Career watch: The fine art of mixing drinks
Do you love to show off your bartending skills when entertaining friends?
Do you envy the life of that crucial person behind the bar at a nightclub or hotel?
If the answers to the above questions are yes, then you might want to explore a career as a bartender.
However, you will need to know more than just mixing drinks, and the job is not necessarily as glamorous as it might seem.
So what makes bartending such an enviable job?
For starters, bartenders bring home an excellent income along with a host of other benefits.
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Behind the bar
A bartender's job revolves around the preparation of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for customers at restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pubs, lounges and private parties.
Bartending is an appropriate profession for those who wish to keep a distance from the gruelling corporate world.
A career in this field gives people the freedom to choose a work environment that suits their personalities.
Besides making and serving drinks as ordered by the customer, some of the other job responsibilities of a bartender include taking care of equipment at the bar, planning bar menus, creating cocktail recipes, managing the bar inventory and keeping the work space in order.
Head bartenders are also required to supervise the work of other bartenders.
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
The highs and lows
Career options for bartenders mainly lie in the hospitality industry.
One can start off as a bartender in restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, pubs, resorts and on cruise lines. In due course, climbing up the career ladder is a possibility.
One can host workshops to impart information to aspiring bartenders. These days, a large number of bartenders have begun to branch out to offer their services on a freelance basis without being tied down to a single restaurant, hotel or nightclub.
As a bartender, you will get to meet and interact with many interesting people on the job. Being friendly is an important quality. Since it is an infinite learning curve, you need to soak up as much information about the industry as you can.
Keeping abreast with new techniques and trends is also a must. It's important to think out of the box because at times, you might find yourself being asked to prepare a drink with a certain set of ingredients as requested by the customer.
While bartending can be a highly rewarding job, it can also get stressful at times. Be prepared to work late nights and on public holidays too. Taking care of demanding customers, especially on weekends, and standing on your feet for long hours on end also form a part of this job.
Bartenders also need to be highly attentive to customers. Lastly, speed is of great importance in this field, as people tend to get demanding at times.
How can I become a bartender?
There are some basic requirements for those who wish to pursue a career in bartending.
First off, one needs to be at least 18 years of age to be a part of this industry. One can apply for a job as a bartender after completing Class 12.
A qualification is not mandatory, but passion is. Most successful bartenders are armed with a background in hospitality management.
A bartending course is all that is needed to prepare you for a career in this field. There are many courses available in India.
Most of them start from scratch and teach aspiring bartenders the basics of wine, beer and spirits, as well as the essence of mixology, glasses used, pricing, brands, ethics of working behind a bar and laws related to licensing. Speciality workshops also help one to learn new bartending methods and keep up with the times.
Photographs: Arko Dutta/Reuters
A surge in demand
There was a time when bartending was a poorly paid career, but those days are long gone with the arrival of the professional bartender. In India itself, the profession is booming since the social taboo that alcohol once represented has gradually been lifted.
A large number of girls are choosing to become bartenders, breaking away from the traditional notion of this field as a male-dominated one.
While a trainee bartender can earn approximately Rs 3,500 to Rs 6,000 a month, a head bartender can rake in anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000, exclusive of daily tips. An efficient freelance bartender's earnings can go up to Rs 15,000 per night.
All in all, bartending can be a fun and lucrative career only if you have the skills and passion to do it. If you are looking to have a little bit of fun at work, then bartending could be the right job for you.
The advantage of molecular mixology
In recent years, bartenders have been using scientific techniques to create new cocktails with the aim of creating a better drink.
Inspired by the practice of molecular gastronomy, the main aim of molecular mixology is to experiment with states of matter to create new textures and flavours, thereby enhancing the drink to a great extent. It includes the use of foams, liquid nitrogen, mists, gels and heat to create new flavours and textures.
Where to study
The following institutes offer courses in bartending:
- Tulleeho Bartending Academy, Bangalore
- Indian Institute of Bartending, Chennai
- Cocktails and Dreams -- School of Bar and Beverage Management, Delhi
- B'Mann School of Bartending, Hyderabad, Chennai
- Indian Professional Bartending Academy, Pune
- Bacchus Bartending Academy, Navi Mumbai
Image: An increasing number of girls are entering the profession these days
Photographs: Ian Gavan/Getty Images