Food Jobs: Bartender

A bartender in an average bar will typically earn $15.00 $30.00 an hour between their wages and tips. A bartender in a high volume establishment or resort area can earn $50,000 to $75.000 per year. I gleaned this information by Googling Bartender wages. There is a heap of information about writing a resume and a cover letter to be easily accessed online.

Unless, or especially if there is another era of Prohibition, bartenders can always find a job provided of course, they are not grumpy, grungy or ungrateful for their tips.

If you are serious about a career as a bartender, you must get your hands on The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes – Hardcover (Oct. 15, 2002) by Dale DeGroff and his other brilliant book, The Essential Cocktail.

Here is an extract about Dale from my Food Jobs book:

Martha Stewart has described Master Bartender Dale DeGroff as “the Billy Graham of the holy spirits.” She is right, of course, as always.

Dale DeGroff is to cocktails as a hand to a glove. They fit. He says: “I fell in love with bars because of the uninhibited, disordered, and surprising way life unfolds at the bar. The only logical progression in my life has been the wealth of characters that have crossed my path. I don’t know how Muhammad Ali felt the first time he climbed into a ring, or how Louis Armstrong felt the first time he picked up a trumpet, but for me, I knew I was standing in a very familiar and cozy place when I was standing behind a bar for the first time. I knew I was home.”

For twelve years Dale ruled the luminous Promenade Bar at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan.

Dale took a journey back in time to hone his craft. He used only fresh squeezed juices and natural ingredients and figured out how to achieve just the right balance of sweet and sour, strong and weak. He searched for out-of-print recipes for cocktails everywhere he could find them, in garage sales and rare book collections. He experimented with hundreds of recipes, adjusting them to the modern palate and today’s larger portions. (The modern palate doesn’t have as sweet a tooth as once it did.)

He discovered as bakers have long known, he couldn’t simply increase the quantities and hope to get the same result as when he mixed drinks individually. He had to adjust and balance the ratio of acidic fruits to various other components of the cocktail to achieve the results he was seeking.

Not surprisingly therefore, he urges bar tenders to attend cooking school in order to get a feeling and respect for composing the many elements and flavors of the food that make up a good recipe. He also encourages an understanding of the importance of using correct techniques. He says, “Watch how chefs use their tools. Collect your own specialty tools and treat them with respect.”

In response to the question, where did you get started, he answers, “I learned about cocktails much the same way I learned to tend bar — through research and experience and talking to connoisseurs. My fellow bartenders taught me about life, and my mentor, the great restaurateur Joe Baum, sparked my curiosity to find out what makes a great cocktail.”

If you love to stay up late at night, enjoy meeting new people and go home with a pocketful of dollar bills, this might be just the right career for you.