“The more you practice, the luckier you get” – Gary Player

The best bars in the world, much like the best restaurants in the world, are where you will find the absolute pinnacle of mixological and culinary skill. They offer grand displays of theatre and technique that far surpass what any mere mortal would ever wish to be able to accomplish. These types of establishments will mostly also offer the best working experience, be a massive plus on your resume, not to mention give the best salaries and provide their employees with the most benefits.

But how does a career bartender get employed at establishments like these?

The best bars want a lot from their bartenders: immense amounts of natural talent, experience, discipline and skill. So here are a few rules to help you get ahead of the crowd.

Rule Number 1: Learn, fail, and learn some more.

Many of the top bartenders had humble beginnings in local pubs but have dedicated themselves to learning and been willing to make mistakes as they hone their skills. Attending a bar school such as Shaker shortens the length of this learning curve as our experts help you to the basics under your belt quickly. However, you will need dedication to build on these skills; the difference between affordable and luxurious is the attention to detail. To the best bartenders absolutely no detail is insignificant, from the size of the bubble in their home-made soda to the temperature of their hand-cut ice. So, the best bartenders research any possible information that could take their drinks to an unmatched level.

Fat washing, switching, ice carving, rotary evaporators, centrifuges, not to mention learning about every distillery a bartender could possibly work with, are part and parcel of what it takes to be a world-leading bartender. The world’s best are unbridled knowledge seekers. They will use any and all opportunities to absorb information that could potentially give them or the bars they work in an edge.

Anything from agriculture to art, sports and philosophy. They are able to engage with any guest on any topic in any bar.  The kind of clientele they are trying to attract are happy to spend the money on an unforgettable experience, not just drinks. One story that sticks out was a bartender in London taught himself to speak, read and write Italian in order to study the Barbaresco Encyclopaedia first edition, all just to better understand Italian rosso Vermouth and its origins and composition.

humbled by the vast unchartered waters of skills and flavours still left to discover in the craft of bartending and are giddy at the idea of discovering more.

Rule number 2: Walk gently with a big stick.

A tremendous African saying, reminding one to be confident but not arrogant.

It’s important not to make your guests uncomfortable with arrogance. Plus, once you’re at the top, every other bartender wishes nothing more than to topple you off your post. They will out-work, out-learn and outpace you every chance they get, so remaining humble whilst being confident in your abilities will ensure you are practicing rule 1 consistently.

Rule number 3: Get yourself out there.

Enter as many cocktail competitions as you possibly can! This will get you exposure to owners, managers, brands and operators who will know you are serious, whether you win or not. Win if you can though!

Rule Number 4: Build a following.

Owners like the idea of a buy bar or restaurant so even if you aren’t currently working at the world’s 50 best yet, having a great reputation for professionalism, technical skill and grandmother level hospitality will have them falling at your feet (plus making you more valuable in the process). This takes time, but you have the ability to add a regular to your database, no matter where you’re working.

Rule number 6: Discipline.

This is not the place to work for beer money. You’re expected to be in peak professional form, day in, day out. Being paid like a professional comes with working like a professional. The best bartenders in the world have a career mentality, not a job mentality. They know that they have to be in tune and on time, prepared and ready for every service. Coming to work with a hangover is most certainly frowned upon.

Rule number 7: Care.

Whilst many believe that the technical prowess alone is enough to get you within the sights of the discerning judging panellists, there are plenty of unrecognised establishments around the world that are able to foam, gelee, infuse and wow that are at best, an unmemorable a once off visit.