Grade Your Bartender
Good bartending is about showing personality and knowing how to interact with
customers, whether they prefer to communicate through lengthy conversations or
simple nods. Blending well-made drinks is only a small part of the equation. To be a
good bartender it is essential the individual have the will and talent to deal with
people on many different levels.
It's a lot like acting; your bartender needs to feel comfortable putting on a show. Just
as an actor draws the audience into a dramatic world, a really good bartender
creates a sort of theatrical experience for those sitting at the bar. Obviously
bartenders should be a good mixologists but while many schools can teach a person
how to make a cocktail or talk intelligently about a pint of beer, experience is often
the best teacher of how to make the customer truly enjoy their stay at the bar.
Bartenders have no official set of codified rules that list all the right and wrong ways
of executing their job. Every bar is different, just as every person is different, and it
is impossible to devise a system that works for all the various bars in the world, the
hordes of people who work them, and the multitude of those who drink there.
Nonetheless, bartenders, like anyone on any job, should be trustworthy, friendly,
reliable, hard working, clean, organized, and have a good memory.
When a person walks into a bar and the bartender greets them by name, asks if they
would like their regular drink, or offers them something from a previous conversation,
the customer feels important. Most good professionals will know over 200 names of
customers and drinks associated with them. That skill, by the way, translates into
more income for the bar and higher tips for the bartender.
Most people think the bartender at their local pub would get a high grade. Well here
are 20 questions for you to answer to grade your bartender. Answer them honestly.
1. Do they do everything they can to make the patrons happy within the boundaries
you have been given?
2. Do they have a professional attitude?
3. Do they know what they are serving and why? This is especially important if you
are at a craft beer or wine bar.
4. Do they quickly and efficiently make good cocktails without over pouring the
booze? Do they have to refer to a book for a drink recipe or pester another
bartender for help?
5. Do they handle the cash pay-as-you-go customers quickly and honestly?
6. Do they Insist on proper behavior in the bar?
7. Do they comp appropriately?
8. Do they control your environment for the comfort of the patrons? For example, Is
the A/C too high, Is the music too loud?
9. Are they good at banter or ready with a joke or funny story?
10. Do they keep a clean bar? Is the bar top wiped? Are bottles facing forward? Are
unused stools straight? Do they show they care about the appearance of the bar?.
11. Do they touch their face, hair, cough in to their hand, sneeze down, and then
grab a glass by putting their fingers on the inside par?
12. Do they talk to people? Do they say hello and goodbye to regulars and new
13. Do they ask promptly about filling your empty glass without being pushy?
14. Do they refrain from calling customers "Bud", "Pal", and "Honey"?
15. Do they dress and look like a professional who is proud of doing the job?
16. Do they constantly move around the bar doing their job or just stand in one spot,
chatting with bar personnel, watching TV, or playing with their phone?
17. Are they polite and respectful to the customer? Do they say 'please" and "thank
18. Do they offer intelligent drink suggestions when asked and call you by name?
19. Do they offer to call a cab for someone who has had too much?
20. Do they give you change that makes tipping easier?
Score your answers as follows:
1. Yes - 5 points; No- 0 points
2. Yes - 4 points; No -0 points
3. Yes - 4 points; No - 0 points
4. Yes - 2 points per yes; No - 0 points
5. Yes - 3 points; No- negative 1
6. Yes - 2 points; No - 0 points
7. Yes - 3 points; No - 0 points
8. Yes - 3 points; No - 0 points
9. Yes - 2 points; No - 0 points
10. Yes - 1 point for each yes
11. Yes - negative 2 points; No - 3 points
12. Yes - 1 point for each yes; No - 0 points
13. Yes - 3 points; No - negative 1 point
14. Yes - 2 points; No - 0 points
15. Yes - 2 points; No- 0 points
16. Yes - 3 points; No- negative 1
17. Yes- 1 point for each yes; No- 0 points
18. Yes - 2 points ; No - 0 points
19. Yes - 4 points; No - negative 1
20. Yes - 1 point; No - 0 points
Maximum score - 61
59-61: great bartender; a true professional
57-53: very good
52-48: just fair; needs improvement
47-40: below par; job in jeopardy
39-35: must improve performance or be fired
under 35: get a new job
Hope your bartender scored well. If not, you just might want to clue him in on before
the boss sees the results.
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