Do you want to know how to be a great female bartender? Between the long working hours and feminist statements made by male managers, patrons have been increasingly interested in female bartenders.
And yet, despite several ladies proving themselves, an old myth still persists: “Behind every successful woman, there’s a man calling the shots.”
To be honest, the bartending experience varies from one bar setting to the other. If you start your career in a local NY pub, brace yourself for some tough times ahead.
If you’re lucky enough to land your first job in a professional bar, read on. At the end of this article, you will fall in love with bartending as a full-time career, not just a part-time gig.
Bartending, just like other careers, comes with its fair share of challenges. The following tips are intended to make your journey as a bartender less arduous.
You may also want to check out our article on bartending tips for first-timers.
1. Know Your Drinks
Certainly, they already taught you this in school. It is extremely important that you understand all the drinks listed on the bar menu, including their specific ingredients.
Extend this knowledge to the food menu, too. Drunk customers don’t always have the patience to peruse menu handouts.
However, a quick suggestion from you will save the day and create more income for the bar. Upselling generates more money which equals a happy boss. If you keep up the trend, this might lead to a possible promotion or pay raise.
Bartending falls within the hospitality industry. You have to keep up the right attitude at all times. Simple acts such as greeting your customers or smiling at them count as well.
You may be having a bad day, we all do, but that should not be reflected in the way you handle customers. Learn to manage your stress before you attend to your patrons.
Similarly, as a female bartender, especially if you are good looking, it might be a challenge attending to a couple. The trick is usually to greet the lady first and then her man second.
If they feel like their ‘territory’ has been threatened, some ladies will feel insecure. Try to engage the lady as much as possible and keep off her man without compromising service.
3. Dress Code and Hygiene
Is your outfit acceptable? Etiquette should also be reflected in your dress code. Most female bartenders think you have to dress seductively to maximize your tips.
This is the wrong approach. In the end, men will perceive you differently, and some will try to take advantage of you. Similarly, do not dress as if your grandma just died. A bar is a happy place, not a funeral.
Maintain hygiene. Nothing screams unprofessional like a dirty bar. Both you and your workplace need to be neat at all times.
Customers will naturally be put off by a dirty bar or body odor. Make an effort to appear presentable at all times. Any empty beer bottles, spilled liquor, or dirty ashtrays should be cleaned up promptly. Also, use clean bar towels to wipe the bar top.
4. Be in Charge
If you are to succeed in this career, you must master the art of taking control of any situation without necessarily being assisted. As a bartender, you have to anticipate and stay ready for anything.
Is one of your patrons harassing your female clients? Handle the situation immediately and only call the bouncer if it’s beyond your control.
Did a customer just complain that the cocktail was too bitter? Offer a replacement immediately, even if the type they ordered is meant to have a bitter taste.
Then afterward, suggest that in their future orders, they should avoid drinks with mint, lemon, or any other ingredient that has a bitter taste.
5. A Good Memory is Key
During peak hours you might be overwhelmed by orders, and this may create a backload of orders. Train yourself to remember what each person ordered and move quickly.
It also helps to keep an updated stock of what you are serving. Check regularly to ensure that your bar is well stocked.
Similarly, make the patrons feel special. If you have a regular or maybe a customer hands you their credit card for payment, try addressing them by their names.
This creates a connection and makes them comfortable dealing with you. Remember that if the customer is happy you will also be happy.
6. Be a Good Listener
Some, if not most, people go to the bar to drink their problems away. Be the much-loved agony aunt to these helpless souls. Listen to them occasionally. You can keep the conversation going by contributing to the topic.
Let them see that you understand their predicaments without appearing too sympathetic. However, please don’t take everything to heart. Otherwise, you might end up a depressed bartender.
7. Control Your Drinking
Just because you know how to be a great female bartender doesn’t give you the green light to drink at every opportunity. If you have to drink, let it be in controlled portions.
Occasionally, patrons will offer to buy you drinks. It would appear rude to decline these offers, but at times it is necessary. Remember you are at your place of work and it doesn’t help to be intoxicated.
8. Evaluate Your Market
A great bartender knows what their customers want. Sometimes you can even recommend a drink for them. Suggesting drinks for customers is another way of making them feel more welcome, thought of, and appreciated.
You will be surprised at how often a customer will have that drink you suggested to them.
Similarly, know your customers, especially the regulars. Keep tabs of which drinks move fast in your bar and make sure to have them available at all times.
9. Be Swift
Do you like your orders taking hours to be prepared? Step up and move more quickly to meet the demands of your patrons, especially during rush hours. Keeping customers waiting will make your bar less popular.
Take caution, however, and be careful to avoid causing accidents or creating a mess.
In addition, lingering with one customer is not appropriate. As you tend to one customer, occasionally scan around the bar and check whether other customers are satisfied. It is entirely acceptable to excuse yourself, politely, in between conversations if you have to attend another patron.
The Bottom Line
In the list of how to be a great female bartender, respect always comes first. Whatever you do, don’t judge. People from all walks of life come to the bar; smart people, youth, the old, rich, rude, etc.
You are there to serve them drinks, and that is as far as it goes. If you happen not to like a particular person at the bar, try not to be so open about it or disrespectful.
Any bartender will admit that there are days when the job feels like a punishment. But if you stay positive, you will adapt fully to this profession without struggling. Experience is always the best tool.