Just what is it that makes a bartender great? Is it the way that he expertly spins his bar spoon? Is it the fancy braces and jaunty bowtie he wears? Or is it the expensive glasses (that he probably doesn't need to wear but is sporting for fashion purposes) and his well-trimmed beard?
Personally, I think it’s none of these things – and hopefully you will agree with me. We live in a fast-paced world where people are dedicating more time to their smartphones rather than their relationships and friendships. A world where people prefer to text rather than talk face-to-face. A world where the number of likes you get is the key to your happiness. And it’s in this world that an excellent bartender shines, with his ability to offer an overall experience to his guests, a more personal touch – a human touch, if you prefer.
I’m a great believer that anyone can make good drinks; at the end of the day it’s all about measurements. Whoever I choose to put behind the bar and follow a recipe to make this or that, I can be pretty sure that they will deliver – they might not make excellent cocktails, but they will certainly make passable ones. And that’s why a good bartender should tick more boxes than just how many cocktails they know by heart or how many infusions they created last month using a shiny new siphon.
A great bartender should be the king of his bar. He should be knowledgeable, of course, but most importantly he should be hospitable – and that’s something that’s very difficult to teach, an X Factor that people do or don’t have. Being hospitable means that you truly care about your guests, that you want to share an experience with them, that you want to create memories with them.
It’s the little touches that make a difference, such as acknowledging them when they enter the room even if you have a million tickets in front of you. The fact that you raised your eyes to show you know they are there makes a huge impact. Be friendly but not too friendly, and always be aware when you have to give to your customers their space. Finally, a thank you and goodnight at the end of their visit will make them feel special even if you’ve said it a hundred times to a hundred different people during the night.
This article isn’t a guide to bartending; rather it’s a few ideas to take onboard and consider. After all, a good bartender can be anyone – but it takes more than a shiny shaker and a long bar spoon to be a great one.