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So you’ve just had a hard evening working behind the sticks and you’re thinking the same thing you always do after a hard weekend shift. If only everyone was up to the job as much as you are yeah. It would save a lot of time and effort on your part and create more time for having fun and living the life of a bartender. Well go grab yourself a whisky, I’m sipping a Laphroig, sit back and learn how to make others be better. Let’s learn How To Train Your Bartender.


Now obviously to be able to do this you are going to need the skills yourself. If you don’t feel up to speed yourself then how can you teach others? If you are unsure then go back to my 20 Commandments and immerse yourself in them every shift and it won’t take you long to move up that ladder and become an expert in your field.


  1. Split ‘em up


The first thing you got to do is split that team up in your mind or on a very carefully hidden piece of paper. Bartenders do not like to know that they are the worst there. But the truth is that we all have varying degrees of skill. We all know the bartender that is brilliant with a customer but as soon as the heat is turned up and we have a wait on to be served they drop like Miley Cyrus. Their smile goes and in turn so does everything else. Then again on the opposite side of the spectrum we have those bartenders who are at home with dozens of drunk patrons all trying to get served at the same time but leave them alone with the couple at the end of the bar on a quiet Tuesday afternoon and they will be so awkwardly lost for words they end up saying something inappropriate and finish up the rest of the shift in the keg room kicking themselves.

So how we going to split them…? Easy, into three groups. Beginners – Average – Best at your bar




Now we can see that most of our bartenders fall into the ‘average’ category. We have four who are classed as the ‘best in our bar’ and three who are beginners and are not as competent as the rest.


Okay so grab a pen and paper and do that for your bar.


  1. The Average Joe’s


Now for a bit of human psychology. The obvious way to train these guys is to focus on those beginners. Well don’t, just don’t. imagine investing all your time into these guys and ending up with nothing but an average bar team with a few still at the top because they have never been challenged, the best when they stay the best become lazy at the top or not challenged enough you will find them moving on to new bars where the grass seems greener for them.

This is what you do. You take the names of all those that fit into the ‘Average’ section and you work out the specific needs for that person. It is important to only train one thing at a time. It can be broad or it can be specific but it needs to be one thing at a time. These small goals will help YOU feel as though you are really starting to make a dent into increasing the knowledge of your team.

But why am I training the Average people?

When you train the average crowd it does three things.

  • It pushes those at the top. When they see people catching up with them they are scared they are going to be caught and they up their overall game. Which in turn creates new aspirations for the rest of the staff.
  • The ‘average’ bunch becomes your tools to use behind the bar on a day to day basis. Remember when we said that you are not to train the beginners? Well this is because you have made their progress the ‘Average’ guys responsibility. This increase in knowledge and the increase in responsibility they are getting from becoming mentors will catapult both groups through the ranks
  • The beginners see a pack moving away from them and leaving them behind. This triggers the question asking and the intent for learning thus creating a great baseline team for your self to work with



So as you can see we have moved the whole team-up. And it’s only up again from here

Grab your staff list; it’s time to work out that one thing for now that each individual needs work on.



  1. How To Train


The most effective way to train is to have patience. There is no quickfire method that is guaranteed to work. What is guaranteed though is that you get out of training what you put in. remember working smart is better than working hard.

Every person in the world learns a little differently to the next person. But every person in the world can learn and that is a fact.

Have a look at this diagram then the explanation below.


CYCLICAL What is the Purpose?

You cannot train an adult without the purpose. If you tell a child to jump up and down then they most likely will. They will also smile and laugh while they are doing it. Ask an adult to jump up and down and they will ask why? It’s only when you tell them there is a deadly spider crawling around their feet will they jump around like crazy trying to get out of the way. It’s just the way our brains are wired.  So why is it important that we stock up the beer fridges at the end of the night? Because we have too is not a good enough answer. So we have cold beers in the morning for the first customer. Once a purpose as leant it’s wait to an action then it sticks in our mind as a must-do, it adds a responsibility to the action. The bartender now thinks, “I must remember to stock up tonight otherwise the regular in the morning won’t have his cold beer and it would be my fault”.



Simply this is showing the trainee either a skill in action or how you want them to behave. Show them as if they were to mirror your actions



So we have already showed them how we want something to be done. Let’s carry on the analogy of stocking up the beers at the end of the night. The shift before we have showed them how to place the beers in, to check dates for stock rotation, we have shown them the fridge plan and where the warm beers are kept. Now this shift we tell them to do the same as the night before and we watch from a distance or we follow them closely without interfering depending on their learning styles.



We have shown and we have told. Now it’s time to ask. We are not asking a direct question here. We are asking them, in this analogy, if there is anything else left for them to do. Push them for the answer.  “Yes, I have just got to go and stock up the fridges” and again we watch



The most important aspect of your training regime is this part. Refrain yourself from doing the ‘ask’ part again. It’s difficult but you have got to do it. This is where you are looking for them to complete an action without your prompt. Pay close attention to them, if they don’t do it then they are yet to create a habit in their brains. And so we must start again from the show phase straight away.

This is where your patience can be tested but if you persevere it will save you a lot of headaches down the line. Imagine coming into work and everything is perfect, just perfect. As in you couldn’t of done it better yourself.


If your trainee as completed it correctly that congratulations you can move on to the other things you need to train them on or other people who need your help. You have successfully created a habit that will be very hard for them to break


Remember always train the purpose and stick to the cyclical nature. You will not always be there to babysit. You need a holiday as well right. 

And that’s how to train your bartender. Don’t give up if it seems hard. Once the lessons are ingrained your life will become a lot easier.


Any questions leave them below


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Having worked within the hospitality trade for over 15 years I've done a lot. From scraping plates to the managing of 150+ staff and regularly creating thousands in revenue per week. My passion is creating a winning team that blows the competition away. There is no greater feeling than seeing the staff's achievements. So share away and let's all be better bartenders. | | The upkeep of this website can be thirsty work! Would you like to buy us a drink?

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  • Holly

    This is REALLY HELPFUL for me. Im currently struggling on how to train my team and get them to level we need for the team.

    July 28, 2016
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