smile, pleasant and interested with a high degree of emotional intelligence. David thinks through the eyes of the customer, creates a pleasant atmosphere for everyone, inside and outside. Except… he’s a human turtle. There is no way to work slower. It’s hard to describe how ineffective his bar work is. He is the ultimate host, but technically he’s a disaster for the service.
Barman 2: Ron, let’s say, David’s mirror image. Not a people person, service is a curse for him, Snobbish, impatient, and generally giving off a condescending vibe.
Except… he’s a bar machine: terminator of drinks, there is no ticket that he does not deliver in seconds, deadly efficiency, the man moves like a ballerina, a cat, his instincts and his hands produce excellent precise drinks. On top of all that an encyclopedia with a pulse.
So who would you prefer?
Obviously there is no right answer. It depends on the situation and your perspective. If you were customers at the bar, you could tolerate/enjoy both and if you were the owner of that bar, same. One would produce maximum service at the cost of efficiency, while the other would produce the opposite.
The world, despite the dichotomous age we live in, is anything but black and white. And therefore, my approach claims that David and Ron, both, are not good bartenders. Or maybe I should be more precise here, not good enough to break the boundaries of the waiter. And when I write “break the boundaries of waiting,” I mean one key thing: to be good enough at their job, professional enough, in order not to be perceived as generic service providers. If they weren’t standing behind this specific bar then someone else would be standing in their place, and everything was exactly the same. In the reality test, like it or not, most of the bartenders are David or Ron. They are good at certain things, and less so at other things, and accept it (and so do their employers,) this is the reality.
This is not worth special money, and rightly so. Because to treat the profession as a transit station on the way to another destination is to cheat.
The bartenders are not to blame, and neither are the businesses. This is an ingrained cultural thing, and also the result of a free market. After all, at the end of the day, the customer will decide where he will spend his time, where he will put his money, and I think the identity of the bartender influences maybe 0.2% of this decision-
Because the customer does not expect to receive an extraordinary experience from the bartender, and why would they? After all, bartenders are literally “anyone who stands behind a bar”. A bartender is seen as a hybrid of a waiter and a cook, providing service and preparing drinks, two in one. “They certainly aren’t doing anything I don’t know how to do” a lot of customers will say to themselves. And why won’t they? After all, everyone knows what the accepted training course is. A bartending course plus a few months of experience max, and you walk around like a peacock with a towel as a tail.
Then comes the mixology and with it the never ending debate “bartender or mixologist”. In essence, the title mixologist is said many times in derision, but it comes to describe a fundamental change in perception – regarding the bartender’s abilities. I’ve already heard many descriptions of what a mixologist is, starting from “a mixologist compared to a bartender is like a chef compared to a cook” to “a mixologist works in the preparations up to the service: syrups, infusions , fat wash, etc., while the bartender works in service itself.” Where there’s a debate about a definition then there probably isn’t one exact definition; therefore, it’s a matter of perception and here’s the point. In terms of self-perception, the very appearance of the term “mixologist” came to produce different levels of professionalism within the bar world, while “riding” on an ancient field that made a magnificent comeback, mixing ingredients and alcohol, or by what we know as: cocktails. In other words, the levels of professionalism that separate one professional from another can be measured by their ability to mix drinks, their knowledge of recipes, their mastery of the nuances that differentiate one cocktail from another.
And in truth, I agree. There is a very high value in my opinion of the bar experience, when a bartender knows how to make cocktails, has a skill based on knowledge and experience. This is shows in the customer experience, which is why we see places that specialize in exactly that, Cocktail Bars. This is a welcome evolution for the bartending profession, and also for the hospitality industry. As time goes by, it’s more common to order cocktails (remember when it used to be a gender thing?) and pay for them with the best of our money. In bars, restaurants, even on flights, people mix themselves small Negronis between meals.
So if the professional, bartender or mixologist decides on their own and transformed some kind of evolution that is reflected in their professional abilities, their clothing, knowledge, the design of their work environment and self-perception, then why are they not making more money than before? Why don’t they make more money than a waiter?
Because it’s not enough.
To complete the picture it’s appropriate and desirable that they know how to do the work in a way that attracts the eye. This is the deal breaker. This is why the work is done face-to-face with the customer, this is the difference between a bar and a kitchen. And this is the right way to bring the people back into the bar, from where they are today, out on the sidewalk. And yes, it’s definitely difficult, because acquiring “physical knowledge” takes about 50 times more time than acquiring “theoretical knowledge”, and requires an investment, as well as a change in perception, and the breaking of boundaries.
Like a doctor who volunteers himself for an experiment, that’s what we did. We have positioned ourselves as the spearhead in regards to aesthetic work. pay attention! No flaring, no show, no show of, not at the expense of efficiency, but simply aesthetic and beautiful work, complete control of our equipment, all the way from the stage of opening the shakers until the glass is placed in the customer’s hand.
we do it night after night Not in theory, in reality. This is our showcase and it grows and learns every day, about itself and the industry.
More and more places believe us and send us their professionals and step by step (and there is no other way, this process cannot be accelerated) they have more and more bartenders/mixologists who draw knowledge and inspiration from us.
And there are more, dozens of them, all deep in the process, and when they mature the mission will be theirs as it is ours. Because that’s how evolution is, it’s slow, and it can’t help but happen.
Talk to me and come practice, this is the best decision you will make in your professional life. I know, because I’ve done it.