By: Amber McDonald
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For many people, finding an accommodating bar with an entertaining bartender, especially in crowded cities, is as important as finding the right beauty salon and hair stylist. If providing this service is your fortè, you understand that being knowledgeable and full of personality will keep customers coming back, not only for the drinks, but to see their favorite bartender, too.
According to professional bartender Valerie Mallema, a bartender who can initiate interaction and activity among bar patrons is more likely to create “regulars,” and better bar business.
“Games, tricks, and toasts provide a feel of camaraderie and fun in a bar,” Mallema wrote in her book The Professional Bartender’s Handbook: A Recipe for Every Drink Known — Including Tricks and Games to Impress Your Guests. “Keeping the guests entertained helps to sell drinks and fill up tip jars.”
Keep the cash – and the liquor – flowing with these four bartending techniques. The engaging activities will transform you from the typical “order taker” to a charismatic, personable bartender:
1. Games are a guaranteed way for getting patrons to loosen up and have a good time at your bar. Try introducing some of these entertaining activities the next time you notice a group of people struggling to make conversation:
Football Madness: This game is for two or more players and must be played during a football game on television. The game is more fun if there are individuals rooting for different teams. Before the game begins, each person must announce which team they are supporting.
To Play: Players take the corresponding number of drinks when the team they are not supporting gets a:
• First down: 1 drink
• Touchdown: 3 drinks
• Field goal: 1 drink
• Two-point conversion: 2 drinks
• Interception: Finish drink
When the team you are rooting for receives one of the following, the player must take the corresponding number of drinks:
• Fumble: 3 drinks
• Safety: 3 drinks
I Never: This game is best played with two or more players – the more the merrier.
To Play: Players take turns announcing actions that they have never done, such as “I have never smoked a cigarette.” After the player makes their statement, all of those players who have done this action must take a drink. If a player makes a statement and nobody else has done it either, that player must take a drink.
If a player makes a statement and is accused of lying, the accuser must have proof that the individual is lying and must provide an accurate description or circumstance in which the person did that action. If the player is caught lying, then the player must take five drinks.
2. There are many tricks of the bartending trade.Familiarizing yourself with a few will pique a guest’s attention, while showing off your bartending knowledge and skills. Popular tricks include:
Multi-mixing: At most bars, shots are ordered in rounds for groups of people. To make two to four shots, quadruple the recipe to save mixing time. Line up the shot glasses and pour down the line.
Be in the Know: Bartenders gain a lot of respect when they keep up with what is going on around town. Be sure to check out the entertainment section of the newspaper and get up to date on current events, parties, bars, movies, and concerts. Many out-of-towners will come to a bartender for information on the city and directions. Be prepared for these situations.
Flair: One way to get the attention of customers while working is to use working flair. Working flair consists of doing little things like flipping the shaker tins before scooping ice into them and then pouring two liquors at once. Add flair to shaking, stirring, and pouring. Flair might consist of learning to spin and flip a bottle before pouring, or tossing a shaker between hands while preparing a drink.
3. Toasting is a great way to honor someone. Toasts are often difficult to come up with, so, being a bartender, someone might ask for toasting ideas and suggestions, which could include:
“May all your troubles be little ones.”
“May the most you wish for be the least you get.”
“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. ” – Ogden Nash
“Here’s lookin’ at you kid.” - Humphrey Bogart
“Here’s to cold nights, fine wine, and good friends to share them with.”
4. Part of being a great bartender is having an extensive drink recipe repertoire.As a bartender, you will likely be asked to suggest drinks for customers, or to simply whip up something tasty that has a particular alcohol, like vodka. Try making these your go-to recipes:
Tasty Drink Recipes
2 oz. Vodka
¾ oz. Cointreau
1 Lime Twist
Directions: Fill mixing glass with ice. Pour in ingredients and fill with cranberry juice. Shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime.
½ cup of Ice
1 oz. Rum
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ oz. Vanilla Liqueur
½ scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream
½ scoop of Orange Sherbet
Directions: Blend all ingredients until smooth. If too, thick add milk. If too thin, add ice or ice cream. Garnish with Popsicle stick.
1 ½ tsp. Amaretto
1 ½ oz. Blended Whiskey
Juice of ½ Lemon
Directions: Pour all ingredients into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes, stir, and serve. Bourbon may be substituted for blended whiskey, if preferred.
2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Superfine Sugar
3 oz. Club Soda
1 Maraschino Cherry
1 Orange Slice
Directions: In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a Collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.
1 ½ oz. Tequila
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ oz. Blue Curacao
2 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Cranberry Juice
1 Lemon or Cherry
Directions: Fill a tall rocks glass or tumbler with ice. Add tequila and Triple Sec, followed by the orange and cranberry juice. Add blue curacao. Do not mix. Garnish with lemon or cherry if desired.
If becoming a more effective and personable bartender is your goal, the suggestions included will certainly start you on the right path to drink making greatness.
For more great recipes and to learn how to make your bartending business boom, check out Atlantic Publishing Group’s The Professional Bartender’s Handbook: A Recipe For Every Drink Known — Including Tricks and Games to Impress Your Guests.
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