Bartending is not as easy as you might imagine. While sitting on the other side of the counter, It’s easy to order for drinks and expect to get a perfect-timely serve. However to successfully get through a shift without major concerns, you have to prepare adequately in advance to be able to deliver efficiently and effectively.
If you are for instance helping a friend to dispense drinks at a birthday party or a casual meeting with friends, then it is easy to bar-tend as expertise isn’t required. You won’t need experience or a bartender’s manual to open a beer bottle or pour a glass of wine.
To get to the level of bartending that wows a customer takes time, practice, dedication, discipline, hard work, research and self-belief. As a bartender, my ideal kind of a bartender that I would prefer to work with is a fast, honest, organized and efficient bartender. To be clear, I googled the meaning of efficient as “the ability to accomplish a task with minimum expenditure of time and effort” No matter what type of bar you work or want to work at, when it comes to bartending, speed and efficiency is a must have set of skill or quality for every bartender. If you want respect from your patrons, which turns into tips, getting drinks to them correctly and in time, is mandatory.
Your speed and efficiency behind the bar is as important to how much you get paid as well as the quality of establishment or bar you can work at. It does not really matter if you want to work in a high-volume bar or not. Even in a slow paced bar or on a slow day, you never know when you are going to be hit by a rush. The only way to being fast and efficient is, thoroughly getting prepared for it. By going slow behind the bar when there are customers waiting to be served, it only costs you and the bar money. Customers can unexpectedly come in the bar in numbers at once, being prepared and ready will make you shift easily into high gear when necessary. If or when well prepared, you will be rewarded or else be eaten alive for the same.
Having noted that, it is also important to understand the difference between speed and efficiency. Speed is how fast you are moving behind the bar; however efficiency has nothing to do with speed. Efficiency can be referred to as above; “the ability to accomplish a task with minimum expenditure of time and effort”. Efficiency can only be achieved because of good systems, preparation, planning and organization in the bar. Efficiency is finesse not hard work, working smarter not too hard.
I have always imagined what pleasure it would be for a restaurant/bar manager or owner when he/she puts a fast bartender behind an efficiently set up bar? That is where magic happens, if I was the bartender, there would be nothing more I can ask for but to sufficiently take care of my customers and drastically improve sales. If you still put the same fast bartender behind an inefficiently set up bar, he will require a greater expenditure of time and effort to accomplish the same task to give same or even less results. As a customer, all you see is a gloomy and grumpy bartender who seems tired and worn out even during early hours of his/her shift. In that scenario, any customer that walks to the bar is seen as a disruption to preparation even if service has started. That leads to having a negative attitude towards work, boredom and eventually, unsatisfied customers, complains and low sales. As a bartender, I believe that “an efficiently set up bar is the ideal situation for what I always aim for; before, during and after shift.”
With that said, I think it’s important not to underestimate the importance of speed. Both speed and efficiency are crucial to becoming a fast, money making bartender. More importantly, as a manager, director or owner, always remember, just because your bartender is efficient does not mean he/she can slack behind the bar, being efficient only means the bartender is not wasting any time or putting in so much effort to accomplish just but simple tasks.