Ckissner's Blog

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Research #2 June 4, 2009

Filed under: Research — ckissner @ 8:44 pm

So I have found some recent articles about bartending in general and a bunch about flair bartending. Some sites were interesting and some were quite boring. However, during my interviews this week I found a common denominator, so to speak, between all three of my interviewees.

            They all couldn’t stand the fact that, by the standards of Bartending Academy, as long as you know some recipes, can apply them, and pay for your two week course, you can be a bartender. 

            That is not the case; it takes much more, that is for the same reason not just anyone can become a chef. Just because you may follow a recipe out of one of Bobby Flay’s cookbook, it doesn’t mean that your food will look or taste good, and you certainly would not go around referring to yourself as, “America’s Next Top Chef.”

            I really do have a point here. I found a website that allows you to “become a bartender” How is that possible, I guess overnight? It is quite humorous to read the part where you can “grade yourself.” You have got to be kidding me, now I think I have seen it all.  Maybe you don’t care, maybe you think that it may be a great way to save the money you would spend on a bartending school. Here is my question, is this just a good starting point for a young wannabe bartender or do they take advantage of people who have had to learn by experience? Do they really think they can read about it and then apply it behind an actual bar? 

            How does one get started then? You have to be a part of the environment; you have to learn from watching, listening, making a horrible drink that gets thrown in your face by some drunken idiot.  The bottom line is that it is not as easy as people may think. Contrary to the article I found about what to expect from an online bartending, NOT everyone can be a bartender.

            I’m getting a little worked up; let me tell you about the positive article that I found.  This next one brings a more entertaining aspect to bartending.  It strays away from the idea that recipes and types of glasses and measurements is what bartending is.

            The only downfall of this article is that it compares flair bartending to, brace yourselves, Coyote Ugly. Don’t be scared I’m not referring to that dreadful movie with the main character’s father being John Goodman, I still see him as Dan Connor (from Rosanne). Now, I have been to a few Coyote Ugly bars, and I’ll tell you in case you haven’t had the experience…don’t go! Basically if you have been to Medieval Times, The Dixie Stampede or any dinner theatre you have already had the experience of Coyote Ugly, only you didn’t wait an hour for a drink and pay twice as much.

            So, I’m not sure in the direction that I will take this new research in, but I think I definitely found a theme I could focus on.


5 Responses to “Research #2”

  1. Josh Flynn Says:

    Although I have never bartended, I would tend to agree with the opinion that bartending school; and especially online classes, are no replacement for hands on experience.

    The atmosphere of bars does not call for the kind of precision for mixing drinks (I’m sure there are a few exceptions), but it is a high pressure environment when things are busy. At a decent sized bar there might be 2-3 bartenders working, and the ratio of customers to bartenders is usually pretty high.

    While bartenders don’t usually have the time out each ingredient of every drink they make; with experience they can definitely be close enough.

    I was just wondering if any of these bartenders had worked at a bar where they have the bottle pourers that measure shots poured by the ounce? Even further than that, there are some bars that have implemented systems that they can literally track how much of each bottle has been poured throughout a given night.

    I think it would be an interesting angle to investigate. I’m not sure how many bars actually use that kind of thing, and even if they do, how effective is it?

  2. Michelle Says:

    As I stated in my last post to you, I have bartended and I do agree that personality plays a large factor in who should be a bartender. Bartenders need to deal with all types of personalities from the age of 21 on up and bartenders need to deal with different people all the time. A majority of the time, it is the responsibility of the bartender to know how to spot if someone has had too many to drink and stop serving that person more alcohol. I have had to cut people off far too many times than I like to remember and some people do not handle being cut off very well. I have been called names and needed to keep my cool and be tactful when dealing with a drunk. Even though I was much younger and smaller than these people, I needed to remain in control of the situation. Not everyone knows how to deal with the situations you face when bartending.

    Anyone can learn to pour a drink or read the list of ingredients out of a book, but when the bar is crowded, the bartender needs to know how to make a slew of drinks without looking the ingredients up in a book. So I agree with you that learning to bartend online is not possible at least not where you would expect to be making tips.

  3. amrana1 Says:

    Hi Christine,

    As far as I know, you are my first friend who does bartending. I’m not really an alcohol-drinker, so I don’t really know anything about it or anything about the people behind it. =)

    However, I understand why some bartenders disagree with the idea of “if you can mix drinks, you can be a bartender.” I think bartenders, who have spent parts of their lives learning how to be a bartender, will not want to be compared to people who only spent two weeks in a bartending school. Just like some journalists who don’t want to be compared to bloggers because they have spent many years in journalism school.

    In my opinion, flair bartending style can provide entertainment to the customers. Some people go to a bar or a night club not always to get drunk but also to enjoy the situation there — to enjoy the crowd, to meet friends or to refresh their mind after a busy week. So, if people can see the flair bartending style at the bar or night club, that’s going to be a plus for the place.

    However, just because not everyone knows the technique of flair bartending style, does not mean the bartenders do not have a responsibility to perform better each time. They need creativity and real talent to do that. I think it’s the responsibility of the bartenders to develop their moves and to not just do the same thing — knowing the audiences are not experts.

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