Last night was the halfway point in the Bartending Course I teach at a local college here in Orangeville and it was also the night when the students fill out a course evaluation on what they think of the course so far.
Along with teaching them the basics of bartending and cocktail recipes that one should know if they want to persue employment afterwards , I organize field trips to local bars where they get a first hand look at a real life bar. For example , tonight we went to a pub where the owner did a great job for an hour talking about what qualities one should have to be a successful bartender. From being a people person , to having a good memory , and being organized were just some of the attributes one should have if they want to get into this profession.
But what was different about this field trip as I like to call them was this owner actually asked the students if they would like to make a drink behind the bar when an order came in. Now it wasn’t very busy but when the group was asked only a couple of people volunteered to make one which brings me to why I am writing this.
No matter what I do to help them get ready for work as a bartender , only about 10% will ever go on to do anything after the course. It is not my fault nor should it be their fault. This business is not for everyone and although from an outsider’s viewpoint it may seem fun and not require much education , it does require athleticism. Most of all a person must see themselves as an entertainer above anything else and have great self-confidence so that they can deal with all sorts of people who may wander in.
As well they must learn their drink recipes and practice , practice , and practice some more. Before the completion of the class tonight I quizzed the class on drink recipes and hardly anyone knew the ingredients of drinks we had gone over the past 4 weeks. I was not surprised because even though the course is fun trying all the drinks , it is setting in that maybe this is different than what some of them thought it would be when they got started. It is not as easy as it looks.
You see no in school ever wants to grow up to be a bartender or waiter. But it is there in case nothing else comes to fruition. People think they can fall back on it cause like all you do is make a drink and people leave you a tip. There is so much more involved that goes on to get that tip than most people realize.
Yes you can learn a lot in the classroom but with these trips to the local bars and the periodic recipe quizzes that occur , you find out who are the keen ones and the ones who now are deciding what the other options are besides bartending.
All I can do is help them decide if Bartending is for them. If 2 to 3 people go on to bartend out of 15 in the class , I would consider that to be pretty good. As for the others at least they can cross bartending off their list and move on to something else. It is better to have found out you don’t like something as much as you thought you might , than just sit there and wonder year after year.
Any comments on what I have just written are always appreciated.