6 things you should never do as a bartender

By Toronto Bar School, 09/16/2023

Bartending can be a great money making side gig and a whole lot of fun. That doesn’t mean there aren’t rules to follow the way.

If you’ve ever had to wait at the end of the bar to catch the bartender’s attention, you’ll know how frustrating that can be. 

That bartender was doing one of the things you should never do as a bartender – ignore your customers. 

Other things you should avoid are over-pouring, using the wrong glass, not knowing your bar set up, not measuring your ingredients and moving too fast for your skill level. We’ll go over all of these shortly. 

First, I should point out that nobody’s perfect. You’re going to make a few mistakes along the way in the hospitality industry. 

The key to success as an expert mixologist is being able to recognize those mistakes, learn from them and keep improving. 

At Toronto Bar School we’ll teach you everything you need to begin making tons of money from a side hustle as a bartender.

You’ll gain access to exclusive events, meet influential people and you’ll be making money instead of spending money on a Saturday night. 

If you’re willing to grind, you’re reliable and you’re a fast learner we can get you to where you want to be. 

Let’s start with the 6 things you should never do as a bartender. Learn these and you’ll be one step closer to your goal of making great money from a side hustle as a bartender.

never move too fast for your skill level

It’s tempting to mix drinks at breakneck speed at your first major bartending gig. After all, the faster you pump those drinks out the more tips you can make right?

This may sound like a reasonable approach, but it’s not. 

Moving too fast can show a lack of professionalism. You’re going to make mistakes and that may end up frustrating your patrons more, resulting in fewer tips, not bigger ones. 

Mixology is a craft. You have to hone your skills over time. 

Concentrate on mixing the perfect drink first – even it it takes you a little longer. 

You might not be able to serve as many people as you’d like at those first couple of freelance bartending gigs, but the drinks you make will be memorable.

That means bigger tips, even if there are fewer of them. 

Wouldn’t you rather have a reputation of making great drinks rather than mediocre fast, ones?

That’s no brainer. 

Don’t worry, you’ll get faster and you’ll get all the practice you need in our training course. For now, concentrate on wowing patrons with cocktails that taste amazing. 

never neglect or ignore customer

Let’s jump back to that example we used at the beginning. Remember being that lonely person at the end of the bar trying desperately to get the bartender’s attention? 

Ignoring your customers, even if it isn’t intentional, is not good customer service. You should never neglect your customers. 

One of the number one rules of the service industry is helping each patron as quickly as possible – even if you’re working in a busy and loud environment. 

It only takes half a second to acknowledge you know a customer is waiting. Even if it’s just a quick hand gesture.

Put yourself in their shows.

Would you be happy knowing from that little hand gesture that the bartender’s busy, but sees you and will get your order as soon as possible? Or would you want to sit there wondering if you’re ever going to get that next drink? 

The answer’s obvious – we all want to know we’ve been seen. 

Don’t play favorites either. Concentrate on being aware of your surroundings at all times and serve customers in the order that they arrived at the bar. 

Never work with a bad bar setup

Have you ever watched a disorganized bartender work?

If there’s a lineup at the bar and the event isn’t that busy, there’s good chance you’re waiting for a rookie bartender or one that isn’t very good at their craft.

They might be constantly forgetting where they put their shaker or jigger. Or perhaps they can’t find the right glass. As a bartender, you should always have a good understanding of your setup. 

If you’re working in an unfamiliar place, show up half an hour early and figure out where everything is you’re going to need. 

Having ice when you need it, a full keg on tap and a healthy supply of the most popular drinks can mean much better tips and happier customers. 

You’ll be more comfortable knowing everything you need is in place and your customers will be happy because you won’t be telling them you’re out of ice for the cocktail. 

never over-pour drinks

You might think that over pouring a cocktail will win you points with your bar patrons, but you’re probably wrong.

Most people have a certain expectation of what a drink tastes like and adding too much of a certain type of alcohol can result in a taste that’s very different from what they expect. 

As a mixologist, your goal is to mix a drink with the perfect mix of ingredients. It’s not to gain a reputation as the bartender that always packs drinks with more punch.

Constantly adding too much alcohol in every drink can also result in fewer profits on the night. Studies have shown that as much as 20% of profits are lost to over pouring.

Resist the temptation to over-pour and you’ll be better off in the long run.

never use the wrong glass for a drink

If you’re going to make great money in your side hustle as a mixologist, you need to be professional about everything that you do. That includes using the right glasses for the right drinks.

Pouring beer in a shot glass may seem like an extreme example, but it serves to illustrate a point. 

Using the wrong drink glass can result in a poor experience for the guests at an event and fewer bills in your tip jar. 

Understanding which glass goes with each drink is an important skill for every bartender. 

never be tempted to eyeball ingredients - atleast as a rookie

You probably shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV or the big screen and that includes when you see a bartender mixing the perfect drink using only their keen eye for detail. 

In reality, great mixologists have all the right tools for the job.

They use a jigger to measure each cocktail ingredient and a measured shot glass to make sure that a basic rum and coke has the right amount of rum. 

Don’t be tempted to eyeball your ingredients. Using the right tools for the job makes you look more professional and ensures you’re not over-pouring. 

It also ensures that you get your flavor pairings just right. Making sure you have the right mix of ingredients is the easiest way to make the perfect cocktail every time.

Some final things you should never do as a bartender

There are countless things you should never do as a bartender and this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s a great starting point, but there are lots of other things to keep in mind such as: 

  • Not checking ID
  • Drinking too much on the job
  • Favoring some customers over others
  • Confronting bad tippers
The list goes on and on. If you want to be sure you don’t develop bad habits and many more you need the right training
It’s one thing to say you shouldn’t ignore customers, work too fast, have a bad bar setup, over-pour drinks, forget to measure ingredients or use the wrong glass.
The trick is making sure these bad habits are always in the back of your mind to avoid.
Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to learn what you should be doing to earn extra cash bartending on the side. 
We can teach you how to become an expert mixologist that always goes home at the end of the night with a full tip jar. 
It takes hard work and dedication, but the opportunity’s there for the right people. 
At Toronto Bar School you’ll learn a series of effective techniques to avoid all of the pitfalls discussed above at real world events – not in the classroom. 

Made Up Your Mind?

While personally, I love bartending, I recognize that it’s not for everyone. If you’ve decided that you’re ready for the challenge, why not begin your bartending training at Toronto Bar School?