I think I have heard this statement a hundred times: “I worked as a bartender while studying to become a dentist, architect or some other profession.”
What happens when you just want to be a professional bartender, mixologist, beverage consultant, or a director of hospitality? What if you want to be the owner of your own bar or a partner in an important chain of world bars? How about a brand ambassador or someone who is simply passionate about quality cocktails and wants to write a book that inspires many more young people to take this vocation to the next level. What do you have to work on to start your bartender career?
After a few years of seeing how Mexico behaves and how the bar scene has grown, the answer, in my opinion, is listen to your bartender!
Of course, 10 years ago there were no Mexican bars so famous or award winning as Limantour by Jose Luis Leon is now. He is a colleague and friend of mine who managed to place 13th on the list of the 50 best bars in the world. It was a difficult task. At the time, we had no idea of the impact of the social network, we did not listen to influencers, we did not know if the #hashtag was journalism or a joke. The interest in name brands was in places with great bars such as New York and London.
The last word on the menu, concept and design of a bar in Mexico was often built around the palate and occasionally provided by someone without experience, or by the person in the highest position, whether owner, manager or even the chef.
To take a bartender’s opinion into account, it is important to emphasize that you can not see something in your bartender that you yourself have not awakened, motivated or achieved. Fortunately, a bartender in Mexico earns his place and position everyday, along with the prestige of being a good bartender.
The questions that we should ask ourselves as bartenders are:
- Do my leaders have the palate to be successful in the future by testing new techniques and creations?
- Are the eyes of my leaders ready to see a new and bold future?
- Do you trust me with your name and reputation?
- Are you always asking what I will do this month for our clients?
- Do they invest in my career, so I can provide better results?
These questions are the first that came to mind after thinking about the drink list my fellow bartenders prepared for me during the change of the cocktail season.
The general idea is to ask myself, what have I sown in my team that will be worthy of harvesting and boasting about? How can I help my team of bartenders create a development plan, visit distilleries and develop courses with favorite local chefs that will create bonds and experiences between the kitchen and the bar?
How can I form a faithful team that follows me and can be trained for the long term? I believe that in these times, work loyalty is the hardest thing to achieve and it can only be accomplished over the years. For me, there is only one key: “Listen to your bartenders!”
If they listen closely, they will be able to explore their true talents within the bar. If they listen to their bartenders, they will have their confidence. There are times when they only need to agree to the rules. When there is a disagreement, it would be perfect if you could come up with an answer. If not, you know that it will be a better motivated team.
Listen to your bartender, no matter how crazy the idea. Create room for an innovative mind that is trying to excel. In the end, that’s all we want to do all as a company, leader or person. Take the risk! At least manage to step out of our comfort zone and generate a different experience, a wow moment!
If you oversee the bar, my advice is taking your place behind the bar at least once a week, dust off your favorite shaker and show your team that you are with them in battle. Share the experience and be an example of hospitality behind the bar!