Bar Management| Bartending| Front of House| Industry & Culture

The 6 Most Common (and Preventable) Rookie Bartender Mistakes

By Loren Bornstein

Make your and your fellow team members’ lives easier by avoiding these typical flubs…

Whether it was “shaking” with a plastic tumbler attached to a small rocks glass or using a pint glass to scoop ice, my bartender beginning is rife with fails and lessons learned. To keep you from learning the hard way, here are the six most common rookie bartender mistakes that need to be stopped before they ever start:

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Bar Upkeep

1. Keep it clean, you filthy animal

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and one of the biggest issues I run into with nearly all rookie bartenders is our ability to keep things clean. Some examples of things not to do:

  • Leaving your dirty shaker on the bar top and schmoozing with the guests instead of cleaning it and putting it away. You should be cleaning them right after you use them.
  • Leaving dirty rags out for a guest to see. You might not think they notice, but they do.
  • Not having a fresh sanitizer bucket for a shift. Cleaning your bar with a rag and water is about as useful as rinsing your hands with water.

2. Stay organized

This is one of the rough spots that every bartender, no matter how experienced, has gone through. Placing your bottle in the right spot in your well, resetting your mise en place, taking the time to cut bar fruit, and setting up your bar top before the start of a shift pays dividends to you and the rest of your bar team. You’ll be a faster bartender and you won’t be one who misplaces items every time.

Bartending Technique

3. Glass, meet ice

This is incredibly important, so say it with me, “I will not use a glass to scoop ice.” That moment glass hits your ice well, even if you don’t see a fracture, some of that glass will sliver into your ice. You will be serving your guests ice with pieces of glass in it. Even worse, if the glass happens to break into the ice, you’ll have to spend the needless time to burn (melt) the ice and find every piece of glass in the well. You’ll have no one else to blame but yourself on a busy Saturday night.

4. The claw

Whenever I see servers, bartenders, managers, or anyone picking up dirty glasses from the top and touching the inside of the glass with their fingers, it makes my skin crawl. Not only is it completely unsanitary, it also looks bad to your guests. Do your guests a favor and use a tray or at least start carrying it from the bottom.

5. Your beer glass runneth over, sir

Another common mistake is pouring a beer incorrectly. In case you need a refresher, the key thing to note is that draft faucet should never touch the inside of the glass.

Team Attitude

6. Check your ego at the door

This last mistake is a common one for even the most experienced bartender. No matter how long you’ve worked in the industry, when you join a new bar team, you are a rookie. You need to learn that establishment’s system and your new team members’ tendencies. Even if you notice things that the team could be doing better, coming in with an attitude is a quick way to earn yourself an exit. Be respectful with your feedback and be open to learning.

Are there other common rookie mistakes you see that we haven’t covered here? Let us know in the comments and let’s grow together.

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