Top Tips for Building a Career in the Bar Industry
Opportunities for career development in the bar industry are greater today than they have ever been - both for bar managers and bartenders.
We’ve rounded up top tips from six industry experts to help you excel in your current role, whether that be managing a bar team or making drinks as part of one, and upskill to that next level.
Top Tips for Bar Managers
Communication is key
Anna Sebastian has managed the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy Hotel and the Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel, London. Her top tip for being a great bar manager is communication. If you don’t communicate well with your team, no one will know what’s going on. This is especially important in times of major change or crisis.
This level of communication is beneficial not just for your team but for your guest experience as well, as it helps to elevate your level of service. Make sure your shift handovers are as detailed as possible and host regular staff meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
What motivates your team?
Your team will always be your biggest asset. Ensuring you have the right people around you will set you and your bar up for success, so it’s important to invest in them. Australian Bar Manager of the Year, Ewan Stroeve’s top tip is to identify your staff members’ individual passions and help to develop them.
For example, he says, “Every staff member has a different story, attitude, and ambitions. They are motivated and driven by different things and approaches. I’ve got staff who love photography, so they look after our socials. Staff who are mad about wine, so they help curate our lists.” Investing in your staff creates trust, and treating them well will help with staff retention.
WHAT KIND OF LEADER ARE YOU?
You can’t lead others until you can lead yourself. Different personalities lead differently, and while your leadership style might work for you, it may not work for everyone else on your team. One of the best things you can do as a manager is to look at your own leadership traits, so you can be aware of the impact you have on the people around you.
A good leader is a really well-rounded leader, so it’s important to identify where your skills might need to be developed. To learn more about leadership styles, make sure to watch our masterclass AN EXPERT GUIDE TO LEADING WELL. JJ Goodman, founder of the London Cocktail Club, and Madeleine Geach, Leadership Coach at The Good Life Coaching, dive into this topic and much more in this webinar.
Top Tips for Bartenders
Be passionate about what you do
We asked managers of some of the World’s 50 Best Bars to reveal exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to hiring new team members. They all agreed on one thing: they look for a genuine passion for the industry.
James Wheeler from Dandelyan said, “I look for people who can bring something special to the team and the bar. They must be engaging, switched on and efficient, with heaps of passion and drive. Be humble, enthusiastic and willing to learn.”
Vijay Mudaliar from Native said, “My approach to hiring staff is a little unconventional – I prefer to start from scratch and hire those without any experience, as long as they are willing and eager to learn with lots of passion and drive to succeed.”
Jesse Vida from Atlas said, “I look for someone with a great attitude who is humble and motivated to learn, with a constant desire to improve and take advantage of educational opportunities.”
Whether you’re looking for your first bartending job, or you’re trying to get promoted in your current role, showing your commitment to learning and staying curious about the industry will show managers that you’re passionate about what you do.
Compete and network
Entering a bartending competition like World Class gives you the opportunity to evolve your knowledge, practice your skills and network with some of the top people in the industry. Previous Tanqueray Brand Ambassador, Tim Homewood, believes that “For the ambitious bartender, this is hands down the best way to progress your career. You put yourself out there in front of people, the press, other bars and brands - all potential avenues for future work and progression.”
Thomas Aske, London Spirits Competition Judge, said, “Deciding to enter a cocktail competition was one of the most important factors defining my career. It provided a networking opportunity to meet brand representatives and peers. They gave me the exposure needed to take the next step in my career to a role as a brand ambassador.”
Build your personal brand
As an established hospitality professional, one of your biggest opportunities for growth is to start building your public profile and media presence. Working on your personal brand is a way of reinforcing who you are and what you do. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram can help propel you into the spotlight and get your name out there.
Paul Martin, award-winning mixologist and prolific hospitality trainer, says that “By developing a strong following, you become incredibly attractive to potential employers (they all want to be able to feature a ‘celebrity’ mixologist) or to potential backers if you are looking to open your own bar.”
Social media also provides a great opportunity to network with some of the biggest names in the industry, all from the comfort of your own home. So put yourself out there, as you never know what opportunities it could lead to.
Finally, Paul says, “Remember, if you have the drive to succeed and the passion to enjoy the ride, then the only thing that can prevent you from achieving your potential is yourself. Best of luck!”
- While the above tips are broken down by role, they’re very much transferable skills that will help you build your career and develop your skills.
- Good communication should be at the heart of everything you do.
- Investing in both yourself and your team is one of the best things you can do for your career. Keep learning!
- Never forget the reasons you want to work in the industry, so you can keep that passion burning. People will notice.
- Networking and exposure can open up a whole world of opportunities that you can’t plan for. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.