“A good bartender gets a cold glass out the freezer, the best get the coldest ones from the back” – Sasha Petraske
It is said that an average of 10,000 hours is what it takes to master a skill, and bartending is no different. The gap between “OK” and Great is vast. It requires the hours, days and weeks of practice, sweat and dedication to be a master but even that does not necessarily translate into “Great”. We at Shaker BarSchool believe in the 5 P’s which separate the good from the bad, the part timers from the lifers, and the memorable from the fleeting.
Life is all about balance. Day needs night, work needs play, sweet needs sour and so on. Good bartenders work during a shift, great bartenders are so prepared that they can do the most important aspect of bartending: making guests feel welcome and having fun doing so! The greats are able to accommodate any sized bar without breaking a sweat as the hard work was done well beforehand. Mise en place, the French culinary term, flung around the best kitchens in the world like wet rags means ‘Prep’ or “Everything in its place” and is just as commonplace behind the world’s best bars.
Ever notice that your day ends the same way it starts? Nothing can make you stressed quite like being rushed or pushed. Having enough time to conquer even the smallest goal is both satisfying and excellent for your mental health. Getting enough sleep, planning correctly and setting attainable timelines for anything go a LONG way. Great bartenders accomplish a lot in a small amount of time. It’s better to be an hour early than a minute late.
Every human being makes a FAST presumption about who you are, where you’re from, your education levels and what you would be like as a partner within the first 2 seconds of seeing you, without even talking to you. Being presentable and an ambassador for your establishment tells guests a lot about yourself in record time. Great bartenders are the best dressed and best-groomed members of the hospitality industry and represent their venues accordingly, be it in jackets and ties or jeans and T-Shirts, they ALWAYS look sharp.
Everybody is passionate about something. For some it’s sports, cars or houses, for others it’s books, or music, you name it. Being passionate about your profession goes a long way and luckily for the best bartenders in the world, most of them would be willing to do it for free as it is the best part of their day and they love at least 80% of the job description. Not an easy ask for anyone in any profession. Great bartenders are passionate about people, travel, and the products they work with be it beer, wines, spirits or all of the above simultaneously. They are passionate about the cities they live and work in and about making their positive little dent in society.
Pride is often thought of as a selfish emotion. Pride in one’s appearance makes you feel attractive, pride in one’s work makes you feel as though you have accomplished something, but it is just for the person who takes that pride. When it comes to the great bartenders, pride in their work means knowing that they have touched every guest’s life and heart in some shape, way or form. Perhaps they’ve turned a guests’ day around, introduced 2 future lovers to each other or got a bunch of people to feel like they’re part of a community but the best bartenders go home at night knowing full well that they gave their all for a few hours to make the world a better place, even if it was just in the bar they worked or on their street in a tiny town. When the greatest bartenders in the world go to work, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and no detail is insignificant. They know that their daily efforts, no matter how small, will leave a mark long after they have moved on and will always be remembered.
Now this may not necessarily only pertain to the bartending world and can be applied anywhere, whether you’re an accountant, a stable hand or a pilot, all of which are valid in any profession and are easy to replicate in various forms. The greatest side effect of making these 5 P’s parts of your lifestyle is that improves your mental health and you end up being happier for it.
“There are some professions necessary to sustain life such as doctors or lawyers… all noble professions indeed, but then there are those who make life worth living” – Dead Poets Society