Mixology 101: Top Tips for Pouring with Success

by | CAREER GUIDANCE, Career Paths

Once you’ve become an expert in mixology, you probably notice some differences from traditional bartending jobs. It’s not just throwing a rum and coke together or serving some shots to college kids. 

When you work at a cocktail bar, the clientele is more discerning and the expectations are higher. The dress code is more strict, the atmosphere more defined. You have to pay attention to every little detail in a way that you never did before. 

No matter if you’re behind the bar making the drinks or out on the floor serving them, working in a cocktail bar is much more demanding than your local watering hole. Mixology is both an art and a science that requires time to learn and master.

It can all be a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to get your feet wet in a new position. So, to help you get hang of it as soon as possible, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips to keep in mind while you learn the ropes.

Put on a show

If you work at a cocktail bar, you’re much more than just a bartender; you’re a performer as well. Yes, making a delicious drink is the ultimate goal but just as important is the way you make them.

These types of bars are all about creating a memorable experience. Whether it’s through the decor, the drinks, or the staff, they want to make an impression on anyone that comes through the door. 

You have to be as engaging as you possibly can, not just when taking orders but when you prepare them as well. You should try to mix your drinks with a theatrical flair that matches the mood of the environment.

This is the perfect opportunity to start building a personal hospitality brand. A strong personal brand and online presence will help you as you move through different stages of your career.

Be an expert

When someone goes to a bar that focuses exclusively on cocktails, they might have some questions. There are definitely people who know their way around a fancy drink but you may need to educate a lot of customers as well. A good amount of your time will be spent answering questions so the more you know, the easier it will be.

To truly be a mixologist, you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and the components they’re made of. You have to know your bar’s drinks menu by heart and be able to explain every specialty cocktail in both simple or complex terms depending on the audience. 

Whether the uninitiated newbie or the avid cocktail drinker, every type of customer will expect you to be a fountain of knowledge. If you want clients and your fellow mixologists to take you seriously, then you’ve got to hit the books.

Know how to sell

Depending on the market you’re working in or which part of the city your bar is located, drinking at a cocktail bar can be an expensive proposition. The margins are always good on alcohol sales and even better at a place that only serves booze. This means you want people to feel comfortable about spending a pretty penny every time they order a drink.

At certain cocktail bars, the house specialties may cost two to three times the cost of a normal drink. That’s a tough pill to swallow if you just want a stiff drink and can get it cheaper up the street. 

So, you have to be in full sales mode at all times when you're explaining your menu. You must be able to point out what makes your recipe so unique that it’s worth spending the money. If you can knock their socks off with your first cocktail, it’ll make selling the next one that much easier.

Express your creativity

Many people look at mixology as a science. Flavor profiles, different ingredients causing different reactions, ratios; all of this must be considered when working as a mixologist.

However, once you’ve mastered the science of mixology and feel confident in your knowledge of your components, it’s time you let your creative side run wild. This is where science becomes an art.

Much of your job will involve making classic cocktails or recipes that someone else created. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be experimenting on your own. Whether at the bar, or in your home, you should constantly be coming up with new recipes or putting your own twist on old ones.

The day will certainly come when your bar manager will ask if you have any of your own ideas. When that day arrives, you’ll want to be ready with a notebook full of recipes you’ve already perfected. You never know when your chance to prove yourself will come so must always be prepared to rise to the occasion. 

So, do you think you have what it takes to become a grand master of mixology? It can be a really well-paid and rewarding position if you’re excellent at what you do. Check out the open bartender jobs available on Hosco and start pouring today!



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