How to Become A Bartender

So you are wondering how to become a bartender…

Bartending has to be one of the most fun jobs in the world. We have our reasons. As a bartender, you offer up a product that customers crave. So how does someone get started? Research! Now this isn’t just spending a few hours searching the internet for How To Become a Bartender. Your research should be in the form of pulling up a stool to ask the lonely bartender how they got started. We have a few stories from past students, but talking to a dozen, or so, bartenders is definitely the best way to go.

There are many paths leading behind the bar. A few of the more popular options include

  1. Start at the bottom In big restaurants and bars.
  2. Be a jack-of-all-trades and target smaller restaurants.
  3. Learn online.
  4. Take a bartending course and learn.

Starting At The Bottom

Without any experience whatsoever, a restaurant might take you on as a dishwasher…assuming you can at least tell the difference between a clean and dirty plate. Given time, maybe they move you to the front of the house to help clean up the place. If you happen to be lucky enough to move to a host or hostess position, then maybe you can graduate to serving…then eventually behind the bar. This is a very long process though in any established restaurant and you will continually get frustrated by new hires stepping into those vacant positions because they have experience. If you have lots of time and faith management will eventually do right by you, then this might be your best approach.

Being a Jack or Jill-Of-All-Trades

Again with little to no experience, seeing a ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window means the management just needs a warm body to help out in the place. Now this doesn’t mean you would coming into their establishment as specifically a bartender. You would be expected to do a little of everything. Drinks, cleanup, sweeping up garbage around the parking lot, light food preparation in a pinch. Sure it is a quicker path to behind the bar, but in many of these establishments all you would be serving is light beer and wine from a box. Hardly what you were thinking a bartending career should be.

Sit with Youtube For Days

There are numerous Youtube videos out there and online courses that will coach you through the basics of bartending. These courses are designed for those looking for a quick introduction. History of each of the spirits can be reviewed and memorized. Recipes for common cocktails can be committed to memory. You would still be lacking much in the way of hands on skills though, unless you had access to a bar and a whole lot of friends willing to try out your practice drinks. Online learning programs are general in nature. They won’t be able to tell you about what kind of drinks are popular in Vancouver, or wherever you live. They won’t outline best practices for your region, or what local bars are really looking for.

Take some Bartending Classes

There is much more to learn than how to crack a beer or mix a rye and Coke. Fine Art Bartending has been around for more than 30 years, teaching not only drink recipes and booze history, but also real hands on drink practice. Participating in a class where an instructor can outline best practices is way different than learning at home. Experienced instructors will coach students through proper bottle handling to minimize arm and wrist strain, as well as efficiency tips to speed up drink preparation. Speed, accuracy, and presentation all translate to more tips. A customer tossing a dollar or two into your tip jar is the ultimate compliment to your drink making abilities.

With all those years of continually revising our content, updating recipes and best practices to reflect what local bartenders really need to know, we now have the best bartending course in Vancouver, which is also why we teach the most students in town. Register today and we will teach you how to become a bartender!

Have Fun as an Event Bartender

Want to be a Private Event Bartender?

Are you great at promoting and presenting yourself in a clean crisp, professional manner? Look at landing a job at a private party as an event bartender. Succeeding in the catering and private party business depends a lot on your cocktail knowledge but it’s also who you know. You need to create connections in the bartending community and know how to effectively market oneself. Become that person that is in demand and run with it.

Event Bartender dressed in black whiteBecoming an amazing event bartender sounds very simple but sometimes it comes down to answering an ad on Craigslist or meeting people at parties. Whether you have worked in the business a long time or you’re quite new and want to build a name, start making contacts or skim through those classifieds. If you have the proper tools to be that guy/girl that people WANT as their Bartender at any given Event, then you are set!

An Event Bartender Always Need To

An Event Bartender Always Need To Be Prepared!

And not just prepared… but prepared for anything! Showing up looking prim, proper and professional to an event is the best way to establish yourself as someone who is serious and takes themselves with pride. Looking the part is a huge thing and being able to interact with everyone, smile, laugh and enjoy yourself is a great way to land that next job. Talk to people as you serve them, drink knowledge is key and recommendations is a great way to impress. Always do your best to impress, because you want to make new contacts and you want to be in demand.

A great checklist for yourself is: Show up with your own equipment, go out and buy all the tools you need to deliver a great product. Business cards, have them sitting out in a holder on the table or surface you are Bartending on. Also, go the extra mile, offer to help serve food if you have a minute, help clear dishes and help with clean up if need be. Good event bartenders look the part, work the part and go the extra mile. These are the kind of staff a host requires to ensure their party is a huge success.

Be Flexible!

Make yourself available for people! Once you hand out cards and meet new people, the networking will snowball for you. If you say no, you will be replaced and forgotten just as quickly. Once you have established yourself in a group as a reliable mixer of cocktails, stick with them and be their go to bartender. Keep in mind a lot of guests at private parties have different jobs, it could lead to other business ventures as well, you never know, so mingle!

Private Event Bartending is a great way to come out of your shell and interact with a great group of people who just want to enjoy themselves, usually in a smaller more intimate setting. Set that tone for them, smile, laugh with them and offer your services going forward. Private bartending is really luck of the draw most of the time, but the people you meet will make a lasting impression on your life. Get out there and promote yourself!

We offer a Commercial Bartending Course 5 times a month. Check out all our available courses at Fine Art Bartending and Register Today. Add some extra cash to your wallet, and stories to last a lifetime, as an event bartender!

Get Crafty as a Cocktail Bartender

Seeking a career as a Craft Cocktail Bartender?

Do you enjoy fresh fruits, flowers, other exotic ingredients? Are you detail oriented and picky about the perfectness of every aspect of your drink? Craft cocktails might just be your calling! Ever wonder how they come up with certain fruits and garnishes for those fancy drinks at that new hipster bar down the street? It comes down to understanding and studying not only recipes, but what garnish will compliment and complete the beverage. Nowadays customers are expecting so much more. The crafty bartender is not expected to just serve a rum and coke with a lime anymore, going the extra mile creatively is necessary. The Craft Cocktail Bartender is more in demand now than ever before and restaurants both big and small target mixology experts to join their staff.

craft cocktail bartender

An Expert Bartender is also a Bar Chef

Bar Chef, or bartending chef, is a term that has really come into its own, it’s a bartender who takes those classic drinks and takes them up to the next level, using fresh fruits or flowers etc. A big part of Craft Cocktails is understanding what fruit is in season, how it will compliment the overall taste of the drink, even down to colores and smells. A lot of Bartenders are now working with Chefs at high end lounges and hotels, to craft the perfect combination for the guest.

If you have OCD and love attention to detail, you will be perfectly suited as a Craft Cocktail Bartender. Time and effort are key is this line of work, something you might not experience somewhere super busy. Craft Cocktailists appreciate the drink and the fresh ingredients, the methods and the finishing touches. This business, regardless if you’re in a restaurant, nightclub or hotel, the end game should be the same: IMPRESS the guest.

A Great Mixologist Knows Their Customer

When you work in a hotel or high end cocktail lounge, you have way more time to interact with your guests. Meaning you can really get a feel for who they are and what they like, which is very important when selecting cocktails for them. You may get lucky and have that adventurous person who will be your ginny pig so to speak, try anything you throw at them. This is a great way to find out if you have the magic touch and they are putting their trust in your capable hands. Don’t be intimidated by people in a hotel or martini lounge, they are there to be wowed and to enjoy themselves, work with them and make sure they return!

Having knowledge of your spirits and liqueurs is huge in craft cocktailing, what goes with what and what is in season for people to drink. Usually guests like lighter spirits in the Spring/Summer and heavier, more spicy spirits in the Fall/Winter to warm them up. Have some fun with holidays and seasons, lots of different colours and tastes. Remember everyones palate is different so don’t go off the deep end with spices and bitters, but don’t be afraid to play and experiment. Guests will appreciate someone who knows their stuff but isn’t afraid to experiment.

Learn Some Bartending History

Study the classic cocktails of the world. Essential classic drinks include the Old Fashioned, Negroni, Classic Martini, Cosmopolitan, Whiskey Sour, Sazeracs to name a few. If you have a handle on the classics and what makes them classic, then the possibilities are endless to throw your own spin on them. Study fruit and seasons, how to cut them and store them, look into bitters and edible flowers. If all these components get you excited, it will show in your work and the end result will be extremely satisfying for you and the person sitting at your bar!

We at Fine Art Bartending can put you through the paces and teach the essentials in mixing up a drink. Experience comes with time and passion, and after a couple of weeks of introducing you to proper bartender practices behind the bar, you will be ready to pursue your new hobby or career. What you decide to make for cocktails is completely up to you. Register today for our Commercial Bartending Course and we can arm you with a rudimentry knowledge to start crafting cocktails in as little as two weeks!

Start Late as a Nightclub Bartender

Becoming a Nightclub Bartender

So you wanna be a Nightclub Bartender….   Do you enjoy big crowds, loud music, perform well under pressure and good at handling money?  Then the Nightclub business is definitely for you!  Bartenders are required to have an extensive knowledge of highballs, cocktails, shooters and even beer. The business can be demanding! The hours run late and long. You need to keep up with the fast pace environment, while maintaining a level head in case something goes awry.

Nightclub Bartender pouring green shots

Bartender Training is Essential

Nightclubs always have trouble hiring Bartenders who haven’t been trained properly. Hands on experience and extensive training help immensely! Many bartenders are just there for the money. Some were just in the right place at the right time, thrown into the deep end, and now have to learn on the job.  Bartenders who excel in the Nightlife are the those who care! Of course being trained correctly, having hands on experience and demonstrating a little flair also help. If you are someone who can work with a smile on their face while interacting with your patrons, then success will find you very quickly.  When the same customers start lining up at your bar over and over, you know you are doing something right and have made an impression. Keep it up!

Having a good memory is another key element to what makes a great Nightclub Bartender.  Much like driving ‘stick;’ if you can Bartend in a Nightclub, you can Bartend anywhere!  In restaurants and bars you have a set cocktail list to memorize, in a Nightclub you must be prepared for any kind of drink.  A Bartender who can remember each customer’s drink order, and whip those drinks up in a timely fashion… all with a smile on his or her face… has won the customers respect and maybe even a gratuity.

Make some MONEY

FAST MONEY is a big component of the Nightclub world. There are a lot of ‘dollar bills’ flying around on any given night. You have to know your register and Point of Sale system.  You also need to be quick at math and how to make proper change back in a way that maximizes your tips. Unfortunately there is a lot of theft in the Nightclub business, don’t be that Guy or Girl!  Tips are “To Insure Prompt Service”  meaning your work ethic and attitude will be rewarded accordingly. Don’t be mad if a customer doesn’t tip, there is always the next customer to wow!

Finally,  if you are well known, have a lot of friends or are a University student, then you have an extra in with Nightclubs. Businesses are looking for well rounded, likeable, charismatic individuals to help make their club stand out! To managers and owners, it’s all about getting bodies in the door and keeping them there. Don’t be afraid to stand out and make your presence known in the Nightclub industry. Managers love well trained big personalities behind the bar. Being well mannered, able to manage their time and keep up with the flow of the night also helps.

Nightclub Bartending is truly a once in a lifetime experience, go out and get it! Register today and we at Fine Art Bartending can get you trained up as a bartender with our TWO Week Commercial Bartending Course, teaching you all the ins and outs needed to succeed in the bartending industry.

Become a Restaurant Bartender

How to become a Fine Dining Restaurant Bartender

Love Food, Drinks, People and Customer Service? Vancouver definitely has the appetite for great service which also means the restaurant and bar industry is just waiting for you! Most prospective bartenders like to set their sights high right out the gate. They want to be that all star, flashy bartender immediately! Unfortunately, sometimes that just isn’t reality. Don’t fret however, working as a food runner, bussing or serving at a restaurant first is probably the BEST thing you can do for yourself.

restaurant bartender

Learning the foundations of what it means to work as a TEAM is essential to working in any kind of hospitality environment. If you know how to deliver food, take orders, work with the kitchen and your management all in tandem, then it will make you a better bartender in the long run. If your kitchen isn’t working with your expediters, who in turn aren’t working with the servers, who then don’t work with the bartenders, the system breaks down quickly and guests will see this.

Keys to the Craft

To become a great restaurant bartender you must learn the menu backwards and forwards, be sensitive to allergies and children if need be. Knowing the drink menu is imperative, the guest has a list in front of them, you better be able to speak to it with passion. Every drink requires the same amount of love and effort, so learn those recipes! Being able to stand at the Bar crafting drinks, while serving your guests at the Bar “The Wood,” whilst running food makes for an excellent Bartender.

Knowing how to deliver food and serve properly is a big skill to have, just because you are behind the bar doesn’t mean you don’t have to serve as well… Bartenders are food runners, bussers and servers in the Restaurant world. Be Prepared to be a jack of all trades so to speak, all of these elements will be asked of you. If you are uncomfortable in any aspect of these traits, then learn them and excel.

Learn to Upsell

ADD ON’s are a big thing in restaurants. Up Selling customers on a few extras not only improves the guests enjoyment, it raises the bottom line. Your tips will more than likely reflect this too. ‘Adding on’ means to add something to the original order to help boost sales. For example, when someone orders a main dish, suggest that they might be interested in an appetizer to tide them over. Add a piece of cake after dinner and a specialty coffee drink to wash it all down. Servers aren’t the only ones with this task, Bartenders have customers sitting at the bar, interest them in a double highball or bump them up to a premium brand of liquor, maybe even a shot. Do what you can to increase revenue, your boss and your wallet will thank you.

Being a restaurant bartender can be very demanding. As with any job, to be excellent takes a lot of work and effort, however it is a very rewarding experience. Anyone looking to start off the right way and get trained in all aspects of the craft need some proper instruction. At Fine Art Bartending we can point you in the right direction to land that Restaurant/Bar job, meaning you’ll never go home starving!

Check out all our upcoming classes and register today for our Commercial Bartending Course. Our instructors have been in the industry for years and have hired numerous bartenders and servers. Learn from the Best Bartending School in Vancouver!

All Hail The Caesar, Canada’s National Cocktail

ultimate-caesar-garnishInvented in Calgary in 1969, the Caesar is Canada’s most popular cocktail, with 350 million Caesars consumed annually. It’s our favorite brunch cocktail, a reliable hangover cure, a preferred aperitif, a standby nightcap and an almost-guilt-free meal replacement.

It typically contains vodka, Clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime.

alberta_caesarBasic preparation of a Caesar follows the “one, two, three, four” rule. The recipe calls for 1–1½ oz of vodka, two dashes of Tabasco sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper, four dashes of Worcestershire sauce and topped with 4–6 oz of Clamato and served over ice. The ingredients are poured into a glass rimmed with celery salt or a mixture of salt and pepper and garnished with a celery stalk and lime.

Every restaurant & bar these days seems to have their own take on the Caesar, hoping to distinguish themselves from the bar down the street, and keep you coming back for their own special version.

caesarcontest-6At Fine Art Bartending School, we teach our students theclassic recipe, & the classic garnish,celery stick & a lime wedge. But we are sure to mention, wherever you go & get a bartending job, that restaurant or bar will have its own house version of the Caesar you will have to learn.

Ingredient Variations we have personally seen in the last few months at local bars:

Fresh grated Horseradish, creamy Horseradish from a jar, Franks Red Hot instead of Tabasco, Cayenne pepper. On the rim, switch the celery salt rim for a fresh cracked salt & pepper rim or even Tim Horton coffee grounds.

13558Vodka can be infused with Pepper, Bacon, Maple Syrup or Citrus. Or, switch the vodka for Gin, Tequila, or various types of Whiskey, including a combo in North Vancouver we saw on a brunch menu with Jack Daniels & bbq sauce.

For garnish, every place you go these days seems to have their own take on the Caesar garnish. We have seen Spicy Beans, Bacon, Prawns, Pickles, Smoked Salmon, pickled garlic scapes, pickled Asparagus, and dozens of other combinations

Love it or hate it, the Caesar Is definitely Canada’s national cocktail, and will continue to be pulled apart and put back together by talented bartenders for at least another 40 years.


Exploring The Hopscotch Festival


The 2012 Hopscotch Festival, now in it’s 16th year, in a new location and is being hosted at the PNE. What does that mean for you? More exhibitors, more products, more whiskies, and more people. There will be over 65 booths and more than 250 products to taste. And if you think due to the name this is just a Scotch and Whisky event, think again as their will be copious amounts of premium beer and spirits including Vodkas, Rums, Tequilas, and Gins.

photo-12-224x300Tickets are $50, including five drink tokens and a transit ticket home.

With more than 100 exhibitors pouring more than 250 different kinds of whisky, beer, tequila, vodka, gin and rum from around the world – and from right here in B.C. – the Grand Tasting Hall is an extraordinary liquid feast (and there’s food on hand, too, thankfully).

In recent years the festival has grown beyond this array of alcoholic abundance, with pairing dinners and educational seminars running all this week – almost all of them sold out well in advance.

At the event tasting tokens are the only form of currency taken. The first five tokens for your Grand Tasting Experience are included with your purchased ticket. Additional tokens can be purchased for $1.00 at the Tasting Token booths. The price of each sample in the Grand Tasting Hall is based on the retail value of the bottle being poured.

The event is now increasingly drawing recognition around the world, with distillers from Scotland and brewers from as far afield as Australia taking time out to fly over and meet and educate their consumers in what is their life’s passion.

Education has always been a cornerstone of Hopscotch – whisky tasting seminars are usually the first events of the festival to sell out

Hopscotch 2012 is over, but bookmark and do not miss 2013. We cant think of a better way to educate yourself in the world of spirits that to attend this premier event.


Cocktail Recipe: A Martini For Movember from Fine Art Bartending School

This recipe is in honour of all the guys who are becoming less attractive as each day in Movember ticks by. We honour your sacrifice for charity with:


The Moustache Ride Martini


1.5 oz Van Gogh Espresso Flavoured Vodka

.5 oz Butterripple Schnapps

1 oz cream

Chocolate sprinkle rim

Shake & Strain into a chilled martini glass


Support your local moustache grower, its for a good cause

From The Bartenders at Fine Art Bartending School

3 Spooky Halloween Cocktails

Vampire2Vampire’s Bite
1oz Effen Vodka
3oz Lemonade

1oz Soda
Build in a tall glass filled with ice
Top with a cap full of Pomegranate Juice
Ghoul’s Delight
1oz Black Grouse Scotch Whisky
0.5oz BOLS Blue Curacao Liqueur
3oz Orange Juice
Combined ingredients in a shaker tin with ice, shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice
Garnish with gummi worms

desktopPumpkin Pie Martini
1oz Black Grouse Scotch Whisky
4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Filling
1oz Apple Juice
0.5oz Half & Half Cream
0.25oz Maple Syrup
2 Dashes Cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a shaker tin with ice, shake vigorously for 15 seconds and strain into a Martini Glass
Garnish with grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick


From The Bartenders at Fine Art Bartending School

Working Flair Vs. Competition Flair Bartending

Whats Competition Flair?

tomdyer1Competition flair consists of highly choreographed show stopping routines. A great competition flair performance requires a ton of preparation. The routine is rehearsed countless times in the backyard. People came to see a flair competition, so it better be practiced & polished! Bottles are numbered, taped, and filled with the smallest amounts possible to make your designated 3 drinks, or whatever that competition requires. In flair competitions, you are really not interacting with individuals in the audience, but the audience as a whole. After an amazing sequence, you pause & look up, people applaud, but the interaction is much different than it would be with 3 or 4 customers you are serving at your bar. You also have a lot of freedom when you are on stage doing a competition. Freedom to take 3 minutes to make 1 drink. Freedom to shut out the audience and focus if you choose. Even freedom to spill a little. Your not really supposed to spill, even in competition, but it happens, a lot, and in competition, its overlooked, no big deal. Competitors compete for cash prizes, bragging rights, clips to put on youtube & hopefully leverage into a better bartending job, making bigger money. The foundation for being a great competitive bartender is to master the art of working flair.

Check out the video at the bottom of this page for one of the best competition style routines we have ever seen, Alexander, from Russia on Ukraine’s Got Talent.

Whats Working Flair?

flairbartendergraham4A great working flair bartender is mixing basic tricks in evenly throughout the night, not slowing down to make a drink & interacting with the customer. Customers aren’t usually expecting flair moves, so it doesn’t take a lot to impress. A quick toss of the glass behind your back, and then end with tossing the lime up from behind your back & catch in the drink wont slow you down, and will be enough to have people walking away thinking; what a great bartender, I’m going to make sure to go back to him later on for sure. When customers are impressed & happy, tips usually go up, which makes the bartender happy. Working Flair wouldn’t get you very far on Americas Got Talent. Working flair is all about interaction with that guest, in that moment. Mixing tricks in throughout the night, so your always entertaining to watch.


flairWhen you are doing working flair, people are always watching. Customers who might not havecome up to the bar at all make their way over to check out whats happening, and your tips and sales go up. Maybe a manager from a different bar watches you from across the room, observes how you make the guests happy, and your station is busier than most throughout the night, and all of a sudden you have a job offer at a better bar across town. Your manager is also watching, even when you don’t realize it. If you are mixing in too many tricks, slowing down too much, and the line-up is building, he might feel your flair is costing the bar sales, and tell you to stop. If your spilling alcohol while your flipping at work, your managers going to ask you to stop, if you do it again, he might ban you from doing flair entirely. If this happens, all the hard work you put into practicing, all the extra money you could have made in tips, all the opportunities that could have come when your being exceptional & standing out from the crowd – gone. So be aware of how long people are waiting for drinks, and reduce, or increase the number of tricks you are mixing in to keep the line moving & sales up. And never do a trick you cant pull off without spilling. Alcohol spillage is never acceptable.

At our 1 day flair seminars, we focus on working flair, and helping you build a good foundation of basic moves you can use to increase your tips right away. If you become passionate about flair, and want to go on to compete, you will be starting with a great foundation of basics to add bigger and better skills on top of. Working flair is the foundation to competition flair.