Bartending from the outside in

It’s a tough proposition, being asked to dispense advice on making better bartenders in an age when everyone and their cat has an opinion on what elevates a cocktail to a great cocktail. The world surely needs excellent bartenders, perhaps now more than ever, as those in charge of weaponized countries whisk us all toward hell in a handcart, but the essential problem is this: hyperbole aside, bartending actually is an art when practiced at a level worthy of charging upwards of fourteen bucks a pop for a few ounces of boozes mixed in a glass. And like all artists, the bartender will chisel out their unique style and form over time and with practice, through love and repetition, and they will adopt and discard many influences as they make their way through their career. We’re supposed to be unique, it’s how we build a wonderful and loyal clientele, and the last thing we need is a nation of clone bartenders. Bringing the wonder of you, your precious singularity, into the world over your bar top is a generosity worth paying for. But like the other artists—our musicians, actors, painters, hockey players—there are certain fundamentals we must all master if we aspire to greatness. When it comes to our careers we have but two choices: to be either great or not great. That’s it. So if you’re the type that would like to be great at that thing you do, we must discuss fundamentals. And my number one, all-time, best-of-the-best, fundamental advice to the trade is this: Tend your bar from the outside looking in.

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