Finding a Job as a Bartender
by Darcy O'Neil on September 2010
As many of you know I'm currently not tending bar. This is the first time in about four years that I've had Friday and Saturday nights off, which is kind of nice, but I don't know what to do with my weekends. Anyway, I've been browsing the "Want Ads" and there seems to be plenty of bartending jobs out there, just ones I'm not interested in. Yes, I've become fussy. I want to work at a place where I get to do what I do best, not what some high school drop out, who drinks too much, tells me what to do.
When people think about a bartenders job, they tend to think it's living the party life. Stay up late, hang out in a bar, meet good looking girls/guys, and drink on the house. Well if you are an aspiring bartender this usually isn't the case. Most owners watch the alcohol like a hawk, if you are off by an ounce some owners take it out of your pay. Most owners are slave drivers, and even if the management is decent, your co-workers may be idiots. They'd be the ones who are trying to make bartending the 'party life' but don't do any of the behind the scenes work.
When it comes to bartending income, it can be hit or miss. This is unless you are lucky enough to work in a very high volume place, but then you only win on the weekends. The rest of the week balances out the high income weekends. When bartenders talk about tips, it always reminds me about gamblers. You see gamblers only ever talk about their winnings, never their losses. You never hear a bartender discuss his Tuesday night earnings.
Basically what I’m saying is that bartending is like any other job, except we earn our income from the kindness of people buying drinks. Jeffrey Morgenthaler wrote a good article about the Myth’s of Bartending. So when I get my next bartending job, I want it to be a good one.
I don't think I'd have a hard time finding a bar position, I've worked hard to become good at what I do. But, I'm weary of working for a person like my last boss or working with the crew of 20 year olds at my job before that. So here's what a dream bar job would consist of:
- A manager who doesn't drink while they work. Sure, a drink towards the end of the night, or a drink with a really good guest, no problem. The only time I have a drink (no more than two) is in the last hour of work, if it is allowed. If the manager has a drink before the 6PM rush, or the 8PM turnover, no thanks.
- Co-workers who actually care about their job. I'm in my mid 30's so I’ve long ago left the "bar scene". I don't want to party until the sun comes up and hangovers are for special occasions, not every weekend. That means I probably seem serious to the younger ‘tenders who treat the job as a way to get through school and a reason to party while they work. I'm serious about my job, but I'm not a stick-in-the-mud. I just get satisfaction from working hard.
- A manager who enthusiastically promotes good cocktails and understands them to be a revenue source for the establishment, not just a drug to get people liquour'd up.
- Co-workers who enjoy their job. I don't mind working with people who are just paying for school, as long as they don't screw everyone else.
Well it looks like I may never find my dream job, unless a new restaurant opens up in this city or I open one up myself. For now I'll just continue to write about cocktails and work in the lab. As luck would have it, the lab has become significantly busier so I can almost make a full time job out of it to pay the bills. Yes, I still work in a lab, a Molecular Pathology lab to be exact. Working in a lab though just isn’t as exciting, or as fun as working behind the bar.