Course 14

Bartending Service Tips

Customers have stated that service is their #1 priority for an excellent drinking experience. There are two main ways to deliver on this:

  1. Quick, correct execution of cocktails
  2. Providing courteous, engaging interactions

Standard Cocktail Ratio

While it is easy to learn and execute classic cocktails, a bartender should always have signature serves in their repertoire. But, how do you create a balanced drink every time? We have a formula for that:

2 parts spirit

1 part sour ingredients

½ part sweet ingredients


Now that you know how to balance the different ingredients for a winning taste, let’s talk about speed. How do you execute an order so all the drinks arrive to the customers in the right state? We have a formula for that too. It’s simple:

  1. Take the entire order first.
  2. Figure out which drinks take longer to make.
  3. Make the drinks in the order — longest first, shortest last.

Let’s use an order example:

2 Beers, 2 Rum & Cokes, 2 Mojitos

In what order should you prepare the drinks?

Answer: 2 Mojitos, 2 Rum & Cokes, then Beers

The mojitos will take the longest, so you would make those first. You would then make the Rum and Cokes, so that the drinks can be served cold. As the beer simply needs to be opened and served, that would be served last.

Let’s try another example:

2 Vodka and Cranberries, 2 Margaritas, 1 Old Fashioned 

In what order should you prepare the drinks?

Answer: 2 Margaritas, 1 Old Fashioned, then 2 Vodka & Cranberries

The margaritas will take the longest, so you would make those first. You would then make the Old Fashioned, so that the drink can be served chilled. As the Vodka and Cranberries are quick to build, they will be served last.

  • Make sure to take the full order before you start making drinks. 
  • Make all of one type of drink at the same time, i.e. if you have 3 margaritas, make them all at once before moving to the next drink. 
  • Make drinks in order of how long they take to prepare.


Engaging Customers

While customers wait for their order, provide courteous, engaging interactions. Try:

Story-telling. Make the wait interesting by telling stories of the brands, spirits or cocktails while you make drinks. 

Theatre. By perfecting your techniques, knowledge of glasses and drinks, you can fill orders in a theatrical way. 

Listening. Most importantly, listen to what the customer has asked for and execute just that! 

Recommending. If the customer is unsure of what they want, as the expert, you can guide them to the perfect drink by asking what spirit or type of mixers they like. Suggest, then create something they can enjoy. 

Welcoming. If a new customer arrives, pause to welcome them and let them know you will serve them as soon as possible. 

Offering Menus. Having a menu for customers to browse helps prepare them to make their choice once you are free. 

Charming / Disarming. If a customer arrives demanding service before others, stay calm. Explain what you need to do before you can serve them and suggest an activity to do while they wait such as check the menu, watch the game, etc. Reassure other customers that you will serve them as quickly as possible. 

Responsible Serving: Know the Signs

Be observant. People who have had too much to drink can be a danger to others and themselves. It is important to know the signs of intoxication and offer assistance in a polite way. Here are some key signs of intoxication:

  1. Slurred speach
  2. Unsteady on feet
  3. Reacting slowly
  4. Loudness/seeming uncontrollable
  5. Showing lack of good judgement

Alcohol overuse acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and results in all the above.

What’s the appropriate reaction?

  • Stay calm and be polite. Explain to them that you are not able to serve them any other alcoholic drink. 
  • Offer water or something non-alcoholic. 
  • Tell your manager or supervisor that you’ve had to refuse service to this customer.


Don’t Forget

When all customers are served in good time, helped to find their right drink, and served responsibly, you have succeeded in creating excellent drinking experiences. A great drinking experience for your customers usually results in more tips for you!


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