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Bar staff

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I've just started a new job on a bar of a fairly large country pub. I have told them several times that I only have a little bar experience from my old job, but they still seem to be under the impression that they can throw me in at the deep end :nervous: I went in for a couple of hours today just to be shown the bar, but I start my first proper shift tomorrow! So I guess I need some advice. My main source of bar knowledge is coming from going out drinking myself! I only really know the obvious drinks! I have no idea how to do a port and lemon, lager top or anything more complicated than a vodka and coke :confused: Anyone have bar tending knowledge that they want to share?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You will learn while you're there. You won't be put on the bar by yourself so the other bar staff will show you everything, If a customer asks for something and you don't know what it you can always ask them, although be wary of this because even though they'll be nice they can be really patronising and make you want to thump them. Also if its a regular three years later they'll still be banging on about it 'eeeh remember when she first came and didn't know what larger top was, eeeh look at her now....' etc. Best to ask your fellor bar staff!

    I've trained up loads of bar staff and the best way is to get them on the bar and just show them as they go along, otherwise you'll never remember it all
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've just started a new job on a bar of a fairly large country pub. I have told them several times that I only have a little bar experience from my old job, but they still seem to be under the impression that they can throw me in at the deep end :nervous: I went in for a couple of hours today just to be shown the bar, but I start my first proper shift tomorrow! So I guess I need some advice. My main source of bar knowledge is coming from going out drinking myself! I only really know the obvious drinks! I have no idea how to do a port and lemon, lager top or anything more complicated than a vodka and coke :confused: Anyone have bar tending knowledge that they want to share?


    whatever you do..DON'T PANIC! :eek: when it gets busy dont get yourself in a huff so relax, otherwise you make more mistakes. if someones being a nobhead to you :mad: , dont serve them. make them wait :p . as for the drinks you'll learn as you go along, but stuff like lager top is easy..leave a couple of centimetres at the top and pop some lemonade in. finally..dont be afraid to ask the customer what something is if you dont know, explain that your new and your fine :)

    btw..atleast you had some experience, i was chucked in at the deepend with no experience at all!!

    Hope thats helped :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Larger top - very similar to larger dash - a pint with a small amount of lemonade in. I put the lemonade in the bottom for a dash and in the top for a top - but whichever way you do it someone complains! I found this rule got me the least amount of complaints. Also be very wary of adding lemonade to bitters and ales - ask for advice before you do this to avoid an explosion!

    Port and lemon - never served this but I'm assuming its port and lemonade? Port is served in double measures, as is baileys and something else which I can't remember. Ask which ones are double measured

    If you get it wrong and anyone complains just apologise and tell them its your first shift. They're normally nice then and will try and help but if they're not then don't be afraid to tell your supervisor/manager/other bar staff because you're not being paid to take abuse from people.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    whatever you do..DON'T PANIC! :eek: when it gets busy dont get yourself in a huff so relax, otherwise you make more mistakes.

    :yes: If its busy you will NEED to come up with some kind of way to remember who is next otherwise people will get pissed off and its very infuriating for the customer. When you're serving drinks keep glancing back to the bar to check if anyone new has arrived. If you have a round of 5 or 6 drinks then by the time you're poured these and rang them through the till loads more people will have come to the bar and you won't have a clue who's next. Remembering what people are wearing/hairstyles etc are good for making a mental note who's next. Don't be afraid of serving one person and telling another they will be next, or giving a little nod to show that you have noticed them
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    kangoo wrote: »
    ...Port and lemon - never served this but I'm assuming its port and lemonade?...

    I don't recall serving this when I was bar staff, but just be warned it might be port and BITTER LEMON which is usually the one in the little glass bottles (like tonic water, tomato juice etc). Best to check :)

    I used to work in a very traditional old restaurant with a bar like a country pub so I'm working from that....

    Bitter - spout touching the bottom of the glass, long hard quick-ish pull should fill the glass half full; slower one to top it up. If you've got a bitter plus other drinks to do, do the bitter first and leave it on the bar to settle while you do the others.

    Bitter shandy - I was taught to put half a pint of lemonade in the glass, stir it round with a swizzle stick thingy then while it was still spinning (think water going down the plug hole) put the glass under and up the spout, spout touching the bottom of the glass and top up the glass with bitter VERY slowly.

    Guiness - don't know if all the taps are the same, but we could just flick the tap and leave it running to 3/4 full, then switch it off, do something else then go back to it to top up. No tilting of glass required.

    White wine spritzer - check first if the customer wants it with soda water or lemonade.

    V&T, G&T, B&C, if your tonic and Coke are sold in little glass bottles - check if they want ice. Ice in, spirit over it, you take the top off the bottle, put in a dash and put the bottle next to the glass on the bar. Then they can add as much or as little of the mixer as they want.

    Don't be afraid to write the order down if it helps, and see if you can maybe tell them to find a table and you'll bring the drinks over if you don't want them watching you ;) (check if your bosses allow that; some do, some don't).

    Will come back with more later if I remember them.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i find the best way to do shandys/ies is to get your pint with the lemonade in and then an empty pint glass and pour into one another 5/6 times(this makes it flat) then just pour the lager. with a beer shandy,do the same except dont tip the glass-otherwise you end up with a massive head and then your buggered :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't recall serving this when I was bar staff, but just be warned it might be port and BITTER LEMON which is usually the one in the little glass bottles (like tonic water, tomato juice etc). Best to check :)

    I used to work in a very traditional old restaurant with a bar like a country pub so I'm working from that....

    Bitter - spout touching the bottom of the glass, long hard quick-ish pull should fill the glass half full; slower one to top it up. If you've got a bitter plus other drinks to do, do the bitter first and leave it on the bar to settle while you do the others.

    Bitter shandy - I was taught to put half a pint of lemonade in the glass, stir it round with a swizzle stick thingy then while it was still spinning (think water going down the plug hole) put the glass under and up the spout, spout touching the bottom of the glass and top up the glass with bitter VERY slowly.

    Guiness - don't know if all the taps are the same, but we could just flick the tap and leave it running to 3/4 full, then switch it off, do something else then go back to it to top up. No tilting of glass required.

    White wine spritzer - check first if the customer wants it with soda water or lemonade.

    V&T, G&T, B&C, if your tonic and Coke are sold in little glass bottles - check if they want ice. Ice in, spirit over it, you take the top off the bottle, put in a dash and put the bottle next to the glass on the bar. Then they can add as much or as little of the mixer as they want.

    Don't be afraid to write the order down if it helps, and see if you can maybe tell them to find a table and you'll bring the drinks over if you don't want them watching you ;) (check if your bosses allow that; some do, some don't).

    Will come back with more later if I remember them.

    That was very helpful thankyou! Are there anymore I should know? I think I knew most of those already but it's good to have them confirmed. Because it's an old place, they also serve old ales brewed themselves, is there any special way of pulling them, or just keep the glass tilted as you would for lager? Also, with bitter, do you mean the spout all the way inside the glass? And should it be pulled out when I push the handle back up? And guiness and black, is that just the same as lager and lime, but with blackcurrant obviously? . . . :chin: think that's all my questions at the moment...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oh no wait I have another, spirits and mixers, usually half pint glass? Or something in between a pint and a half?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    half pint glass, or equivilant...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You get the hang of things, don't worry. They can't put you on by yourself... as others have said, you learn as you go along.

    Main thing I go by....the custemor is NEVER right. If they complain about something trivial, ignore them. Serve someone else.
    Be prepared to get called 'luv' and 'darling' alot.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Because it's an old place, they also serve old ales brewed themselves, is there any special way of pulling them, or just keep the glass tilted as you would for lager? Also, with bitter, do you mean the spout all the way inside the glass? And should it be pulled out when I push the handle back up? And guiness and black, is that just the same as lager and lime, but with blackcurrant obviously? . . . :chin: think that's all my questions at the moment...

    For the bitter and ale, put the glass under the spout and lift it back up until the spout clinks on the bottom of the glass and hold it there as you pull it. No need to move the glass between pulls; just take the second one slower than the first.

    Not sure about the Guiness and black - don't think I've ever done one, but I would assume the same as you, that it's blackcurrant cordial.
    Oh no wait I have another, spirits and mixers, usually half pint glass? Or something in between a pint and a half?

    Yes, half pint tall glass. There are sometimes promo glasses to be used which will say the brand on them. Like we had Gordons glasses for Gordons gin and Bombay Sapphire glasses for BS gin - never serve one in the others type of glass! Sometimes you get women wanting half a pint of bitter. We had fancier glasses which were equivalent to half a pint, but didn't look like a mini-pint glass (you know with the bump near the top). Have a look around the bar and see what glasses they've got :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you're making a bitter shandy... stir the lemonade with a mixer first to get rid of all the bubbles or it'll froth up like crazy when you pull the bitter in. Unfortunately it does look like you're spiking their drink.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ok cheers. Erm...a few more...things like whiskey and lemonade do I have to ask them what whiskey they want? And what's the kinda default brand? Same with gin, and rum, these are all the spirits I'm not really familiar with. And the coke and sprite are on a machine, so to a just put the shot in a half pint glass, with ice, and top up with the mixer? Someone's bound to ask me for some obscure gin i've never heard of, but I suppose I can always ask them to point it out!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Check with the other bar staff or management - there will be a default brand (whatever they can get cheapest! ;)).

    The owner of where I worked was a whisky genius and had over 40 brands of whisky on the shelf - some of which I couldn't even pronounce! We had Grants and Bells on the rack with the spirit measure attached, and anything else was measured out by hand. The boss knew all the regulars and they'd make a point of "after dinner drinks" where they would drink their way through the specials at about £5 a shot!

    I would do the lemonade/Coke mixer topup in front of the customer and literally ask them "How much?" and they'll tell you when to stop.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i find the best way to do shandys/ies is to get your pint with the lemonade in and then an empty pint glass and pour into one another 5/6 times(this makes it flat) then just pour the lager. with a beer shandy,do the same except dont tip the glass-otherwise you end up with a massive head and then your buggered :)

    Ew don't do that with larger or the pint will be flat
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oh no wait I have another, spirits and mixers, usually half pint glass? Or something in between a pint and a half?

    They will tell you which glass to use. All pubs are different and some are very particular
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    kangoo wrote: »
    Ew don't do that with larger or the pint will be flat

    i've got told on a few occasions that its the best shandy theyv ever tasted!! haha. each to their own
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Give it a quick twizzle around with a straw, otherwise your pint will be too fizzy!

    Unless the lager is flat to begin with, flat lemonade shouldnt be a problem.

    As for working on a bar, best to get chucked in the deepend!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If your lager is coming out too fizzy with a huge head on it, don't put the glass under the tap until about a second after you've turned it on. You'll waste less doing it that way than you will waiting until the end and trying to get rid of the head. And the outside of the glass won't be covered in lager either, meaning you won't end up with a filthy bar. Also the more horizontal you hold the glass when pouring, the less head you get. If you're not getting a head, swill the lager around a bit while it's pouring and it usually sorts it out.

    As for spirits, just learn them (and smell them, so when someone asks about them, you know what flavour they are). The most important thing is the learn what is what. I can't tell you the number of people who don't know that Bacardi is rum, for example. Generally a small pub will only have two options. But as a general rule, if a customer is ordering a spirit with tonic or on its own, then you can offer them the more expensive stuff. If it's with coke, just offer them Smirnoff or house. Remember you've got white and dark rum too, so if someone asks for a rum and coke, find out what sort they want.

    The other thing to figure out quickly is your white wines. Dry, medium and sweet. Find out what your pub sells as each straight away. Some pubs don't do sweet white wine any more though, because it's almost exclusively shit.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Right I'm back, done my first shift. To be fair, I was pretty rubbish.

    Every Carling I pulled came out with zero head, even without tilting it. How much head should there on Carling anyway? And I was serving a group of farmer types, one of which kept whinging he would refuse to drink his pint because it was 'flat'. I'm guessing that means no head? Also had trouble with the head on my ales, there was hardly any. Every shandy I did however had a couple of inches of head! Which I had to keep tipping off and half of which ended up on the floor. I definitly messed up the till, but hopefully they won't notice :nervous: it was more of a case of not knowing where a certain button was, so charging them the button I could find. A guy on the other side of the bar, who I'd never met before but apparantly works there, had to come around a change a barrel for me evern though had already been shown, and he had to pull a pint of ale for after 2 attempts and no head. So went pretty red faced, especially as the bar was pretty full and everyone was watching the comotion.

    All in all, not a successfull shift :(
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Sounds like you did pretty well actually. Worsty thing is having loads of people ataring at you when you're learning something. Don't worry about changing the barrel, there's no wayyou should be doing that on your first day, even if you had been shown!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't worry, everyone does that on their first few shifts. I agree, most places wouldn't have new staff changing a barrel because it can be pretty tricky even when you have someone who knows what they're doing talking you through it.

    Quick tips for next time. With the lager that's getting no head or is flat (flat means there's no bubbles, not no head, though the two often go hand in hand), swill it around the glass quickly as you're pouring it. Or you can hold the glass further down so that the lager has to fall further from the tap before it lands in the glass.

    Also, don't try and tip the head off've a glass when you've got too much. All it does is pour the drink out, and the head stays on top. Just hold the glass straight and continue filling the glass until the head pours over the side (if it's particularly gassy, it might take a while, but I guarantee you end up with less waste this way). Either that or just wait for it to go down and top it up.

    Never done ale myself, so I can't help you there though.

    I've been doing this for 3 years (not full time, but enough so that I should know what I'm doing), and I've had all of the same problems that you've mentioned tonight. I had to get someone to show me how to change the barrel tonight. What? I only work on a bar a couple of times a month, so I forget. I also didn't hold the cocktail shaker tightly enough and covered myself in sex on the beach.

    Everyone has these problems for their first few bar shifts, so don't worry about it. Some of us have these problems long after that. :blush:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Right I'm back, done my first shift. To be fair, I was pretty rubbish.

    Every Carling I pulled came out with zero head, even without tilting it. How much head should there on Carling anyway? And I was serving a group of farmer types, one of which kept whinging he would refuse to drink his pint because it was 'flat'. I'm guessing that means no head? Also had trouble with the head on my ales, there was hardly any. Every shandy I did however had a couple of inches of head! Which I had to keep tipping off and half of which ended up on the floor. I definitly messed up the till, but hopefully they won't notice :nervous: it was more of a case of not knowing where a certain button was, so charging them the button I could find. A guy on the other side of the bar, who I'd never met before but apparantly works there, had to come around a change a barrel for me evern though had already been shown, and he had to pull a pint of ale for after 2 attempts and no head. So went pretty red faced, especially as the bar was pretty full and everyone was watching the comotion.

    All in all, not a successfull shift :(

    you were on your own for your first shift? thats pretty bad

    sounds like you did ok! to get more head on larger pull down the glass, or jiggle it around (even though people say you're not meant to do it then it saves people from complaining about flat pints)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Everyone has these problems for their first few bar shifts, so don't worry about it. Some of us have these problems long after that. :blush:

    Couldn't agree more. I was better at waitressing than bar work so when I finished full time and just went back to work on the weekends or every other weekend I concentrated mostly on the waitressing and hated being put back on the bar!

    Like everyone has said, swill the lager round in the bottom of the glass or hold the glass about six inches below the spout so the liquid has futher to fall and gets more air into it. I don't drink lager - maybe lager drinkers have a different opinion! - but I think it's about 2cm of head.

    Bitter, I think it's the first quick pull that makes the head so try to do it a bit quicker and see if that helps.

    Do you drink in the pub too? It might be an idea to go in and loiter at the bar if the other staff are friendly enough to let you watch them at work. You'll be more relaxed and then you might pick up a few more tips :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    yeah ^ what they said. to say you were on your own, thats a lot of responsibility. if you need head on lager, tilt the tap forward slowly and a little bit and it should foam up a little bit at the top, if you press it too much it might go a little crazy but just practice. youll get the hang of it soon :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oh yeah, I forgot the lager taps go both ways! We weren't allowed to do it in front of our male boss, but his wife used to push the tap the other way if the pint looked flat. Blokey was very picky but it's a means to an end! ;)

    When is your next shift?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I worked saturday and sunday, and then my next shift is tomorrow. Sunday was marginally better than Saturday. Another thing, when a customer pays and then says and one for yourself, what do you? I asked my boss this, when a customer did it and she said you either take their offer and pour yourself a drink, or you say no thanks,never just keep the cash. So the next person who did it, I said no thanks to and he looked mortally offended! I don't really want to drink alcohol when I'm working, too much of a lightweight, and I can get coke for free. What's the normal ettiquette? Would it be ok to say 'thanks very much, I'll have a coke'?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I worked saturday and sunday, and then my next shift is tomorrow. Sunday was marginally better than Saturday. Another thing, when a customer pays and then says and one for yourself, what do you? I asked my boss this, when a customer did it and she said you either take their offer and pour yourself a drink, or you say no thanks,never just keep the cash. So the next person who did it, I said no thanks to and he looked mortally offended! I don't really want to drink alcohol when I'm working, too much of a lightweight, and I can get coke for free. What's the normal ettiquette? Would it be ok to say 'thanks very much, I'll have a coke'?

    At the pub I used to work at, when they said 'and one for yourself' we usually just took 50p or so out of their change as that is much cheaper than asking them to buy a J2O or an alcoholic drink that you could have at the end of your shift, some did insist on buying us an actual drink though. Seeing as your boss doesn't allow this, then it should be fine for you to say 'thanks very much, do you mind if I have a Coke?' or whatever, as long as you feel comfortable saying this to your customer.
    Also, we could always print off the receipts for drinks customers had bought us, have them signed by the superviser and then use them to get a drink on another day. Not sure if other places allow staff to do this.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Since I've started driving home, I just get a coke off the customer if they offer it. But I used to get something alcoholic. I'd usually get something cheap like a vodka, and then fill it up with coke, or a half pint, and pay for the other half myself (or wait for someone else to offer me a drink). Of course if work offers me a free drink, it's double Remy Martin and cocktails all the way. ;)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Been there nearly a week now. Quick update: Got the hang of most of the basic stuff, still a few problems though.

    Firstly I'm still pouring flat lagers, I do everything in theory, make sure the glass is cold, slosh it around a bit and do it from a bit of a height. But still some of the guy customers are complaining :blush: Just to check, when they complain it's flat, that is my fault isn't it, not the tap or something like that? Never heard them have problems with anyone else. What's going wrong? I get this on a few of the pumps too, but I guess I just need to pump a bit harder. It's so much easier getting rid of head than creating it!
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