The Art of Bartending

The art of bartending has long been overlooked in the event world. Any bartender worth his or her salt can make a great drink. To start things off, they should be expected to be honorable, ethical, professional and courteous. These are a given. I hope that they are also people from whom you’d accept a friend request on Facebook.

Unfortunately, the field has gone a little lame in continued education. In my observation, once some people figure out how to make the drinks on the menu at their establishment, along with a few other clever shots and pours, they stop learning.

They do not continue to perfect their craft by learning about things such as wine pairing, mixology, safe serving standards, safe food standards, public speaking, suggestive selling (not aimed at making more money, but at helping the customers’ experience), and customer service.

Often, the guy or gal behind the bar was hired long ago and certainly can make a great Tom Collins and martini, but some would say the cocktail world has taken a change for the better. New skills and tricks have become the norm in bars and restaurants, and will continue to do so.

The same way that celebrity chefs have taken America by storm with their unique food trends, bartending mixologists have started popping up more and more. Next time you’re at your favorite bar or restaurant (and even at chains), you will see a host of specialty cocktails–some a little more special than others.

Some of the unique trends include liquors with a lot of sophistication. Fresh herbs are a popular trend, and infused alcohols are also very popular. These drinks will certainly trickle down to corporate events, weddings, and private home events sooner rather than later.

Most weddings are now seeing a specialty drink for the bride and groom–this is the most likely place to start upgrading the bartending services. With fresh, local, organic herbs at their disposal, a mixologist can enhance even the most traditional drinks.

Another trend sees items frozen into ice cubes. These hybrid ice cubes are great for presentation. They not only offer a piece of fruit waiting inside of its frozen cocoon to be devoured, but often the ice cube is made with a simple syrup, fresh herbs, or other concoction that adds to the flavors and smell of a unique drink. Dry ice can help the “evil scientist” bartender create some wonderful beverage twists as well.

Bartenders are the life of any restaurant and or bar. Why aren’t they being sought for their personality behind the bar at your wedding? I haven’t ever met someone who didn’t have something to offer, and that is certainly true in the bartending world. Professional bartenders have long been sought to fill sales roles.

They have many things to keep track of, including the regulars, new customers, conversations, food going in and out, drink orders from servers, and, of course, changing the channel when the ball game is on.

For this reason, a bartender is typically someone with a head on a swivel. Identifying bartenders who are engaging and charismatic offers an added touch for your next wedding, party, corporate event or fundraiser.

I define flair bartending as bartenders who perform tricks. They can pour drinks into stacked glasses from one or two feet above the drinks. They may flip and catch bottles and service tins in creative patterns (think Tom Cruise in the movie “Cocktail”).

They may even light stacked glasses on fire. Flair bartenders are highly skilled professionals who take the time to learn how to catch glassware, tins, bottles and other items behind their heads, stacking martini glasses on their foreheads and pouring drinks into the very glasses they are balancing. They can make a huge impact on the ambiance for any party or bar.

Bartending is a craft. Like many of the bartenders out there, I originally saw bartending as a way to get through college. I realized somewhere before my time was up in school that it was, in fact, a lifestyle. Bartending is a career, a passion, and a wonderful way to meet people.