Practicing to Become a Professional Bartender In Just Two Steps (Part Two)

This is the second post in a series about how to Study for Bartending School. you can read the first one here.

What Does it Mean To Master Fluency?

Many students and working bartenders have been frustrated because they’ve memorized everything, but then somehow or another lose their their sense of confidence when they have to look for a bottle, or if something happens in the bar and they lose their cool, they lose control of the situation and no longer operate at a high level.

The reason why? They have a great rhythm when everything in is ok, but they don’t practice working in uncomfortable situations.

My experience? People perform better and learn quicker when their practice is structured and focused on results.  We structure learning in two steps: first we make sure our students are aware of the content they need to memorize, then we stress them on the knowledge with speed. The combination of the two creates great bartenders who know how to operate under pressure!

The Two Step System: Memorize then Act

Step 1

Relax and focus on memorizing a group of recipes. Stick to a small number. Say 20 drinks and use word clues to get them down squared away in your mind. Once you have them, practice until you know each of those drinks in the back of your head.

Step 2

Once you have a group of drinks memorized, it’s time to train those drinks and only those drinks. USE A TIMER and always try to improve. You’ll want to make a few lists of different drinks. Then try to finish that list as fast as you can.

The important part here, is that the timer is used to create a stressful situation while you are in a simulated environment.

By just following these two steps you’ll be able to make drinks under pressure. However, you’ll still need to worry about techniques. In part three we’ll talk about building good habits.

Aqua Vitae Institute’s Bartending Program speed test has 12 drinks in 8 minutes. But it’s not unheard of for a graduate to get over 18 drinks in that time. Please note, that some drinks (tall drinks and tiki drinks) take a lot longer to make than other drinks (highballs). The speed test has a balance of the two!

In the next post, I will talk about some advanced techniques to focus on getting even faster, and more confident and comfortable behind the bar.