Bartending Basics: 3 Areas Every Bartender Needs to Know About

Bartending Basics: 3 Areas Every Bartender Needs to Know About
Posted July 29th, 2011 at 10:34 pm

As someone who is interested in becoming a bartender, it pays to know about the bartending basics that come along with the job.

Being a bartender includes a lot more than simply pouring drinks for customers as they request them.

Like any other profession, there are a lot of things that you need to know about your worker area, your day to day tasks, the tools of the trade, and how to prepare for your day before you even see your first customer.

Beyond that, it pays to know the basic techniques for drink mixing and serving.

So, what are some of the most important bartending basics that you should be aware of before you start looking at ways to get the certification you need to work behind a bar?

Let’s take a look at what one of the top bartending schools in Pittsburgh, PA have to say.

1. The Tools

It all starts here.

No matter what kind of job you work, chances are there are tools you need to get the work done.

Just as a carpenter needs a hammer and a chef needs a knife, you need your own set of tools in order to make drinks for your customers. Among the many implements that you’ll be using as a bartender, you will need:

  • A Can Opener – For opening cans of fruit and syrup
  • Cloths and Bar Mops – To keep an area clean and free of spills
  • A Cocktail Shaker and a Blender – For mixing cocktails
  • An Ice Bucket – To keep your ice cold and clean
  • Measuring Cups – To measure ingredients used in making mixed drinks
  • A Strainer – To remove ice, pulp, and other objects from mixes when you blend ingredients together


This is just a small sample of the many tools you’ll be using as a bartender, but it also pays to remember that there are different styles of drinking glasses meant for certain kinds of drinks. Wine has its own type of glass, as do highballs, shots, cocktails, and many of the types of drinks that you’ll be serving over your bartending career.

Even though the tools are important to your success, bartending basics go beyond what you use to do your job. You also need to know about…

2. Preparing Your Area

What you use in your line of work is just as important as how prepared you are to serve your customers once they take a seat and begin ordering their drinks. In the case of being a bartender, organization is everything!

You want to make sure that you have access to everything you need throughout the night, which means that you want your tools and drinks as close to as possible. That can be achieved through these helpful tips

  • Keep your main (most popular) liquors and your ice right in front of you. In all likelihood, you’ll be going back to these dozens of times throughout the day.
  • Safety is just as important as efficiency. As you handle drinks while you work, you may spill some. Keep a mat under your feet in the work area so that you don’t run the risk of slipping and falling.
  • You may also want to consider preparing your garnishes beforehand, so that you will have plenty to go around as people begin ordering the drinks that garnishes typically go with.


If you only take away one lesson from bartending basics, it should be that appearance counts for a lot.

By having a neatly organized work area, you can be sure to keep pace with the demands that working behind a bar can bring and that will mean more money your pocket at the end of the night.

3. Basics Techniques

Finally, when it comes to bartending basics, it helps to know all about the various techniques that you’ll be using once you start working. Some of those techniques include things like:

  • Shaking – When a drink requires that it be mixed and chilled at the same time, you put the ingredients into a shaker in order to accomplish that.
  • Blending – When you need to mix ingredients that can’t be broken apart by shaking, use a blender to ensure that the drink is made properly. Sometimes, you may need ice. When that is the case, use a fair amount of crushed ice to get the job done.
  • Building – Unique among techniques that are considered bartending basics, building means that you put the ingredients into the glass from which the drink will be served.
  • Straining – This technique ensures that large portions of ingredients are kept out of the drink as you pour it from shaker to glass

These three areas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to running a bar but, by being well versed in these aspects of bartending basics, you’ll be well on your way to earning the certification you need in order to work in places that have bars.

By attending a professional bartending school that will provide you with the kind of training that restaurant and bar owners look for, you’ll be in a fun, exciting new career in no time!

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