How to become a bartender in New York – People don’t always understand that there’s more to bartending than simply pouring beers and shaking cocktails, especially in a city that never sleeps.
On a wild night, New York City bartenders can undoubtedly be seen juggling multiple drink orders from an endless flow of customers. If a bartender has 12 drinks orders at the bar, for instance, and is also making drinks for the restaurant, that could add up to maybe 18 drinks at once that the bartender must attend to.
Many bartenders start as barbacks, which is essentially bartenders’ assistant. They would then learn very quickly, in a most unusual way, that a lot goes into bartending.”
Some bartenders who work part-time typically work the 9 am – 3 pm lunch shift on weekends but pick up an occasional night shift during the week, which would begin at 7 pm and end up going as late as 4 am. A bartender once joked that it helped to be a bit nocturnal.
The bartending job can be exhausting but lucrative, especially in a bustling city like New York. On a bustling night, bartenders in Manhattan can earn between $500 and $600, including tips.
One of the best ways to learn the profession is ‘trial by fire
Anyone can be a bartender. It doesn’t require any particular skill set — you have to be willing to progress and get more knowledge, which comes with time.
It is cool to go to bartending school, but most bartenders would advise skipping a formal program. The best way to learn how to bartend is trial by fire; they will tell you. That’s why it is recommended to start as a barback: That way, you get to trail a bartender closely, you get to see what’s really behind the bar, and you get to handle what’s behind the bar.
Even if you have no experience, it’s intuitive once you step behind the bar. A lot of the bartending experience is just common sense. While you can learn as you move along, for the most part, you will need to know the basics, like how to pour a beer properly. Bartenders would tell you that that would require holding the glass at a 75-degree angle.
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You would have to learn to job-hunt.
To experience being a bartender in New York, you have to bartend. But getting the opportunity to do so is pretty hard. New York is one of the most competitive cities to bartend. They don’t just hand out bartending jobs because you think you would be a good fit. Even worse, this is one of those scarce situations where experience might not be that much help, depending on the kind of experience.
You could even have seven years of bartending experience in any place other than New York City, and it wouldn’t be worth a thing in New York. This is because most bars are looking for bartenders strictly with New York experience. So you could have made it big somewhere else only to spend a whole year applying for jobs and landing a part-time gig or returning to the level of barback in New York. The job hunt in New York requires patience.
Your level of experience counts.
Getting a bartending job in New York with little experience is difficult. No one wants to hire someone without experience outside the bartending world. This begs the question of how to get experience without knowledge when everyone would require expertise.
It might take many rejections and disappointments before you can land a bartending job in New York. You have to remember that New York is an expensive city to live in. So If you have nothing else to fall back on and you’re hoping to land a job as soon as possible, maybe a bartending job shouldn’t be your only option. However, if you have some experience bartending in New York or maybe have a passion for it, it could be only a matter of time. As hard as it may appear, if you keep at it, you will eventually get a job.
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The Long Hours
Many New York bars have bartenders who work up to 10-hour shifts ending as late as 4 am. Are you truly ready for that? These shifts rarely come with lunch or bathroom breaks, and you’ll always have to be on your feet. It is not for the faint-hearted at all. You’ll often hear bartenders tell different stories of how they had to eat for more than 10 hours of standing: an orange slice, two olives, and a martini. In other words, get ready to lose some weight (at least initially). The hours would most certainly take a toll on your relationships.
On the other hand, if you live a nocturnal life, this could be your thing.
There’d be Things You’d Wish You Didn’t See
Working as a bartender would mean possibly being around drunk people who are not always in their right minds. You’re bound to see things. You’ll witness numerous fights and probably have to break up your fair share of them.
To be a New York City bartender, you’ll require thick skin. You’ll need to learn how to separate your general view of people and even the world from what you see at the bar, which could get overwhelming sometimes.
You’ll hear secrets you cannot share and learn some information you wish to forget quickly. It could be a big culture shock if that’s your introduction to the real world.
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Your Ever-Expanding Job Description
You sure won’t find 1-year vomit cleaning experience or maybe a breaking-up-fights certificate on anyone’s list of bartending requirements. But they sure come with the job. Sometimes you’ll have to fill in for another staff member who is late or absent and find yourself doing more than just shaking and serving drinks. There’s no way to prepare for what other responsibilities you might have to take on in a bartending job, but you’ll undoubtedly need to be flexible.
Working in the service industry is looked down on often or assumed to be the kind of thing you do because you do not have another choice. Even though bartending in New York City is widely regarded as a respectable, well-paying job, people still mistreat it. Badly.
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But then again, you’ll deal with highly intoxicated people who are not known for making the best decisions. You could get treated poorly, hit on, picked on, spit on, and so on. But you might meet some incredible people and generous tippers that would make your night and it all worth it.