How to Train Your Bartending Staff for Success

It may surprise you to learn that 63% of American adults consider themselves alcohol drinkers. If you work in the service industry, you have to prepare yourself and your employees so they know how to properly serve alcoholic beverages. This includes carding patrons and ensuring no one is over-served.

One of the best ways of doing this is with RBS training. This crucial certificate program teaches you how to train a bartender. 

This helpful guide walks you through the best way to onboard new bartenders and how you can create the ideal training program. 

Hire Quality Bartenders

Before you begin training your bartending staff, you can use hiring platforms or staffing agencies to locate top-tier candidates. Create a list of questions so you can compare all prospective bartenders according to the same list of principles. 

Once you select a group of individuals, have them come in for a trial shift. This can be for a day or a week so you can see how they function on the job and whether they’ll be a good fit for your establishment. If you determine that your candidates make good employees, have them advance to a bartender certification program

Provide a Bartender Training Manual

Now that you have your select group of bartenders, provide them with an in-depth training manual. This helps your staff understand bartender requirements.

It also provides plenty of resources and prospective scenarios for them to navigate. This training manual should also outline policies, procedures, and a code of conduct. 

You may even want to explain the rules of handling cash and general customer service when on the job. 

Discuss Technical Skills

If you’ve promoted someone from a different part of your restaurant, being friendly and a hard worker might not be enough for them to thrive as a bartender. They need the technical skills to navigate the job of a bartender. 

Ensure your new hire is adept at pouring with accuracy, making cocktails, and understanding the different tools necessary for the job. Bartender training programs help to expedite this process. Consider having them shadow a seasoned bartender so they can learn what everything is behind the bar. 

Have a Leader Conduct Training

As you prepare your bartending training program for an RBS certification, it’s best to let a leader conduct the course. This might be a manager or other team member who’s responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations.

This person will work closely with staff and serve as the point person for all questions after bartenders are onboarded. It’s best to let them conduct the training so everyone will be on the same page with expectations. 

Explain Terminology

If you onboard a bartender with minimal experience, you need to explain all bartending terminology. This helps your new hire understand common words and phrases used by the rest of your team.

Understanding terminology can help to alleviate misunderstandings and work to expedite customer service for guests. 

Discuss Overserving 

There is a liability for serving alcohol, and rightfully so. You’re responsible for ensuring someone doesn’t drink and drive. A crucial part of being a bartender is being diligent not to overserve a guest.

One of the best ways to ensure the safety of your guests is by avoiding overserving them. Overserving means proving your guests with alcohol even after they’re intoxicated.

There are ways you can prevent overserving. This includes understanding the signs of intoxication. 

Signs of Intoxication

Intoxication can have physical and emotional signs. Train your bartending staff to look for the following signs of intoxication in guests:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Overtly animated 
  • Slumped over at the bar or table
  • Glassy eyes
  • Walking slowly or stumbling/swaying
  • Sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Angry and/or argumentative
  • Messy clothing

Once you understand the signs of intoxication, you can work to cut off guests who’ve had enough to drink.

How to Prevent Overserving 

Teach your bartending staff to avoid overserving already intoxicated guests. For starters, serve them water with a drink to help slow the pace of their drinking.

Offer complementary non-alcoholic beverages to deter customers from ordering more alcohol. Be careful not to escalate any aggressive situations and defer to managers when customers get out of hand. 

Understand Products

Your bartending staff has to understand the different categories of drinks along with popular cocktails. If they understand different products they can make their own unique creations as well.

Once they understand basic cocktail recipes they’ll be able to make more challenging or lesser-known cocktails with ease. 

A highly trained bartender should also recognize the different types of beer and wine styles to provide customers with the best experience possible. 

Explain In-House Technology

Incorporating technology is an important part of running a bar. This includes the POS system your bar uses to keep track of sales and accept different payments. 

Technology plays an important role in running any bar so you’ll need to go through the different systems you use with your new hires. 

You should start with your POS system, but you may also use specialized inventory or table management software, so train your staff on this as well.

Covering these systems will ensure smooth operations, accurate sales data, and better customer experience. 

Sales Training

Although your bartenders aren’t salespeople, a properly trained employee can help with your overall sales. The best way for your bartender to help sales is by knowing the following:

  • The history and background of drinks
  • What foods pair well with drinks
  • An ability to understand the customer

When you properly train your bartenders, they should be knowledgeable about the items you serve and understand how to be charismatic with customers. 

Inventory and Managing

Are your bartenders overseeing the inventory of your merchandise and, if so, are they managing it? In this instance, you need to properly train them in this department. 

Teach your employees how to count stock, record any spillage, and how to use software to manage this information. You may also need to train your staff how to purchase items, which means they’ll be responsible for contacting suppliers. Your bartenders will also need to know what minimum quantity to order, what items are best sellers, and so forth. 

Focus on Health and Safety

It may come as a surprise that a common garnish is covered in germs. Lemons can contain E. coli and traces of fecal matter.

You need to train your bartending staff on the best practices for health and safety. This keeps them and everyone else safe. 

Lemons aren’t the only area of concern. Your staff needs to understand common health mistakes.

This includes using a glass to scoop ice, inadvertently transferring germs. They should also avoid touching the rim of a glass and ensure only clean towels are used on glasses. 

Your new hires may benefit from a seasoned professional such as a mentor. This person can show them the ropes and teach them how to properly serve drinks while still adhering to health and safety measures. 

Carrying Drinks

The best bartender training program teaches staff the appropriate way to carry drinks. When your staff knows how to transport numerous beverages at once, it can lead to a reduction in workplace accidents. Since 5% of slip and fall accidents lead to broken bones, it’s important your staff understands how to properly carry a drink tray. 

You can even make it into a little competition, adding some fun to your training program. Always incentivize your staff to help make something monotonous more enjoyable. 

Teach the Bar Layout

When your staff knows where items are located, they can tend to patrons quicker, providing them with better customer service. Your bartender training program should include a tutorial on the layout of the bar and where everything is located. 

Your staff needs to know which glasses go with which drinks, so require them to use the two appropriately during training. They also need to learn what beer you stock in your restaurant and which beers go with what glasses. Your staff needs to use the appropriate glasses every time to ensure training sticks.

Don’t Forget About Customer Interaction

As a server or bartender, it is a good practice to appropriately interact with guests. 

Since your bartenders spend a good deal of time interacting with customers, they need to understand how to carry a conversation, appropriately greet someone, and offer excellent customer service. In many ways, they’re the face of your restaurant. 

Teach bartenders never to ignore guests. If they’re busy, they simply need to say, “I’ll be right with you.” Customers often need the reassurance that they’re not being ignored and that their order will be taken shortly.

Your bartending staff should also have several drink recommendations ready to go as soon as a guest approaches the bar. This might be the house special or the bartender’s favorite.

It may also be the restaurant’s best-selling drink. Just be sure that your bartender explains that the drink is also one of their favorites so it doesn’t look like they’re trying to hollowly sell a product.  

Join Groups

When your bartending staff joins local and national groups, they’ll have the opportunity to connect with other bartenders. This helps them grow in their craft. 

An excellent group to join is the United States Bartenders’ Guild. Your staff can look for local groups to network with, attend events, and make new friends in the service industry. 

Offer Financial Literacy Training

You may want to consider offering your bartenders opportunities to do more than tend bar and entertain guests. Consider a financial literary training course for open book management.

You’d share with qualified individuals your restaurant’s books. This allows them to understand how their role at your bar impacts business. 

You’ll simultaneously teach your employees the importance of their role while teaching them transferrable skills they can use in the long term. This might mean a new position elsewhere at your restaurant. 

Implement Quizzes

This doesn’t mean pop quizzes. Give your staff a bit of notice and tell them you’ll be testing their knowledge of the bar. This way, you can gauge who’s retaining information and who’s not. Consider a monthly assessment to see how well your new staff is performing.

You can also ask questions on the spot, but don’t make the questions impossible to answer. These quizzes ensure your bartenders understand California alcohol laws

Food and Drink Pairing

It’s important for bartenders to know what drinks pair well with what dishes. This helps your guests have the best experience possible, especially if your bar is also a restaurant. 

You can offer a class that covers the history of beverages and include a section on ways to pair drinks with food. If you have a seasoned bartender or a sommelier, you can ask them to run weekly or monthly training courses. They can discuss what new items are on the menu and what cocktails, beer, and wine pair best with them.

These classes reinforce to your bartending staff which wines go best with what dishes. Your bartenders will also have more confidence when talking to customers, as their knowledge of drinks will constantly expand. 

How to Train a Bartender

Now that you know how to train a bartender, you can work to retain the best bartending staff possible. Remember to teach your servers about the importance of carding and being mindful not to overserve.

You may also be wondering, “Does a bouncer need to be RBS certified?” A comprehensive training program answers all these questions and more. 

An RBS certification ensures all bartending staff is thoroughly up to date with the latest rules and regulations. RBS Training can help you and your bartending staff serve alcohol appropriately so everyone is in compliance with state laws. Click here to get started.