By thenimblebar

Secrets To Cutting Someone Off At Your Establishment (Part 1 of 2)

A 2-part framework designed to build your awareness around what may arise, and a mental toolkit to gracefully handle any situation

Cutting someone off is one of the most difficult things you will have to do as a bartender, server, or manager.


Between the US and Canada alone, 15.8 million people have Alcohol Use Disorder. This means the chances you’ll encounter a challenging situation in your establishment are high.


Learning to effectively cut someone off is a necessary skill for a successful, responsible bartender. And ultimately, knowing that you can disarm these situations will skyrocket your confidence, increasing the comfort-level for you and your customers.


Sometimes  difficult situations come storming through our doors like a raging bull. Sometimes they’re much  harder to detect–all is well for several visits, and then suddenly, there’s a live-wire that needs diffusing.


Because let’s face it, when humans are under the influence of alcohol, we operate at a primitive cognitive level. As bartenders, sometimes we’re forced to deal with that level of awareness. It can be like reasoning with a toddler (but with way more emotional baggage). 


In other words, it’s delicate.


So how can you become a bartender with the confidence and tact to disarm any situation?


An alternative to ‘cutting someone off’


Before we add individual maneuvers to your toolkit, let’s consider replacing the term ‘cut someone off’ with ‘put a guest under our care’.


Switching lenses in this way is powerful for two reasons:


  1. Saying “Our” → Now the responsibility falls on your entire team–not just you. Your first response  when your ’spidey-senses’ are tingling should be to let everyone on your team know. This will raise your whole team’s awareness, empower you (strength in numbers), and likely raise the consciousness of the individual in question (we can sense when people’s eyes are on us).


  1. Remembering the importance of “Guest” and “Care” → Despite the fuss they are causing, your customer is still a guest, and you have a moral (if not legal) obligation to care for them. This can help you avoid escalating the problem. Battles can arise when we forcibly say “you’re cut off.”  Instead, saying something like “I won’t be serving you any more tonight” places less blame on the intoxicant, sets a clear boundary, and assumes full responsibility.


Now that we have a more appropriate lens through which to view these situations, let’s begin by looking at the maneuvers that are always at your disposal. (In Part 2 of this guide, we’ll show word-for-word scripts of these maneuvers in action.)


12 Bullet-Proof* Maneuvers You Can Use To Disarm Any Situation

*Nothing’s actually bullet-proof, but these come pretty close.


1. Legality + Liquor Inspectors


One of my favourites is to simply use the law as a reason why we can’t serve someone. 


There are two specific reasons this mechanism is so effective:


  1. The law is outside of your control — aka you have no choice
  2. The law speaks to signs/indicators that you are noticing in the individual — in other words, the individual isn’t wrong, and maybe they’re not even too intoxicated…they’re just signs that you’re noticing.


It’s almost as though you and the individual are both looking at a shared problem, which takes away any sense of there being a battle between the two of you — you’re in it together.


To add more weight to this, you can mention that liquor inspectors have been breathing down your neck, and they’re in the establishment all the time, so everyone’s on high alert (“apologies if I misread the situation, but liquor inspectors have been breathing down our necks!”).


You can also deploy a bit of empathy and say, “I was recently in the exact same state as you and was told I seemed too intoxicated just a couple days ago!”


2. The Water Move


The Water Move is a negotiation tactic for when you may need a bit more time to gauge the situation. 


You simply say, “I’ll tell you what, you drink this pint of water, and then we’ll talk”


You could put the glass of water down, and go off and do something else while the maneuver takes its effect.


This gets them to slow down their rate of consumption (possibly bringing them to their senses that they don’t need any more to drink).


This is another consciousness-raising maneuver as you asking them to drink more water is a clear sign that they may appear intoxicated, and it’s tough to argue when you’re acting in their best interest.


3. The Ethical Lie


Many people think lying is bad, but when it’s in the best interest of everyone’s experience at your establishment…it might be a good thing.


For example, I recently heard a story about a bar that was empty in the middle of the day.


A clearly intoxicated person came in asking for a seat at the bar.


Without skipping a beat, the bartender said “Apologies sir, we’re all booked up tonight!”


This is an ethical lie.


You can always say that there are reservations, that you’re fully booked, that last call has already been done (because there’s going to be a buy-out), etc.


4. Extreme Ownership


The Extreme Ownership maneuver is one of my favourites for when someone says “who’s your manager?”


You see, 9 times out of 10, when an intoxicated person asks you this question, their goal is to take you out of your power.


And at the Nimble Bar School, we don’t let our students walk in a world (especially not behind a bar) where people can take them out of their power.


So what we tell them to say in response to this question is this: 


“Actually, I own the place, so I don’t have a manager.”


And if you have an ownership mentality behind your bar, which you should, people are less likely to f*%k with you in the first place.


5. “Have I done something to offend you?”


Sometimes you’ll just get an iffy vibe from someone. Maybe they’re staring you down, or they’re rude.


And since our first line of defense can’t be “Get out!” (because we’re tactful wizards), we have to approach it with a bit more grace.


The best way to disarm a situation like this is by simply asking, “Have I done something to offend you?”


Again, you’re not making them wrong (even if they are), you’re asking an honest question and you’re assuming responsibility.


6. “I won’t be serving you tonight” 


That being said, sometimes you don’t need to be as graceful as you think you do, and can matter-of-factly say, “I won’t be serving you tonight”


Because putting a guest under your care is really about putting ultra clear boundaries in place.


  • Not “I can’t serve you any more” → This suggests that you have an option…
  • Not “I don’t feel comfortable” → This makes it about you…
  • Not “You’re cut off” → This makes them wrong and could lead to embarrassment (which could arm, instead of disarm, the situation)…


Very simply: “I won’t be serving you tonight”


You can do it with a kind smile, and possibly follow-up with one of the aforementioned maneuvers, but the boundary is very clear. You. Will. Not. Serve. Them.


7. Remove the barrier → Go to their side of the bar


When you’re behind the bar, you have the power. Think about it, everyone is coming to you, and you have what they want.


But you actually leverage this power more effectively if you go to their side of the bar, and you show that you’re not abusing the inherent power you have.


You don’t need the barrier to do what you gotta do.


So you go around the bar, to where they’re sitting, and kindly, yet assertively, say what you have to say. And you say it directly to them, out of the ear-shot of others.


Which brings us to another maneuver:


8. Pull them aside


If you can’t say what you have to say out of ear-shot of others at the bar, then simply say “Hey, can we have a quick chat over here?”


Taking them aside shows that you respect them.


9. Group dealings: delegate responsibility to least-intoxicated individual


Sometimes you’ll encounter groups where there’s just one member in the group who is too intoxicated for you to serve.


Before using any of the above maneuvers, delegate the responsibility of the situation to someone in the group who isn’t intoxicated.


Pull that person aside by saying, “Can we chat over here for a quick second?”


If they say “Why?” you can respond with “‘I’d like to get your advice on something”


10. Future Focus


Part of the reason not ser


An effective way to help them understand that you’re not taking something away from them now, is by helping them focus on the future benefits.


For example, you could say something like “I want you to look forward to coming back soon, instead of feeling crappy because I gave you too much tonight”


(See how you always assume responsibility and never make them wrong?)


Or you could say “Come visit us tomorrow — we’ll give you another drink then”


You can put this maneuver on steroids with the following tactic…


11. Give them something


At one of the bars we consulted with, we recommended that they create business cards that say, “Finally a business card that’s good for something. Exchange this card and redeem it for a treat on us”


And then on the back we ask for some of their contact info so that we can stay in touch with them.


But if you use the future focus maneuver AND give them a card like this…they really can’t be terribly upset with you: not only are you assuming responsibility and acting in their best interest…You’re also giving them a GIFT.


And of course, you can always use this maneuver:


12. The Police

If you’re unable to rectify the situation, then you’ll simply say “We’ll have to get the police in here” and then call them.


Chances are pretty good as soon as they find out you’ve done so, they’ll leave, but don’t leave it to chance. Call the police.


A closing note on using these maneuvers


Half the battle is getting comfortable with the discomfort you’ll feel in being direct. Employing these maneuvers will take a bit of courage, and some training.


The best thing you can do is be prepared for the awkward silence between you using the maneuver, and the guest registering it.


And know that you’ll be able to confidently deal with whatever their response is.


So study these maneuvers, imagine yourself using them in different situations, and practice role-playing with your team.


Part 2 of this guide will feature word-for-word scripts from real-life examples of these maneuvers in action.


What’d I Miss?

Now…Are there any strategies for disarming difficult situations at your establishment that you think I’ve missed?

Share with us in the comments below!


By thenimblebar

A Chat With Dead Rabbit’s Sam Casuga on Her Journey to One of the Best Bars in the World

Sam Casuga has worked at some of the best bars in Canada, and is currently a senior bartender at Dead Rabbit in New York City and a brand-ambassador for Chareau Aloe Liqueur. She’s a testament that you can have a long, wholesome, and fulfilling career in this industry, and she lets us in on some of her secrets…

In this chat, we asked about…

  • How Sam got started as a bartender…
  • The steps she took to get to the Dead Rabbit…
  • What a day-in-the-life is like for Sam…
  • What Dead Rabbit does differently from other bars to be more efficient and optimized…
  • The book Sam currently recommends the most to bar owners who want to take it to the next level and why (spoiler alert: Mixology & Mayhem)
  • Sam’s secret weapon that sets her apart…
  • And more…

Watch the conversation here:


Full Transcript:


All right. Hey, Sam.




Want to tell us a bit about who you are, and what you’re up to?






I’m Samantha Casuga. I’m originally from Calgary, Alberta. Used to live in Victoria. Now I’m currently residing in New York City where I’m working at The Dead Rabbit.


Awesome. How long have you been at The Dead Rabbit?


This past May was my second-year anniversary, so just over two years.


Okay. Could you take us back to the moment you realized you wanted to be a bartender? Just tell us a bit about that story, where you were, and if there was some sort of, “Aha,” or some sort of spark that happened that set you on this journey.


Totally. Well, like most of us who start in hospitality, I definitely just kind of picked up hosting shifts at a wine bar. Then just kind of worked my way through it, realized I really liked the hospitality industry and wanted to stay in it. When I moved to Victoria, I started at Veneto as a server’s assistant. That’s where I met Simon Ogden and the rest of them through … I didn’t know immediately that I wanted to be behind the bar, but I really enjoyed it and I thought it was really cool that cocktail culture was this elaborate. I had no idea before this. I did continue working at wine bars, and then started serving, and then managing eventually.

I didn’t really realize I liked bartending until I was literally just thrown into it. I think especially in Victoria, the community was so small. Being another female bartender, another keen, young bartender, Shawn Soole, and Simon just both took me under their wings and definitely showed me that this could be a legitimate career. Since then, when I joined Veneto with Simon, he really helped me see that this is a legitimate career, and it could really take you places. I wouldn’t say it was an immediate, one-time, “Aha.” It was definitely over time, and then fully realizing just how vast this industry is.


Yeah. That’s awesome. You’ve come a long way. I mean, Veneto’s a great bar in Victoria, but now you’re at one of the best in the world, Dead Rabbit in NYC. Can you tell us about some of the steps you took to get there?


Yeah. I mean, a lot of people ask me this. It comes up in conversation all the time, especially, it’s like, “How did you end up at Dead Rabbit? How did you get a visa?” Well, I mean, unintentionally or not, it started as soon as I started bartending. I found great success immediately, whether it be because I worked really hard at it, but then I also, I just feel like it was the right time, right place. I fell into the hands of the right people. Yeah. I worked my ass off, but I also stayed humble. I did the appropriate steps. I was patient. After Veneto, I went, I did actually go back to Calgary. I was managing a program there —


What bar was that in Calgary?


That was at Native Tongues in Calgary, but it was my friend’s restaurant. We were about a year and a half delayed, so I was kind of bouncing around and working different bars in the city, which was great, because I got to learn the industry there and learn the community there. That helped a lot, but really, essentially as I started bartending up until even now, I’m still doing it, I was competing a lot. I was really putting myself in any opportunity that came. Immediately started bartending, Shawn Soole had his book come out. He asked me to be a part of it. Of course, I said, “Yes.” I attend every sort of training, any sort of program out there, educational for bartenders. I just did everything I could. When I was in Calgary, I started traveling more in the States.


I was doing any of those programs, like Camp Runamok, Bar Institute, Tales of the Cocktail I going to. I’m a very social person. I think all bartenders are, but I was definitely just putting myself out there. That helps a lot, because once it actually came down to coming to New York, which I’d always wanted to do. I was so prepared for the visa and for what it needed that it wasn’t seamless, but it was a lot easier for me to get everything together and get everything prepared. Getting to Dead Rabbit, obviously it took me, I do bartending by this point about for, just over five years. It took me five years to get prepared to make a big move like that, but it was definitely just over time and being diligent, and I just kept at it the whole time.


Yeah. Have you worked at any other bars in New York City?






I actually have a part-time brand ambassador role, which is pretty cool, and that’s totally different.


For who?


It’s an aloe liqueur coming out of California, so it’s not available in Canada yet, but it’s a small little brand that’s super awesome. We’re a very small team of brand ambassadors, all bartenders, but even that, having Chareau under my belt as well just really helps me in the industry. I meet a ton more people than I would by just bartending in New York City. I have so many more opportunities just because I’ve taken on another project.


Yeah. Well, that’s actually a great segue, because my next question, I’d just love to hear a bit about a day in the life of Sam Casuga today. I mean, I’m not sure how often you’re bartending, but it’d be great to get a picture of a day in the life. Also, just what your whole work-life balance looks like.


Totally. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, okay. I feel like I’m just starting to really, really figure it out now. In the past six months, I’ve really figured out my work-life balance not to a T yet, but it’s really coming along. I’m really happy about it. A typical day in the life for me these days. I work a lot. With a part-time brand job, you don’t really have a set schedule. You kind of just fit it in where you can. I’m at Dead Rabbit about four days a week, but I do pick up a lot, so I’m there quite often. When you do work in the Parlor at Dead Rabbit, it does require a lot of extra time. We usually run R&D for about three months per menu flip. We flip the menu every six months, so we’re in R&D quite a bit, but–


Like research and development?


Yeah. Because we come up with all of our cocktails as a team, we collaborate. It’ll be once a week for about three hours. This is when we come up with our ideas and present our cocktails. We work on them together. That’s another, I mean, not a shift, but it’s another commitment that has to be done if you’re a part of the team. Then we also have monthly trainings for Dead Rabbit and BlackTail. Then on top of that, there are just extra ones that are kind of thrown into there if you can attend. A typical day for me is I wake up, I really try not to sleep in too much, even if I work a really late shift-


What time do you wake up at?


I’m around about 10:00. That’s like my ideal. 10:30, maybe 11:00. It really depends on the night before. I do really try to hit yoga. I’m averaging probably three to four on an intense week. Sometimes I hit more, just because I want to. I really use yoga as a time to refocus and just do something for myself. Then it’s off to work. Again, if you have R&D or if you have something you’re working on. I try to have maybe an hour before I actually start my shift to eat and sit down and map my week out, or whatever it is. I get things on paper if I need to, and then I do a shift. If I do a shift, you’re usually on for about eight to 10 hours. By the time I’m done, I’m probably pretty sleepy.


So a shift is usually 8 to 10 hours. That means, you’re getting out of work at what time?


The Parlor will close at 2:00 AM. It depends if you’re either on the open shift or the closing shift. The latest I’ll ever get out there is 3:00. It’s not crazy-crazy late, but that’s kind of, my days do fluctuate because of that. With Chareau, I try to at least have one day completely off of everything, but I also, I really try to hit the accounts where I can. There are days that I do have to completely dedicate to Chareau and what that needs.


When you say, “Hit accounts,” you’re going to different establishments, or?


Yeah. Just as a part-time brand ambassador within New York City, it’s really focused on maintaining accounts and just being a presence. That’s why I said it’s been really beneficial to me to be able to meet a whole bunch of people, go to these bars I wouldn’t usually go to, these restaurants I usually wouldn’t go to, and then make connections and make relationships with bars and bartenders especially. It works great to have both Chareau and Dead Rabbit, because I visit Chareau accounts, and I say, “Hey, I’m also a bartender. I actually work at Dead Rabbit.” That sells itself. They’re like, “Oh, cool. That’s so amazing.” Then I also so, “Well, come see me and come see the bar.” It works both ways. Yeah.


One feeds into the other?


Absolutely. Totally.


That’s awesome. In a way, it’s kind of like a dream set-up, right? You’re working at a great bar. You have a great brand ambassador gig on the side. Yeah, it’s a great set-up, but a lot of folks who are just starting, I imagine a lot of this is, it’d be pretty overwhelming. They’d just have no idea where to start. I’m wondering what advice you might offer someone who’s just getting started, whether it’s bartending, or the industry, or … What would you say to that person who’s just like, they want to be where you at, they want the brand ambassador role, they want to work at a great bar in the world? What would you say?


Well, I think one of the biggest things that I ever did when I first started bartending was I made it my lifestyle in a way that I integrated my job with my interest and what I would spend my time doing, with my free time. Even just when I started, if I had time on the side, I’d be, again, attending any sort of seminar, or tasting, or whatever it is. Reading, spending the time if I’m on the internet trolling or whatever it is that we all do on the internet and on our phones. I am actually reading, still reading up a lot on the industry and what’s happening. I’ve always been very involved in my community. I’ve always been curious about other communities. I look out at bigger markets. I’ve always looked out and just seeing what other people are doing. Again, I just make it a part of my every day.


It can be overwhelming, but then that’s why I do something like yoga to just take myself out of it for an hour, so I don’t think about it. Then I come back into it, but at this point and my career where most of my friends are bartenders, or brand ambassadors, or are in the industry. My personal romantic relationship is with someone who’s also a bartender. It’s all around me all the time. I would say if you’re just starting out, and you want to get to this level, it’s purely just working at it all the time. It’s diligence, and it’s patience, and a lot of it is humility. I’ve been so fortunate to meet really great people, but it’s also just because I’ve shown that I’m keen, and I’m also just kind. I just remain grounded. Sometimes I still feel so tiny and so little and still a baby in New York City.


Then I remember, “Holy shit, where am I?” Like, “This is crazy.” I still wake up all the time like, “This is wild. I can’t believe this is my life.” But, I mean, if you just keep going, just keep going at it. The greatest thing about the bar industry is that it’s so social. There’s so many resources for you out there. Whether it be your bar mentor at your own bar that you’re working at, or their mentor, or the people that they know. It’s just so connected and there’s such a network. If you really, really take advantage of it, you have so many opportunities ahead of you. Everyone’s always looking for someone who’s excited and wants this-


For sure, yeah.


Those are the people who get the most rewarded in this industry is those who really, really want it.


You said you read a lot. Do you have a most-recommended book, or books?


I would admit that I’m not the best drinks creator at Dead Rabbit. I’ve been able to execute menus before, but I think just at the level that we aim for Dead Rabbit cocktails is so high. It’s a totally new world for me. For me, the things I’ve been reading lately are way more, they pertain way more to food and flavor pairings, just because I’m really trying to work with that right now. One of our things that we use the most is The Flavor Bible. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, because it has way more, the ingredients we’ve been using. Reading more on, actually, the science of flavor pairings and why it actually works together.


Then I actually like reading chef-written books too, just to kind of understand where that is. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve been reading lately. In terms of actual cocktail books that I’ve found, have been good, I mean, there are a lot of really good ones right now. Not to like, a shameless promo, but the Dead Rabbit books are awesome. I remember when I first read the Drinks Manual by Sean and Jack, I remember thinking, “Who are these people?” Especially Sean’s story is incredible. You’re just in awe of how this person came to be where he is now, and now I see him every day. It’s like–


It’s pretty wild. The book itself is super fascinating. You just see how they, it’s like, “Yeah. It makes sense. This is how you create one of the best bars in the world.” Now we have a new book, Mixology & Mayhem, which really delves into the R&D process that we do at Dead Rabbit, and our bar set-ups, and why the Parlor is the way it is. It’s so interesting. I think that if you are, especially if you’re a bar owner and you want to take it to the next level, reading that book is, it’s so cool, because you really get it.


Is there one or two big takeaways from that book that come top of mind? Something for that bar owner who wants to take it to the next level?


I think one big thing is quality, is just actually your quality. We do go into a lot of the recipes that have been featured in menus, but also just showing, “This is the prep that goes into this.” It even highlights, “This is the back-of-house of the cocktail making. This is our prep guide. This is our juicer.” It just shows really the behind the scenes. I think the biggest takeaway is just that, is just knowing it’s not … It’s such a big picture. It’s everything that encompasses the experience at Dead Rabbit. There’s so many little details that you just don’t even know exist until you really read the book.


That’s awesome. Yeah. I’d like to take a little bit of a different direction. We hear all the time about longevity in the industry. You’re a testament to the fact that a person can have a good, long, healthy career. I’d love to hear a bit about what contributes to that longevity for you. A bit about why you stay in the game, what keeps you going, and ultimately what you love the most about bartending that just, yeah, that keeps you ticking.


Totally. I mean, I feel like every year probably I have a new goal and I set a new goal. I feel like maybe I don’t achieve all of them, but I definitely come close and/or achieve it in a different way. Ask me seven years ago, “Would I ever think I’d be in a senior bartender role at Dead Rabbit?” Of course not. Of course not. I would have had no idea even if I would still be bartending, but every year changes. You meet new people. You go to different bars. You have totally different experiences. It grows with each coming year. For me, this time last year, I just wanted to … When I started at Dead Rabbit, I had to serve. You can’t just come into a bar position right away at a bar like that.


I was serving, and I was frustrated, and I wanted to bartend. I just kept making that my goal. Then, of course, it happened. Now, okay, “Well, what’s the next goal?” I want to bartend, but I want to take it to the next level. I got a brand job that really helped. Dead Rabbit has been so good to me, and I’m only moving up, and I’m only doing better, and I’m only just really claiming it as my own. Then, again, you think, “Well, what’s next?” For me, I love New York and I love being in it. I think the community’s crazy. I don’t know, I feel like it always evolves and that’s why I like the industry and I like the people in it is because they’re always doing new things. I feel like the more involved you get in the community, the more you kind of see that you can have an impact and you can actually influence. I did Most Imaginative Bartender last year. I didn’t win, but I came really close.


But even that, it’s like it did so much for my career. It actually got my name out to a lot of people that, I have no idea how I would have ever been able to come into contact with them. It’s definitely helped me. To know that there are people out there who look up to someone like me, or hear that, “Oh, my god. She came from Canada and a smaller city. All of a sudden, now she’s at Dead Rabbit.” That means a lot to me. Hearing that from other people means a lot. That also keeps me going is, okay, well, it was … Of course, it was worth it if I also help other people realize that it’s not impossible. I have this conversation all the time with people who sit at the bar. They’re like, “How?” It’s not impossible. You just got to do it. Just make it happen.


Totally. Sort of on the flip side of that, of something that continuously fuels you. What do you find most challenging? What are the hardships that are there? Would you be able to speak to that a bit?


Totally. I mean, I think one of the biggest ones for me, I’m turning 30 in two weeks. I think about, “Okay, where do I want this to really go?” I’m very open in that. I really feel like, again, doors just keep opening. I do feel confident that I will figure out my next big move if it is … Eventually I will want to come off the bar. Everyone does eventually. I want to have a family, and I want to be a very present mother. That was my life goal. To make that happen is to take a step away from the bar, and to figure out a new set-up. That’s a challenge. Especially right now, I’m finding so much success in my career right now. It just keeps coming. I’m so happy and so grateful. I feel like I deserve it. I’m like, “Yes, this is happening,” but on the flip side of that is like, “Well, how much more do I want? When am I going to say that this is enough and now it’s time to settle down and start a family?”


That’s my own personal struggle. I think on the flip side of that as well, just on the lighter side is burning yourself out. I take so many projects all the time. It’s because I’m thirsty, and I’m hungry, and I want it. Especially in New York, you got to hustle. You got to hustle. Being able to say, “No.” I think a lot of people say to test this. Just being able to say, “No,” is so hard. I’m only starting to realize that. This year, I’m not going to be doing Most Imaginative Bartender, because I just have too much on my plate. I also don’t feel like it’s the right move for me right now. Yeah, definitely. Real life comes, like not real life, but life-life and taking care of yourself. Then remembering your value and stuff, I think, is the biggest.


Yeah, for sure. What do you think’s missing from our industry? What do you want to see more of?


I will say, I do feel like the industry’s going in a really great direction in terms of wellness and promoting bartenders to be more healthy and more balanced. I mean, we talk about this all the time, work-life balance, which is amazing. I really, really do think it’s going in the right direction. I also think it’s really amazing that bartenders are using a platform of the industry and the power that it has to do better things. Whether it be searching for equality, or just even getting hard conversations out there and topics out there to really be embraced and talked about is really cool. I love it. In terms of what I think needs to maybe change or develop is, this is a little bit more on where in my world and what affects me is, I guess, just the whole recognition thing.


I think it’s really cool that awards are given out and lists are given out of the top bars. People are getting recognized and awarded all the time. I think that’s amazing. I think that it is really, it helps your career for sure, but I think the pressure on it is a little bit too much. I think people can take it too seriously. I think people can just be very devastated if it doesn’t happen. I’ll even say myself not winning MIB last year, it crushed me, but I had to remember and realize that it’s like that wasn’t, that’s not the end, you know what I mean? I wanted it so bad because I wanted to prove myself and make it like, “Yes, I did this. I came out and I won,” but at the end of the day, I realized like, “It’s not, that’s not the have-all, be-all. There’s a new winner the next year.”


These competitions can just get so intense. You just get so invested into them. Then when you don’t win, it’s just like … I just feel like you need to really take the pressure off. Then also just see the benefits of just participating in general. You’re getting out there, you’re doing it. It’s not in vain that you didn’t win. I don’t know. Especially the pressure on just bars winning awards, too. I’ve got so many people who come into Dead Rabbit and they’re like, “Oh, so you’re not number one anymore?” It’s just like, “Shut up.” It’s not about that. It’s about your experience here and about us giving you the best experience we can. If you want to judge us based on a list, that’s your own thing, but try to just view us as a bar and as a place you come. If you like it, you like it, then awesome.


Yeah. You mentioned wellness and all that stuff. This is actually kind of a side bar, but I’m curious about what you put on your feet. What’s shoes do you wear when you’re tending bar?


There’s someone who’s going to kill me for saying this, because she already gave me so much shit about wearing them, but I wear Danskos. They’re like hard clogs. I like them because they have a little bit of a heel to them, because I am pretty tiny. They’re durable. I’ve worn them since I started. They’re so durable. I do also have a second pair of Crocs.


Crocs are very comfortable. They don’t quite have the lift, but behind Dead Rabbit, we all wear different shoes. Some of the bartenders wear Docs. Shout-out to Will Pasternak at BlackTail who just loves his Crocs. They’re very colorful, designer. But, yeah. I wear clogs.


Dansko? Why does your colleague give you shit for it?


Well, it’s not my colleague. There is a lovely lady who back in the San Antonio Cocktail Conference two years ago, I want to say. She gave us a body check-in seminar. Like, “You shouldn’t be scooping ice like this, because it’s bad for you,” or like, “You need to take care of the way that you’re aligned.” It was awesome, but one thing she did, she looked at my feet and she was like, “What are you wearing?” She’s like, “Danskos are terrible.” She was just saying they don’t move with your foot, so your arches get lazy. I was like, “Oh, okay,” but then I kept wearing them.


Did she suggest something else, or…?


Just anything that’s comfortable with a back. It has to have a back behind your heel. Then movement. It just needs to have movement. Obviously, yeah, you need something very comfortable, but also for me, it’s just structure. I like to be supported, but I hope she doesn’t see this.


Just a couple more questions. A lot of people are really curious about earnings in different cities and different bars. I’m wondering to what extent you’d be comfortable with sharing any numbers around earnings of, whether it’s you or people around you, or just your demographic in New York City and cocktail bars. Yeah, anything like that you-


Yeah. I mean, New York City is awesome. You can make a lot of money here. I will say, though, that in all honesty, working in the cocktail parlor at The Dead Rabbit, yes, we still, I mean, we still make money. Definitely the most money I’ve ever made bartending in any of my jobs, but if you were to compare what we make in the Parlor to, say, a more high-volume bar in New York, you just can’t. I would say what we make is what you would make serving in a restaurant. Two to 300, in that area, per night in tips.


That’s USD?



I would say that’s a good, yeah. I feel like most servers in nice restaurants will make about the same, but when you’re talking high-volume bars. If you’re working in the Taproom at The Dead Rabbit, you’re making cash. But I mean, it’s just, it’s the difference of the type of bartending you’re doing, right? They’re pumping it out and those girls are running. In the Parlor, we do provide a totally different experience where we do … It’s definitely more paced. It’s catered to you. It’s completely so methodical, which is awesome. We definitely work at the Parlor for the love of it. Yeah, of course we need money to live, but it is definitely, it’s passionate bartenders who want to be working in that style of service.


So it’s clear for those listening, the Parlor is the cocktail bar, right?


Yeah. The Dead Rabbit is comprised of two, well, three levels. The third floor is a private event space, but the second floor is the cocktail parlor. Just recently, we opened up an extension to it. We opened basically a second room to the Parlor three nights of the week, which really helps. It kind of alleviates that wait time, but yeah. The second floor is just the cocktail parlor. That’s where you’ll find all the super elaborate cocktails and just like all the cheater bottles and all this crazy bar set-up. Then the first floor is the Taproom, which is awesome. It’s kind of like your idea of an Irish pub where beer’s on draft.

Still really great cocktail program, but made to execute faster and made for efficiency, and just a totally different vibe, right? It’s way more casual. You come and you go. It’s awesome. It’s fun. It’s where I hang out, but they also have an extension room. It’s quite massive. Dead Rabbit’s pretty massive right now, technically houses five bars in its entirety. But, yeah. That’s the biggest difference. That’s why there is a difference of your hours, the kind of bartending you’re doing, and then also the money.


What would you say is the one ting that, because I imagine Dead Rabbit’s a really efficient bar. I’m wondering if you could speak to the one thing, the one or two things that Dead Rabbit does differently from other bars that just makes it more enjoyable to work at, more efficient, more optimized. Anything like that.


Totally. I think one of the greatest things is, yes. So much thought has been put into our technique, and our set-up, and the way we approach R&D, and the way we approach just the whole experience of the Parlor. Even in the Taproom, with the extension, we were able to kind of basically build that bar out to be a little bit more like the Parlor, so it is quite efficient. It’s set up beautifully. An example is for the stations that I work in the Parlor, the way that the bar’s set up is purely just for body movement. You’re really trying to not work in an inefficient way or that’s bad to your body. More or less, I’m always moving side to side rather than twerking around. Everything’s just always straight. It’s set up the way it should be. We work with a lot of cheater bottles, so that being basically pouring any of our syrups, juices, spirits, liqueurs into smaller bottles to–


What cheater bottles do you guys use?


We just use these, I don’t know, little 250 ml bottles. They’re all the same, so they all just line up on the rail of the bar. That’s our mise-en-place. We use so many ingredients that you have to use cheaters, and you have to have it readily accessible to you. Our tools are hung. Our tools are placed in certain areas where it’s easier to grab them, easier to get them. It’s so thought-out, and it’s such a school of thought now that it’s, that’s just the way we approach everything. Even if, for example, if we were flipping the menu.

Yes, it takes us some time to get used to where everything is, but because we understand the whole method that goes behind setting that bar, we understand it way more. You’re more or less working on muscle memory rather than, “Oh, where would I get this syrup? Where would I get that?” People always ask with the cheater bottles, “Do you know what these are? Are they labeled?” I was like, “First, yeah. They’re labeled, because we’re not stupid.” If they weren’t labeled, we’d be sitting there being like, “Oh, my god. Did we switch up these two dark amaros?” Of course, they’re labeled.


Do you guys use a label maker?


Yeah. Yeah, a label maker, but over time, you get to know exactly where these bottles are without looking. That’s the efficiency of it, right? It’s always in the same place. You should always be grabbing it and that’s what it should be. I think it’s a fun, really fun bar to work at. You’re always thinking in your mind, “What’s the best way to do this ticket? What’s the best way to make this round?” It’s never boring. A shift is never boring. It’s always really geeky and cool. I love talking about it too, because I just think it’s the coolest.


That’s awesome. Okay, just one last thing. What’s your favorite tool and why? Do you have a specific tool that you love?


I have always loved bar spoons.




I’ve dabbled in the weird, decorative ones and all the crazy, cool designs of bar tools, or bar spoons, but my favorite always just comes down to a regular teardrop, that medium size. I love that spoon. It’s just so useful. I mean, I’ve always had this thing where Simon, when I first started working for him, made me stir water and ice for an hour until I got my perfect stir right. That’s always a massive joke, but I do actually love stirring cocktails. I just love having to have the accuracy and the touch on it of knowing when something’s actually … Obviously, you’re tasting too, but just knowing when something’s perfect the way it should be. But also, from working at Dead Rabbit, I have really loved working with an ice tapper.


To mold the ice?


The ice tapper to break cubes. So, smack it and it just cracks the cubes that we use [crosstalk 00:37:07] so, it just cracks it. We use that for jump-starting stirred-up cocktails. We just get our smaller bits of ice and then you top it with a cold draft, and then you’re kind of using that to jump-start. Then also because we use large format blocks that we break down for cocktails, I love that. I’ve never really worked with an elaborate ice program such as Dead Rabbit’s, so it’s really fun.


Do you guys get ice delivered to you?


Yes. We do get big blocks delivered to us, but we did very recently acquire our own machines that we will be using, and we actually will be trained on.


Is it a Clinebell?




Yeah? That’s sick! Wait, I have one more question.




Do you think you have a Sam Casuga sort of secret power that sets you apart? I know you mentioned you work hard, you’re diligent, all those things, but is there something that’s kind of like your hidden weapon?


Yeah. I do. I actually do think that being kind. At the end of the day, I’m just, I don’t want to say I try to be kind. I mean, you do kind of have to try sometimes with some people, but I just try to be pleasant to be around, and kind, and caring. Just being a good energy around people. I think that has always set me apart, and it’s always been something that people I’ve worked for have said something about. That’s the kind of person I want to be remembered-




… to be like, “Oh, I worked with Sam Casuga. She was so kind.” Especially, I’m very aware that the position I hold, not only at Dead Rabbit, but in our whole bartending community. It’s like, I’m very grateful for it, but I’m also very aware that I hold a position where I do have people who look up to me and want to talk to me about things, or want to get advice. Just being kind, and humble, and giving them the time, and being that person for them. I take that very seriously. I feel like I’ve been mentored before. I’m so grateful for it. Simon’s somewhat a mentor to this day, but just I really feel that kindness, and humility, and actually giving time to people is very important.


For sure. I think you’re definitely a model of all of that, so well done.




Okay, well, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time.


I’m so excited.


By thenimblebar

This Cocktail Garnish is Saving Time, Money – and the Planet

7 reasons why dehydrated cocktail garnishes are awesome

We’re always looking for better ways of doing things. Every step we can take – no matter how small – to make things simpler, more efficient, more beautiful, etc., has a compound effect on our profitability and joy.


If you’ve ever been in the middle of a 10 cocktail rush, and thought to yourself “F*&#, I really wish I didn’t have to cut this lime wheel right now,” or “Gee whiz, this an inconvenient time for me to be making an apple fan” that’s because the smarter version of yourself was screaming at you: “this is inefficient — there’s a better way!”


Well, it’s time for this tom-foolery to stop, and for you to listen to that smarter version of yourself. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes are part of the answer, and here’s why… 



  1. They save you the time of having to cut / prepare a cocktail garnish a la minute



That’s right, instead of cutting and peeling (often adding an extra 10-20 seconds to your chit time), you get to reach, grab, and elegantly place on top.


Over the long run, that’s enough extra time to turn a busy shift from Un-Happy Hour into a relaxed and controlled experience for yourself, and your customers.


You’ll have freed up time that you can then use to keep conversations going, help out your teammates, and generally look like a pro.



2. They reduce waste by ensuring that every part of the fruit gets used (particularly in the case of citrus)



Let’s use lime and lemon wheels, for example…


Many of the bartenders I’ve seen waste a good chunk of the fruit on either side of their citrus wheels. While the fruit wastage adds up over a shift, each individual piece isn’t quite big enough to juice, or to turn into another garnish.


Even if they do intend to save it for juicing later, it usually ends up in the compost.


It’s not laziness – it’s just the path of least resistance. We all take it, it’s in our nature.


Dehydrated garnishes are a way of providing a positive path of least resistance, while also eliminating waste.


I’ve never seen anyone eliminate waste entirely from their bar, but having garnishes that you can prep ahead of time, and not have to ditch at the end of a shift, goes a very long way.



3. They look beautiful 



Ever heard the expression ‘people drink with their eyes’? It’s true – the better your drinks look, the more your customers will enjoy them. 


Again, using citrus as an example, the dehydration process darkens the fruit itself quite significantly. This can provide a dramatic, intriguing contrast against your drinks, allowing you to play with really interesting colour combinations – think foams, or darkly coloured combinations of liquids.


4. You can dehydrate, well, anything as a cocktail garnish



So let your creativity go wild! For example, in our Taste of Canada Cocktail Masterclass, one of our current drinks features dehydrated beef (aka beef jerky):



It’s a great way to get yourself, or your teammates, excited – especially if you’ve been pumping out the same drinks list for a while. Grabbing a bunch of dehydrated garnishes and throwing some ideas around the bar can really reinvigorate a team, and bring them closer together.


After all, variety is the spice of life – so spice it up! (Did someone just say ‘dehydrated chilis’…?)



5. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes last a very long time



Prepping garnishes ahead of a shift is a no-brainer for saving time – but can you nail down the exact amount you’re going to use, every time? If so, you’re basically Nostradamus. 


There are two outcomes when you pre-prep your garnishes: you underestimate, and get caught short-handed – usually in the middle of the unexpected rush that caused you to underestimate in the first place.


Or, you overestimate – and either end up with soggy (or dried out) citrus in your customer’s glass, and/or a compost full of expensive fruit. It’s not just the fruit itself – it’s the labour that went into cutting, storing, and tossing it.


Dehydrating your garnishes means they become a lot more shelf stable.They won’t last forever, but they DO give you a much wider margin for error when you’re trying to forecast your sales, and prep accordingly.  



6. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes let you control cost-per-garnish



Good bartenders are pretty darned close to perfect humans – but we’re still not machines. One person’s cuts are inevitably thicker or thinner than the next. That makes it next to impossible to accurately assign a cost-per-garnish amount to your finished drinks. 


When you buy dehydrated garnishes, if they’re not ‘by the piece’ then the containers usually come with an ‘average contents’ statement – both will give you the ability to nail down your per-unit costing, and manage your inventory with ease. 



7. Dehydrated citrus holds aromatics more effectively 



When you strip the water out of anything, it usually intensifies the remaining ingredients. Garnishes are no different. 


We’re talking about aromas, mostly – we’ve found that in terms of flavour, they don’t offer much of a boost. But the increased aromas that they impart can be used to a bartender’s advantage. (And they are still completely edible, just in case an overenthusiastic patron decides to mow down on one.)


For the real pros, you can also rest assured that a customer won’t squeeze a wheel or wedge of lemon or lime into their cocktail, throwing out the balance you’ve worked so hard to create.


Dehydrated garnishes have a ton of benefits – with a really wide range of applications. There’s so much to learn about which fruits and vegetables you can dehydrate, and the best ways to use them. If your curiosity has been piqued, come check out Nimble Bar School – we’ll up your bar game, whether you’re a home enthusiast or aspiring professional.

New Student in Bartending School

By thenimblebar

Bartending School: Should You Sign Up?

Before you decide whether bartending school is for you, ask yourself these important questions.

If you’re researching bartending schools, you’ll likely find that there are a lot of opinions out there about whether or not they are worthwhile.


Here are 3 great articles that most soundly make the argument to not go:


  1. Bartending School Scams: The Facts They Don’t Want You To Know
  2. Ask Your Bartender: Bartending Schools
  3. Should Aspiring Bartenders Go To Bartending School?


Go ahead and read those, and then let’s talk about why bartending school may – or may not – be a good fit for you.


While the above articles persuasively make their cases, they’re still ‘opinion pieces’ that look at the argument through a single lens — the lens of the writer.


This of course doesn’t represent reality – or you.


When it comes down to it, bartending school isn’t for everyone. But, depending on your personal situation, it might be a perfect fit for you.


One caveat before moving forward: many bartending schools are to be avoided. It’s actually the reason we created the Nimble Bar School. This article assumes that you’re considering a high-quality bartending school.


Like anything in life, it all comes down to the lens through which you see bartending – how will it fit into your life? In other words: we need to consider its context.


We get a ton of different inquiries from a wide range of people all looking at the same situation, but in a different context. The following questions are the ones that come up most frequently, and how we recommend moving forward.


Again – it all depends on your particular lens.


Lens #1: I desperately need a job and bartending school will help me get it.

Should you go to bartending school? No.


Go read this article, apply the lessons, and simply get a job. You don’t need bartending school to get a job – you just need a bit of strategy and persistence. 


Bartending school is for people who want to raise the bar (see what I did there?) in their profession. People who want to achieve a level of greatness that elevates them above the average.


At the Nimble Bar School, we ask our candidates if they seek to be excellent bartenders. We do this because of two universal truths:


  1. The way you show up to do one thing is how you show up to do all things
  2. The pursuit of excellence is what leads to fulfillment


If you just want a place to show up to that pays you enough to get by then ‘no’ – bartending school won’t get you any closer to your goals.


Lens #2: I’m already a bartender and I want to improve.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.


A professionally-run bartending school will have instructors who have made it to the ‘next level’ of their craft. While they can definitely get a new bartender off to the races, the nuanced skills they can pass along will help elevate even very experienced bartenders to a high-performance level.


(It’s important that you let the bartending school know about your goals and experience before you sign up. Not all schools have the same programs – some focus on fundamentals, which may leave you retreading steps you’ve already learned. That’s not good for you or for your instructors.)


Lens #3: I’m a home bartender and want to improve.

Should you go to bartending school? Well, why not…?


If bartending is strictly a hobby for you, why not go somewhere that you can rub shoulders with other enthusiastic home bartenders? You know how fun it is to get a group of friends together and wow them with pro techniques and tips – imagine being in a room full of people who love doing the same thing.


It’s a great way to up your game with some healthy competition, and there’s a high chance you’ll find people – ie, ‘future friends’ – who share your interests and enthusiasm.


Lens #4: I have long-term financial goals, and I see bartending as a fun way to help me reach those goals.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.


Focus goes a long way. If you have set financial goals in mind, bartending can be a great way to help you realize them – and if you learn the craft well, it can get you there quickly.


Fast-track your learning by getting one-on-one professional coaching. You could save a little money by starting at the bottom, and working your way up. But if you want to achieve your goals fast, a good bartending school is the way to go.


Remember: if you add just one bartending shift a week to your work-life, that’s an average of an extra $220.00 per week (or $11,440 per year). If you save and invested that for 4 years, you’d have approximately $50,000.00 saved — more than enough for a down payment on a house, startup capital, debt repayment, etc.


Lens #5: I’m already a student and I would like to bartend my way through school.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes


This is ‘probably’ a yes – unless you just want to cash a paycheck and not think too much about what you have to do to get it.


BUT – it’s ‘definitely’ a yes, if…


  • You’re drawn to the culture of bartending
  • You can see yourself enjoyably bartending for a number of years
  • You’re ready to apply yourself to bartending with as much drive and energy as your other studies.


The only reason why bartending school – and bartending in general – wouldn’t be a great fit for you, is if you already feel like it’s just ‘a means to an end.’ If you consider your role as a bartender ‘just a job’ you’ll get by cashing a paycheck and going through the motions, but if you want to really excel, you’ll need to be driven by more than just covering your bills.


If you’re a student, you already understand that sometimes you need to invest in yourself to make long-term gains. That same mentality makes you a perfect fit for a bartending school.


Lens #6: I’d like to go to bartending school to see if bartending is for me.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.


Do you have what it takes to work the pine, as a pro? There are a few ways to find out. But some are more awkward than others.


Having an instructor offer personal and immediate feedback is a rapid-fire way to test yourself, and your skills, in a safer environment than the heat of the battle (like 7pm on a Friday with the lineup out the door.) You’ll get honest feedback without pissing off your employer, co-workers or guests.


Lens #7: Just by showing up to bartending school, I will automatically be a great bartender.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes, but not so fast…


You’ll learn a lot, and up your bartending game – and yes, there’s a chance you’ll develop the skills to become a great barkeep. But remember: a chance isn’t a guarantee. Even the best bartenders have honed their craft over time. And there’s nothing automatic about that.


On the flipside, if you do have the desire to be a great bartender, you’re already part of the way to becoming one. A professional instructor will be able to answer that burning question for you: Do I have what it takes to be one of the greats? You might end up surprising yourself with what you can accomplish in a short time.


Lens #8: Bartending school will entitle me to better jobs.

Should you go to bartending school? No.


Can bartending school prepare you for better jobs? Absolutely. Does it entitle you to better jobs? That’s a hard ‘no.’


Even the best of the best know, if you want to get ahead in the bartending world, you’ll need to check your ego. Not forget who you are, or hide your true personality – but the idea that you deserve something just for putting in a few hours and handing over a few bucks – that’s a bit of a stretch.


If you’re willing to use the tools given to you during your bartending course, to further your skills and improve your technique, then over time you’re far more likely to get your dream bartending gig – because you will have earned it. A great bartending school will put you on the right path, right out of the gate.


After you’ve decided which lens best describes your expectations of a bartending school, you can safely make up your mind about whether or not it’s going to be your best course of action.


(Spoiler alert: not all bartending schools are created equal. In fact, we only recommend two in the world: Nimble Bar School and European Bartender School)

By Nimble Bar Company

The Nightcall Negroni

The Nightcall Negroni

First, make sure to source your ingredients using human power. Don’t you dare drive to the store. Walk, run, or bike, only, please. Second, only purchase the freshest, most organically organic ingredients possible. Third, mix your drink in the rays of the sun on a peaceful green.


Shake over ice, serve neat. Garnish with cucumber and celery leaf.

Liked this video? Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube and share! And check out our other custom cocktail recipes.

By thenimblebar

The Hidden Benefits of Cocktail Making Classes

9 reasons why cocktail making classes will give you more confidence, boost your social skills, and help you become a culinary genius


There’s no question that the ability to make a great drink is a seductive quality. Look no further than the likes of Don Draper and Ryan Gosling to see that making a great drink is a worthy pursuit.



Even James Bond and the iconic Vesper martini cocktail has massive sex appeal (and he didn’t even make it, he just knew what he wanted).


Want to take a deep dive in the Martini cocktail? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Martinis.


And if all you could get out of making a great drink was to win the affection of your partner’s father, or someone you’re courting, that’d be pretty great, wouldn’t it?


But in this article, we’re going to share the 9 hidden benefits of cocktail making classes and what they can do for you…


  1. Cocktail making classes help you gain more confidence


There’s something about being able to make a damn tasty drink and confidently put it in front of someone that really puts a bit of a spring in your step.


Think about what most people do — they play around with some ingredients, hope for the best, and tentatively slide it in front of you with a pleading look in their eyes that says “please like it, please like it, please like it.”


And maybe that’s you, too. But after taking a cocktail making class, you’ll know that you’re putting a super-tasty, balanced and technically-perfect experience in front of them.


You’ll dish-out Maple Bourbon Sours with the authority and confidence of Thor himself wielding the mighty Mjolnir!



2. Develop your palate so that you can identify flavours that others cannot


Spirits and cocktails give us a fascinating lens through which we can look at history, geography, myths and legends…


But most folks don’t know about all that stuff…It’s kinda like each bottle is ‘locked’ and you’ll need a key to make it come to life – and create an experience that’s richer than just the drink itself.


If you can be the person who can reveal these wonders to your friends and family, you’ll help them see something they couldn’t before, and that’s pretty cool.


Cocktail making classes help you to understand the history behind spirits – the traditions that have influenced these drinks, shaping them into what we know today. There’s usually a lot more to them than just how their flavours pair together.


3. Get new ideas so that you can ‘wow’ your pals and lovers


This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but I’m going to go ahead and demonstrate 6 ideas that you could steal from one picture, alone.


Check out these 5 drinks that one of our students, Sarah, helped us make in our Taste of Canada Cocktail Masterclass (they’ve already been sampled, so they aren’t as picture-perfect as they were when they were first made.)

  1. Infuse spirits with fresh and seasonal ingredients to instantly put your own spin on a classic cocktail (this is bing cherry-infused gin.)
  2. Make your own sugar or salt by using a mortar and pestle with dried herbs and botanicals (we’re using douglas grand fir tips, here.)
  3. Experiment with salty ingredients to make something totally unique and savoury (we infused Alberta whisky with Alberta beef jerky.)
  4. There are tons of cool patterns available on paper straws. Use them because they’re environmentally friendly and they add a nice crafty pop to your tall and refreshing cocktails.
  5. Egg white cocktails allow us to play with the weights of different ingredients. Try floating red-wine between the egg white foam on top and the mixed cocktail on the bottom (this is inspired by the New York Sour cocktail.)
  6. Use some pyrotechnics in your cocktails by toasting Angostura bitters in the glass, and then coat the glass with the fiery bitters to give your cocktail a more pronounced warming winter spiced note.


And that’s just from one picture. Imagine how much more you could get from an actual cocktail making class!


4. Meet new people and make new friends


When it comes to meeting new people, you could do what everybody else does and go to networking events.


They’re generally pretty stuffy, and the odds of meeting someone who shares your interests – inside or outside of work – are fairly slim.


You know why a cocktail making class is a great place to meet people?


Because cool people go to cocktail making classes.


People who want to better their skills in a field that has serious street cred. They’re generally highly-motivated, adventurous, FUN people – and who doesn’t want to hang with those kinds of people?  



5. Take a step outside of your comfort zone


It takes courage to step up behind the bar and learn a new skill in front of strangers.


It’s risky — you could totally mess it up, your hands will probably be shaky, your creativity will be put on the spot, and you’ll probably look clumsy and awkward.


And that’s where the magic happens. As the old saying goes: “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.”


You’ll see first-hand just how quickly you can improve – and you’ll be doing it with the support of new friends, who want you to succeed because they’re up next!


Also – when was the last time you tried a new flavour? You’ll get exposed to a bunch of exciting spirits and mixers that you’ve never even tasted – how cool is that? Your new favourite ingredient might be just around the corner.


It just takes a quick trip outside of your comfort zone!


6. Learn how to take a culinary approach to making cocktails, and pair cocktails with food


90% of bars in the world are still making cocktails with mass-produced ingredients, and dated techniques.


The few bars that are applying a culinary approach to their cocktails — sourcing inspiration from the kitchen — are creating mind-opening experiences for their guests.


And you know what’s awesome about that? You can do it easily, too.


As you explore the relationship between culinary approaches and cocktails, you’ll see synergies between the drinks you create and the dishes you serve.


Cocktail making classes will allow you to learn modern, innovative techniques (that can be dead simple to implement), making you look and feel like a culinary genius.


8. Have a date? Woo them with a cocktail making class


We get it. It’s not always easy coming up with the perfect date idea. We’re usually left with the same old tired options — dinner? Drink? Movie?


There’s nothing wrong with those, but they could be greatly enhanced by just one little je ne sais quois put into the mix.


Y’know, like a cocktail making class.


Here are just a few of the reasons cocktail making classes are perfect to add to your date itinerary…


  • Take the pressure off of both of you, while allowing you to actually engage with one another…
  • See how the other interacts in new situations…
  • Gives you both an opportunity to be a little vulnerable (remember the part above about stepping outside your comfort zone?)…
  • Creates a shared, multi-sensory, experience (the more senses that are stimulated, the more powerful the memory)…
  • There are plenty of magic moments of joy. I mean, just look at exuberance of one of our students when stirring a cocktail:
  • What are some other reasons? Let us know in the comments!


9. Have an event? Let your guests shake things up


Events are not unlike dates, but instead of one-on-one, they’re one-to-many.


The relationship between the event host and the guests is very real.


So, just like in the dating game, everyone wants to create a unique, differentiating experience.


Cocktail making classes are a perfect and affordable option to ‘shake it up’ (literally) and give your guests an experience they’ll talk about for years.


Interested in attending or booking a cocktail making class? Contact us today to find out how.


By thenimblebar

How to Become a Bartender that Any Bar in the World Will Hire (+ Free Script for Job Applicants)

Wondering how to become a bartender that anyone will want to hire? Simple. Develop the attitude that the best of the best will always want on their team

If you read our recent article on how to get a bartending job, you probably noticed that all 3 of the bar managers we interviewed unanimously said attitude is the most important quality they look at when considering candidates.


(btw, if you haven’t read that article and you’re looking for actionable strategies to help you become a bartender and land your dream job, go read it now).


Becoming a bartender that any bar in the world will hire is really about one thing:


Becoming the kind of person that any bar in the world will hire.


While that might sound a tad simplistic, continuously working on your attitude and character will transfer to (and enhance) all aspects of your life — and any bar in the world would be dying to have you as a result.


We’ve put together 4 steps that you can take today to do this.  


But first…


Think about why the owner of an establishment would want to hire someone with an amazing attitude. It’s because these people:


  • Attract better regulars (and keep them in their seats)
  • Attract the best team members who want to help the business grow
  • Are great to work with because they’re fun, supportive, and eager
  • Improve the culture of their establishment so that everyone is more aligned, excited, and happy
  • And more…


So, without further ado, these are the 4 ways you can develop your mindset to help you become the bartender (and person) that any bar in the world will hire.


How to Become The Ultimately Employable Bartender: A Simple Guide to Unchain Your Potential

Part 1: Cultivate a growth mindset


In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck uncovers how cultivating a growth mindset can lead to success.


As she describes it, our mindset can strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it”, whether it’s done consciously, or not.


In her book, she asks “what are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?”


An interesting question, especially when put into the context of becoming a bartender. To answer it, start by asking yourself if any of the following sound familiar to you:


  • I like to stick to what I know
  • I haaate being challenged — I know my shit
  • I can’t do much to change my abilities; I’m either good at it, or I’m not


If these feel familiar, then take note: they are all telltale indicators of a fixed mindset. And the problem is that most bar owners are growth-oriented — they want their business and their culture to grow.


So if you find that you generally have a fixed mindset, it’s time to begin adopting some new ways of thinking.



(Bonus: growth mindsets perform extremely well in interview situations. This means that if you have a growth mindset, there’s little preparation you’ll need to do for your interview other than do some research on the establishment, and be yourself. Pretty cool, huh?)


Here are some growth-mindset antidotes to the fixed-mindset examples above:


  • I’m excited to try new things
  • Challenges are great! They help me to grow
  • I can learn to do whatever the heck I want (and to that we add, you can do it to a level of excellence)


Carol Dweck has created a test on her website, if you want to see where your mindset’s at.


And here’s a helpful graphic from Nigel Holmes:

Part 2: Get clear on what you want


“The discipline of desire is the background of character” — John Locke


When you get clear on what the big, juicy desire is that you have in your life, things begin to organize themselves so that you can achieve the things that you’re after.


But there’s a catch:


In our culture, it’s actually very rare for us to be able to articulate what it is we really want — it feels  greedy, or selfish, to talk about those things.


The flip-side?


Thinking big actually inspires others to do the same.


Now you might be wondering, “Okay, but what does this have to do with my question of how to become a better bartender?’


Well, look at it this way:


At The Nimble Bar School, we ask our students to do a goal-setting exercise that acts as a springboard for those who haven’t thought much about what they really want.


It’s important because we teach our students not to think of bartending as means to a small end (like paying the bills), but as part of a powerful arsenal that will help them get to a great big end (like their dream home, career, lifestyle freedom, or something else that’s really worth pursuing).


If you can realize exactly how bartending can fit into your big picture, you’ll be more motivated to see it through to whatever success looks like for you.


Remember: if you add just one bartending shift a week to your work-life, that’s an average of an extra $220.00 per week (or $11,440 per year). If you save and invested that for 4 years, you’d have approximately $50,000.00 saved — more than enough for a down payment on a house, startup capital, debt repayment, etc.


Want to get a head start on your bartending goals? Contact us today and find out how we can help.


Part 3: Develop the muscle of alacrity




That was my initial reaction too. But for anyone wondering how to become a bartender of world-class proportions, alacrity is key.


To explain alacrity (and how it applies to becoming a bartender) let’s take a gander at this classic quote:


“I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

— Abraham Lincoln


‘Honest Abe’ said that when he was 6 months into his presidency.


It sounds kinda like something you’d read in a children’s book, yet it was said by the most powerful person in the world, at the time.


This is what alacrity sounds like. You just keep cheerfully doing the very best you can.


Here’s the definition of alacrity:


Alacrity: promptness of response : cheerful readiness : eager willingness


This is the attitude that got Abraham Lincoln to the White House, and it’s the attitude that gets many others where they want to go in the world.


Here are two practical ways you can effectively apply an attitude of alacrity today:


  1. Practice enthusiasm and cheerfulness using one simple mechanism: smiling

  2. Proactively solve a business problem and present your proposed solutions to someone who will find great relief in your initiative


Want a cool way to demonstrate this proactivity, that could easily land you a bartending gig at your dream bar? Dream up 3 big ideas that will help that bar improve its business, and send one to the owner (without expectation of anything in return).


Here are some word-for-word examples of 3 big ideas:


  1. Your drinks are AMAZING. I’m wondering how many hours per week are spent prepping all the ingredients that go into those drinks? In a bar I’ve worked at previously, we delegated our prep to the kitchen team – it saved tons of hours of labour, and produced even better ingredients.
  2. You have a super impressive/expansive back bar. Lots of inventory! I imagine it could be quite challenging for new staff to learn about. Have you thought about cataloguing some of the top selling spirits from each category with evocative descriptors that will help them sell these products with more confidence (and speed)? I’d be happy to help.
  3. Your cocktail presentations are OUTSTANDING. In my experience, taking a culinary approach to cocktails can lead to quite a bit of waste (particularly in the citrus department). Have you experimented with dehydrated garnishes? Some wonderful examples I’ve used are lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, candied ginger, rose buds, and more. They look beautiful, last forever, and the best part? Waaay less waste. If you’d like me to source some dehydrated garnishes for you to test, let me know.


If you want to see a word-for-word script of a successful email that I sent to a bar owner, get free instant access here.


You could, over time, even send 3 separate emails with each idea. I assure you that if you do this a few times, you will get your foot in the door.


(I believe in this tactic so much that I’ll offer you a guarantee: if you try this and don’t see success, send me an email and I’ll personally help you).


Part 4: Be other-focused (aka lose your ego)


This one is simple, but not easy.


Thing is, it’s absolutely essential to get right if you want to become a bartender that a-heeeeenyone would want to hire.


Why, you ask? Put simply: working in the service industry means you gotta prioritise those you’re serving (err… duh). 


Hey, we know as well as anyone who’s worked behind the wood that it’s easy to succumb to emotional reactions when a customer complains their drink “isn’t strong enough” (or whatever it may be in a given scenario.) But there’s a big difference between standing your ground when necessary, and overreacting when your ego feels threatened.


Training your ego to take a back seat is a sure-fire way to put you on track to becoming a stellar bartender (and an awesome person to work alongside, too).


There are two specific ways you can practice the art of losing your ego:


  1. Think about what you can give, instead of what’s in it for you


When cultivating the traits needed to help you become an awesome bartender, you should always be thinking about what you can do for the establishment and the people who work there.


Start by asking yourself questions like:


‘How can I enrich their lives?’ and ‘what can I give them?’


This circles back to our earlier point about scoping out ways to improve the business (remember our examples about inventory, dehydrated stock, and getting prep support from the kitchen? If not, refresh your memory up above!).


Always be on the lookout for ways you can create value for your team. Because doing this well makes you valuable to them — which will end up far better for you in the long run than simply prioritizing your short term gains.


2. Think about how you can listen more


Most folks think bartenders are talkers, but a seriously good bartender is one who has mastered the art of listening.


As Ryan Holiday — master of ego-squashing — so eloquently put it:


“And that’s what is so insidious about talk. Anyone can talk about himself or herself. Even a child knows how to gossip and chatter. Most people are decent at hype and sales. So what is scarce and rare? Silence. The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.”


Yep, the old adage that silence is golden is as relevant behind the bar as it is anywhere else.


And you know what?


It’s not only the silence that’s golden, but also the space you create for your customers to do the talking. After all, what’s better than a good chit-chat to unload the stresses of the day? It’ll make your patrons feel at home, at ease, and excited to come back to see you again.


The best bars in the world will be proud to have you representing them – if you remember to practice these skills:


  1. Develop your ‘growth-mindset.’
  2. Be clear with yourself about your goals.
  3. Remember: Alacrity.
  4. Ditch the ego.


These are the differences between a decent bartender, and a Master of their Craft. Which side of that equation do you fall on? It’s your call – and it’s never too late to switch sides.


How to get a bartending job

By thenimblebar

How to get a job as a bartender (even if you have no skills, knowledge, or experience)

Bar managers explain why they’ve hired new bartenders who had no experience in the past and how you can get hired using this counter-intuitive strategy.


If you read our recent bar terminology 101 blog, you know that we take our bar schooling seriously. But how does one actually get a job as a bartender?


Many would-be bartenders don’t go after their dream bartending job (or even any bartending job) because they don’t feel like they have the right experience. That’s the wrong reason to pass up your dream gig, and we spoke with 3 bar managers to show you that it IS possible to get a job as a bartender with few bartending skills or credentials.


In fact, if you apply the right mix of the four strategies we’re about to describe, it’s actually very likely that you will get hired with little to no experience.


Want to accelerate your bartending prowess? Learn more about the Nimble Bar School here.


The Four Strategies


  1. The simple 10-bar hitlist strategy

  2. Rapport before resume

  3. Take a supporting role

  4. Persistent follow up

Introducing our expert bar managers


Shawn Soole



Shawn Soole, a 20-year hospitality veteran and award-winning bartender, has managed bars from chain restaurants like Moxie’s to internationally-recognized craft cocktail bars. He’s even opened two of his own successful bars in Victoria, BC.


He currently heads the bar at Victoria, B.C.’s iconic Pagliacci’s Restaurant and is the primary consultant at his hospitality management company, Soole Hospitality Concepts.


Want to become a bartender? Shawn says, “Personality and work ethic trump everything else.”


Simon Ogden



Considered by many in the bartending community to be a sage wizard, there isn’t much that Simon Ogden hasn’t seen in his 30-year bartending and managing tenure.


From being shot at in early 90s nightclubs, to running community-building bartender bootcamps, Simon is an endless source of insight for the bartenders he mentors.


Want to become a bartender? Keep this piece of Simon Wisdom in your back pocket:


“My hiring philosophy could neatly be summed up by ‘hire attitude, train skill,’ really, and to be honest I’ve found bartenders who came in with deeply embedded and intractable opinions on the ‘right’ way to tend bar to be comparatively difficult to work with.”


Brant Porter



As an ambitious youngster in the world of hospitality, Brant knew that he’d have to make some big leaps to get him closer to his goals.


He grew up in his family’s restaurant and already had a lot of the tools he needed to move up fast. But he still had to apply those tools. At age 24, he took on the role of bar manager at Victoria’s esteemed Veneto Cocktail Bar & Tapa Lounge.


Want to become a bartender, Brant says, “making drinks is by far the easiest part of bartending, so attitude is 100%.”


Okay, so now that we know the importance of attitude, we asked these bar managers to help us put together actionable strategies and tactics to help you in your dream bartending job search.


Shawn, Simon, and Brant are going to let us in on how they would get a job if they were starting from scratch with no skills, knowledge, or experience.


Part I: The simple 10-Bar Hitlist Strategy


There’s a very simple reason why the 10 Bar Hitlist Strategy works: it’s the opposite of what 99.9% of people do.


Most people don’t get the bartending job they want because they rely on hope. They use hope as a strategy by popping into a bar or restaurant with a (usually lackluster) resume, strike up a conversation with the manager, and simply hope for the best.



Worse still, they often show up awkwardly at busy times during the day, and so their resume ends up in the trash.


But you’re reading this article, which means you’re a smart cookie. Use this strategy to differentiate yourself and get the bartending job you want.


Step 0: Polish your resume and make it professional.


This article isn’t about resume writing, and you probably wouldn’t read it if it were. But, if you want to work as a bartender, you need to give your resume a little shine. Here’s how…


Make an investment in your resume that will pay for itself in half a bartending shift.


Go to UpWork or Fiverr and find a resume writer who can help you craft a resume that will pack a punch.


If you absolutely can’t afford to spend any money on professional help (you’d better be living in a cardboard box and eating Cup O’ Noodles to convince me you can’t afford the investment), here are two simple ways you can improve your resume on your own:


  1. Ask three people you respect to give you objective feedback on your resume. Even better if they’re hospitality professionals.
  2. Use a resume template. There are tons out there.

Step 1: List your 10 dream bars you’d love to work at.


By simply writing down where you’d like to work, you’re giving yourself a clear framework that will help guide your efforts.


With this list you avoid aimlessly walking into any and every bar that you happen upon, and you give yourself a better chance of ending up with a job you’re really excited about.


Get the same 10 Bar Hitlist Strategy spreadsheet that we give our students


The names of your 10 dream bars


Start by gathering the names of the 10 bars you would most like to work at.


This list might take some time to develop because it requires research. Try to visit the bars you think you’d want to work at. You could simply write down bars you’ve heard of, but you’ll get a much better idea of whether or not you’d want to work at any of them by going in person and experiencing it first hand.


Ask around.


And don’t stop at one bar. A key point of this strategy is that you have several bars you’re going to work on to increase your odds of getting a job. If you don’t know ten different bars, that’s ok. Do some searching (be it online, on foot, or in local magazines and guides) and ask everyone you can. You’ll get there.


When you visit, ask yourself some questions…


  • Do the staff seem happy?
  • Does it seem like there’s a good sense of ‘team’?
  • Does the bar seem well-managed (i.e. is everything under control? Cool, calm, and collected?)
  • Would I be proud to work here?


Take the time to imagine what it would be like to spend an entire 8-10 hour shift working at this bar, with these people.


Step 2: Research each bar in detail.

Research its history and what it’s trying to accomplish.


Simon says that when getting the bartending job you want, it’s important to leave preconceptions about how things are done at the door. That’s why we research.


Every manager and restaurant owner has a vision for the establishment. You can find out what they’re trying to do through visiting their website, observing the ambience of the establishment, or simply striking up a conversation with the staff.


If you can show that you’ve taken the time to learn about an establishment (especially before speaking with the hiring bar manager), you’ll quickly set yourself apart from other candidates.


When you show a manager or owner that you know who they are, why they do what they do, and what makes them unique, you communicate that, for you, they are the only pebble on the beach (they’re the one and only bar you’re willing to work at).


This type of knowledge is also massively helpful because it shows you’re serious about adding value to their establishment and becoming part of something bigger than yourself. Most applicants sound like they’re just looking for a job, any job, and they don’t really care.

An example:


Let’s say I wanted to work at Canon in Seattle (#6 on the World’s 50 Best Bars), I would start by checking out their website to get an overall feel.



Okay, so there are 4,000 spirits in their current collection. If you want to work here, now you know what else you need to study (spirits, bar lingo, and, of course, essential classic cocktails).


Want to fast-track your bartending knowledge? Learn more about the Nimble Bar School here.


Next I’d look to social media to find out what they’re up to currently. Do they host events? What’s the tone of their posts? Humorous? Ironic? Sarcastic? Do they feature seasonal items or specials? This will help you get acquainted with what they’re focusing on right now


As of the writing of this article, our target bar, Canon, recently posted about a Maker’s Mark collaboration:



Pretty cool! Here are some things you can say about this project to your point of contact that will help you set yourself apart in conversation.


  • “Such a cool project! How do you think this whiskey contrasts with other MM products?”
  • “That Maker’s Mark collaboration is awesome. How many bottles of that did you have made?”
  • “Are those the different types of wood and char levels attached to the bottle? Wowie. That’s really smart.”


You don’t need to blow their mind with your knowledge, you’re simply expressing interest and knowledge, seeking common ground, and building rapport.


A quick note: When you compliment, make sure it’s authentic and sincere. Don’t say something is cool or awesome if you don’t believe it. People can tell.


Step 3: Research the key contacts at each bar.


The next step in the hitlist strategy is to write down the name of the primary point of contact for each of your ten bars.


If you find the names of additional points of contact in the process, just add them to additional rows to your spreadsheet. Sometimes you won’t get ahold of the primary contact, so it’s helpful to have another option.


The primary point of contact is whoever is responsible for hiring for the bar. A secondary point of contact is anyone else in the establishment who can say they know you (whether a bartender, server, host, or otherwise)….


Simon makes this suggestion for reaching the primary point of contact:


  • Ask for whoever does the hiring for the bar—not the day manager, not the bartender on shift, not the restaurant manager if the bar manager does the hiring, it’s “please may I speak to whomever is in charge of hiring for the bar.”
  • If the answer is “they’re not here right now,” the return is “no problem, when’s a good time to catch them, and by the way, what’s their name?”
  • Then come back until you can shake that particular hand.


Which brings us to…


Part 2: Rapport before resume.


I know, I know. We just told you earlier to work on your resume. And you need to. But your resume isn’t your strategy. Yes, it needs to look professional. A professional resume is a necessary formality, but a killer resume, by itself, won’t get you the bartending job.


Remember what Brant said, “Attitude is 100%!” Your resume can only communicate, like, 5% attitude.

When it comes to rapport, most people shoot themselves in the foot…


Most people approach their job search as a means to an end. They need the job, but the employer certainly doesn’t need them.


As a result, most people come across as needy. It’s like they’re saying “I’m helpless, and you have to help me.”


Humans are hard-wired to avoid neediness. You’ve felt this before: A needy friend or stranger seems nice but kind of creeps you out or turns you off. When you approach a potential employer with an air of desperation, they feel the same way.


Here are three beliefs I’ve adopted that have helped me when looking for jobs (it’s helped me in life in general too):


  • “I’m the expert bartender, and I’m the prize.”


This gives me the confidence I need to approach any person and any situation. Even if I’m not at the expert level, I still say to myself, “This bar would be lucky to have me.”


  • “I will be genuinely curious about the bar, its story, and its people.”


This shows humility and an eager willingness to find common ground with the bar and its people. This attitude attracts people to you. If you can demonstrate this in conversation with your point of contact, they will trust that you will do the same with your colleagues and guests.


  • “I’m looking for this relationship to be a win-win, and I’m looking for a good fit. We’re both in this together.”


When you demonstrate through your words that you actually have the establishment’s best interests in mind, you develop trust, and they might give you the opportunity to prove yourself. Then you can demonstrate that through your actions, build more trust, and rock your dream job.


If you cultivate these beliefs and attitude, you can’t help but build rapport with people.


Step 4: Go to the first bar on your list and make some friends.


The more relationships you cultivate with members of the establishment, the stronger your rapport will be with each individual.


So before reaching out to a decision maker, go to the bar and strike up a conversation with your bartender or server. If you already know the bartender or server, make friends with another team member.


Before we dive into actionable steps you can take to develop rapport, here’s a rapport-building mindset that you will want to adopt:


“He/she who is of few needs, and is easy to serve, swiftly finds rapport.”

— The Buddha said something like this


Generally, the best way I’ve found to build rapport with a team member at a hospitality establishment is…


  1. Show genuine appreciation for the product they present to you.


For example, if someone puts a cocktail in front of me, I’ll enthusiastically say “Ooo! Yummy!” (Might not be your style, and that’s okay–find what works for you).


This type of appreciation says, “I’m not a judgy asshole, and I appreciate what you do.”


Basically, people will feel safe around you, think you’re cool (or, if you’re like me, kind of a goof).


Once they’re warmed up to you and your presence…


2. Observe the bartender to see if they’re open to a conversation. See if you can follow their lead.


Don’t make any assumptions about your bartender. He or she might not want to talk. Despite the stereotype, not all bartenders are extroverted alphas who want to talk and talk and talk.


Also pay attention to how busy they are.


3. If you think the bartender is open to chatting, ask a question or two. If not, simply be well-mannered and tip well.


Again, I’d ease into the conversation with general, open-ended questions…


  • You been bartending for long?
  • Have you worked at other spots in town?


If you don’t think the bartender’s up for chatting, come back in a day or two and try again.


4. Ask them their name, and shake hands.


Asking for someone’s name shows confidence, and it shows you see them as more than a cog in a machine.


Do this as early as you can, because the earlier you do it, the more opportunities you’ll have to actually use their name.



That said, sometimes the most appropriate time might be just as you’re about to leave. Feel it out.


5. Actively listen to them. This is the most effective way to demonstrate that you’re genuine.


Be engaged — this means that your body language is at attention, it’s alert, and you’re ready to receive whatever they’re saying.


Make direct eye contact, and smile with your eyes to show that you’re genuine.


Nod at key moments when they’re trying to make a point. Be careful not to nod excessively, though, as this suggests over-eagerness (which is another form of neediness).


6. When the time is right, mention your interest in joining their team.


You don’t want to push yourself on the establishment, but you don’t want to wait too long before making your intentions clear, either. If the staff you know is warm to you, mention your interest.


A great way to seed your interest in a job is to ask a question like, “Working here is actually a dream of mine. How did you end up here? I’d love to be a part of what you’ve got going on.”


Finally, ask, “Is there a good person I could send my resume to? Printed or email?” Then, follow their advice! You’re getting closer to getting that job as a bartender at your dream bar!


7. Don’t leave yet!


Once you’ve got this info, don’t leave. If you leave now, it’ll feel like an insincere transaction to the person you’ve been speaking with. Keep building your relationship before you take off.


But when you do drop that resume to that hiring manager, you can say…


“[Bartender/server name] suggested I reach out to you about joining your team.”


Mention your connection that you made when you finally reach out to the hiring manager. The manager might talk to the bartender about you, and your new friend will have the chance to vouch for your coolness 😎.


If you’ve followed all these steps, you’ve just planted the seeds for a real relationship — not a mere transaction.


Part 3: Take a supporting role.


Since this is your dream bartending job we’re talking about here and not just any old job, you might have to start lower on the org chart than you prefer. If, in your conversations or interview, a staff member says you don’t have the qualifications they need, or they don’t have an opening at the level you want, offer to take a supporting role.


Imagine you’re the hiring manager…


You’re interviewing someone without much experience and they’re obviously eager to serve, but you don’t want to hand them the keys to the kingdom yet. Then they say, “I’d love to be a part of your establishment; is there anything more entry-level I can do so I can learn the ropes or demonstrate my ethic?”


Also, if you can show that you’re actively investing in your own education on your own time, that goes a long way. You don’t expect THEM to teach you everything. You have the drive and initiative to learn on your own. Good sign.


How do you feel about the potential hire now? You might feel flattered, or appreciative.


Begin actively investing in your bartending education, today.  Become a high-performance bartender with the Nimble Bar School.


So now let’s get back to you, the job hunter. If you run into this lack-of-experience obstacle, offer to take a supporting role. Hey, you could even start out bussing tables for a while to build deeper relationships. When shifts get slow, you can pick up some skills behind the bar. Or offer to volunteer a few hours a week to learn new skill sets.


The power of offering to stage


Another approach you could take–before even mentioning an interest in a job–is requesting to do a stage shift. This is where you work for free as an intern or apprentice so that you can learn from them.


This request is best made of the primary point of contact by simply asking, “would it be possible to do a stage shift with you/your head bartender?”


This is a great low-barrier and low-commitment way for you to determine whether it’s a good fit, deepen your rapport, and show them your commitment.


Pro tip: If you have a great attitude in a stage shift, you’ve set a great foundation for being at the top of the list when there’s an opening at that establishment.


Even if they don’t accept your offer to stage, the mere willingness you show by making the offer is powerful. This kind of devotion and determination goes a long way.


Part 5: Followup followup followup followup


Ok. You’ve built some relationships at the first bar on your list. It’s up to you to keep yourself in their sphere of awareness.There’s a good chance that, if they don’t have a position the first day you show up, they’ll have one in the future. But if you never come back, they’ll forget about you and someone else will get that job you want and already put effort into.



Keep showing up. Get to know those same people you met the first time you walked into the bar, and then get to know them better. What do they like or dislike? What do they do outside of work? And don’t bring up your job search every single time; it gets annoying. When people feel like you’re interested in them for them, and not just what they have to offer you, they’ll reciprocate the friendship.


Now, do the same with the second bar on your list. And then the third.


There’s a reason we had you make a list of ten bars instead of just one. You’ve gotta cast a wide net. You might not have months to wait for a job to open up at the number one choice on your list, so you’d better have more than one option.


Thankfully, if you’ve followed our advice so far, you’ve got nine more choices! Start again with the second bar and follow the steps above. Then the third bar. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (I don’t actually know why that’s a saying. Is it cause if you drop the basket all the eggs will be cracked?) Anyway, you get the idea.


If you follow these strategies for two bars instead of just one, you double your chances at getting a job as a bartender. Three bars, triple your chances. Four bars… you get the idea!


At the same time, you’re actually being intentional about your search. You’ve narrowed the list of dozens of bars in a city down to 10, which allows you to focus your efforts instead of ‘spraying and praying.’


Then, when you land your dream job, let us know!

Or reach out to us in the meantime to share your journey or ask for advice. We’re here to help.



By thenimblebar

The Holy Trinity of Bartending Terms: Nimble’s Simple Framework For Knowing Your Bar Lingo

One of the biggest challenges a new (heck, any) bartender faces is understanding different spirits- and being able to communicate them effectively to a guest.

Sounding like you know what you’re talking about is an important part of being a pro, and it’s our job to educate guests to a point where they ACTUALLY understand what they’re buying, drinking, tasting, and experiencing.

This is how you, as a bartender, can create a high-value experience that your customers will talk about again and again- and eventually come back for.

All too often, bartenders are overloaded with information and jargon — complex flavour profiles, proprietary distillation processes, unicorn-tear ingredients, and so on.

I’ve left many brand seminars wondering what the hell I was supposed to be walking away with; bafflement at how I’d ever repeat anything I’d just heard, and pages of notes- with no clue how to use them.

Am I a dummy?

I used to think so- until I discovered that so many other bartenders felt the same way.

This is why we created The Holy Trinity Of Bartending Terms — a pithy and practical guide to common bartending terms, which will help you quickly (and effectively) communicate spirits, wine, and fortifieds to anyone.

If you can learn the following bartender terminology, you’ll be well on your way to being able to talk about- and sell more of- any spirit on the market.

If bartending was equal to learning the piano, these would be your basic scales:

The framework is structured as follows:

  1. Flavour Note: alcohol terminology to describe the taste
  1. A Production Identifier: Something unique that differentiates the spirit from other categories
  2. Anecdote: An interesting piece of information that you can pass on to your guests to ‘pour concrete’ on your status as an expert

Bartending Terms for Spirits


  1. Clean and medicinal
  2. Can be made from anything that has fermentable sugars (distilled to a high proof and then cut down with water)
  3. The name stems from the Russian word ‘woda’ meaning water or, as the Poles would say ‘voda’.


  1. Dry and herbal
  2. Juniper forward with supporting botanicals perfuming the spirit
  3. Different styles: (Old Tom, London Dry, Plymouth, New Western, Genever)


  1. Savoury, herbal
  2. Caraway seed, dill and fennel
  3. Scandinavian equivalent to gin


  1. Citrusy & Floral
  2. Made in Chile or Peru (Chile consumes much of its production, where Peru mostly exports)
  3. There are 8 Pisco grapes that can be used for production including Moscatel, Quebranta, and Negra Criolla


  1. Fruity, burnt wine taste
  2. Brandy can be made from distilling any fruit wine. Cognac is usually only made from Ugni Blanc grapes *All Cognacs are brandies, not all brandies are Cognac*
  3. The word “brandy” comes from the Dutch word “brandewijn” which means burnt wine. The Dutch settlers distilled wine they purchased abroad in France to preserve it for the journey home.


  1. Strong grape must, aromatic, sharp
  2. Made in Italy, (the name Grappa is protected by the EU like Parmigiano Reggiano)
  3. Made of leftover seeds, pulp, skins from pressing wine grapes


  1. Strong, Herbal
  2. Green Anise, Florence Fennel, Grande Wormwood
  3. “Louches” when water is added (aromatic oils in the anise go cloudy milky colour)


  1. Feisty, sharp, and grassy
  2. Made from strictly the sugarcane juice
  3. The word Cachaca was coined by African slaves working in the colonial sugar mills; it became a staple ration to energize them during grueling work days


  1. Toasted sugar flavour
  2. Made from distilling sugarcane byproducts like molasses
  3. Due to the hot and humid climate, the Angel’s share (barrel evaporation) in the Caribbean is 3 to 4 times higher than for spirits aged in France or Scotland – which explains the difficulty to keep a rum more than 8 or 10 years.


  1. Earthy and vegetal, to vanilla/caramel notes
  2. Can be Plata (silver), Reposado (rested), Anejo (aged), or Extra Anejo (over 3 years)
  3. Must be made in Jalisco, Mexico from only blue weber agave. Also, agave is not a cactus; it’s closer to the Yucca or Lily family.


  1. Smoky, earthy minerality
  2. Agave pinas (hearts) are cooked in underground pits
  3. Made in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico from any of the 150+ types of agave

Whisk(e)y Terminology

As a general rule-of-thumb, if the country has an ‘E’ in its spelling, then there’s an ‘E’ in the spelling of ‘Whiskey’. E.g. IrEland = Irish Whiskey. Canada = Canadian whisky.


  1. Sweet & spicy
  2. Individual grains (corn/wheat/rye/malted barley) distilled, aged & blended separately
  3. 70 percent of Canadian whiskey is exported to the U.S. Up until 2010, it was the best selling whiskey in the United States for 145 years


  1. Honey, hops, green apple flavors
  2. Light
  3. Triple distilled, often in copper pot stills


  1. Fresh Oak (Woody)
  2. Sweet vanilla, leather, spice
  3. Corn heavy mash bill (at least 51% by law)


  1. Light & Fruity (Speyside) —-> Smokey and/or peaty (Islay)
    1. Note: It’s very useful to come up with a trinity of descriptors for every region in Scotland (highland, lowland, speyside, Islay, etc).
  2. Made with malted barley
  3. Can be single malt (from a single distillery) or blended (multiple distilleries)



  1. Usually lighter
  2. Barnyard (hay and earth), black cherry
  3. Pairs with duck, roasted vegetables, salmon


  1. Medium
  2. Dark fruits (blackberry, plum), chocolate, earthy
  3. Pairs with dark poultry meat, cheese & charcuterie, dark chocolate


  1. Medium
  2. Dark fruits (black currant, plum), Baking spices (cocoa, vanilla)
  3. Pairs with burgers, baked pasta dishes, mushrooms


  1. Heavy
  2. Jammy (red berries), slight spice (tobacco, anise)
  3. Pairs with sausage, venison, tomato, parmesan


  1. Medium to heavy
  2. Black pepper, blackberry, BBQ smoke
  3. Pairs with cured meats, BBQ & grilled meats, bold spices


  1. Heavy
  2. Dark fruits  (blueberry, black currant), savoury note (green bell peppers)
  3. Pairs with lamb, steak, blue cheese, rosemary



  1. Light. Usually sweeter.
  2. Orchard fruits (apricot, pear, honeycrisp apple)
  3. Pairs with curries and spicy dishes, seafood


  1. Light and crisp
  2. Grassy, passion fruit, gooseberry
  3. Pairs with shellfish, vegetables, herbs and greens


  1. Light and crisp
  2. Lime, pear, and nectarine
  3. Pairs with cream pastas, sushi, vegetarian cuisine


  1. Medium body
  2. Peaches & honeysuckle
  3. Pairs with lobster, almonds, pork


  1. Full body
  2. Buttery, oaky, asparagus
  3. Pairs with white fish, butter sauces, creamy vegetable soups


  1. Light
  2. Flowers, citrus, melon, rhubarb
  3. Pairs with light salads, seafood, soft cheeses


  1. Light and effervescent
  2. Green apple & pear, bread & toasty notes
  3. Pairs with oysters, fatty fried foods, poached or deviled eggs




  1. Fino = Nutty, light, fresh, saline
  2. Manzanilla = Spanish for chamomile. Tastes similar to fino, a bit more delicate.
  3. Pair with oysters, nuts, olives & tapenades


  1. Bridge between fino and oloroso (aka a bit richer with similar saltiness)
  2. Add nuttiness and herbaceousness
  3. Pair with cured meat, cheese, and gamier meats


  1. Amontillado/Fino on the nose, oloroso on the palate (Fuller bodied)
  2. Accidental sherry → Starts out as a fino and then inexplicably loses its film of flor (aka the rarest and most expensive sherry)
  3. Pair with roasted poultry, sardines, heavy stews


  1. “Scented” in Spanish. Dark, aromatic and nutty
  2. Full body; walnut, balsamic, and dark fruit notes (plum, dates)
  3. Pair with mushroom risotto, steak/venison, aged cheeses


  1. Grapes are dried under the sun to concentrate sweetness
  2. Heaviest and stickiest of the sherries. Lots of molasses, raisin, fig flavors
  3. Pair with ice cream & desserts, fresh fruits, blue cheeses


  1. Made in Douro Valley, Portugal in the seaport town of Porto
  2. Can be made into different styles: white, ruby, tawny, or vintage (aging main factor) Full bodied, raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, cinnamon
  3. Pair with nuts and richer cheeses, duck confit, coffee


  1. Small semi-tropical island that belongs to Portugal in the Atlantic ocean
  2. Unique wine-making process mimics sea-aging through tropics by running steam coils through the barrel rooms creating sauna effect. Think cooked flavors (roasted nuts, stewed fruit, toffee)
  3. Pair with old hard cheeses, roasted vegetables, stewed meats/fruits


  1. Italian equivalent of port town on the Western point of Sicily
  2. Dry and sweet variations; median flavors are vanilla, brown sugar, apricots, tamarind. Traditionally served as an aperitif between 2nd and 3rd course of a meal.
  3. Pair with chicken, cauliflower, octopus, chocolate desserts


  1. Separated into 3 categories and bittered with different herbs: Vermouth (wormwood), Quinquinas (cinchona bark), and Americano (gentian root)
  2. All start as wine that have been fortified and flavoured with spices,herbs,fruit peels, and other natural flavours. Medicinal, bittersweet, savory and spicy flavor.
  3. Pair with lighter fare (tapas, antipasto, cheese & charcuterie), stocks and sauces, and of course…cocktails!


Getting to grips with the reams of bartending terms out there can seem daunting, but by following our simple 3-step framework, you’ll be nailing your alcohol terminology in no time.

You just need to remember:

  1. Flavour note
  2. Production identifier
  3. Quick anecdote

Once you’ve got that down pat, you’ll be ready to deep-dive into the advanced bartending terms associated with each category of alcohol: spirits, wines, fortified, and cocktails. Let us know which topic you’d like us to cover, and we’ll get down to crafting a new guide.

By Nimble Bar Company

The Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks

The Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks

How To Exude Confidence Behind The Bar

Bartenders need to project confidence. Our ability to do so puts our guests at ease, gains their trust, and gives them permission to have a good time. Master these bartending tricks and you’ll be oozing confidence and blowing your guests away in no time.

Years ago, I was working my way through a speedy seven drink chit, when I suddenly realized that all 7 guests around the bar were silently watching me work. They were transfixed. With all eyes on me, it dawned on me that in that exact moment, I had the power to transform these guests’ experience with a few simple-but-powerful bartending tricks.

Now, when I say tricks, I really mean movements. I’m talking basic things you can do with your tools and your drinks that’ll captivate guests and shift their experience from mediocre to mindblowing. I’ll share some of these tricks right here in this article.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to employ these bartending tricks subtly. Quietly. Like a ninja.

But before we get to the meat of the matter, we need to get one thing straight:

As bartenders, we never use loud noises, or do anything too ‘peacock-y’ to entertain our guests.

We don’t want to disrupt our guests or take their attention away from their conversations, but by using these functional movements in an unobtrusive way, your bar skills and stylish flair will make their experience more memorable. Whether guests decide to watch or choose to focus on something else, at least the decision will be theirs.

Bartending is a Dance

For the sake of this exercise, think of bartending the same way you’d think of salsa (the dance, not the condiment). Certain steps and methods are the same across nearly all styles of salsa; it’s when you create your own movements and personal style that you start to really build on those basics. The tricks I’m about to teach you are going to help shape your own personal style and build on the basic bartending strategies that you already have (and if you don’t, you can learn them at the Nimble Bar School).

But before you start flinging your spoons in the air during your next shift, I recommend that you give yourself a couple of months to practice these bartending tricks at home. You can do so by doing the drills described each of the videos below.

As you read through this article, bear in mind that these tricks are just the beginning. In time, we’ll show you even more movements that you can add to your repertoire.

Trick #1: Tin Flips

If you’re totally new to bartending tricks, this is where you’ll want to start. You’ll use this trick a lot — like, nightly.

The goal of the tin flip is to get the tin where you need it to be as quickly as possible.



In the video, I move pretty fast. You’ll probably want to start out slow to get the hang of the movement. Notice how I roll the tin over the back of my hand. This might take a little work. Be sure to practice in a place where you won’t break anything if you drop the tin. And make sure the tin’s empty, too…

Once you’ve mastered the tin, you can also use the trick on other tools, like spoons and bottles.

Trick #2: Tin Pivots

Tin pivots are the next movement to master because they can be used in combination with tin flips. The key here as you spin the tin horizontally is to get your thumb and fingers out of the way. Then, you can spin the tin on the ball of your hand.

These pivots are extremely versatile and can be used on bottles, assembled Boston shakers, and various glassware.



After you get the hang of the pivot, try combining the move with the flip. Flip the tin first, and then pivot,before setting it down. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- it’s part of the fun!

For one final variation, try pivoting your shaker after you seal it for a greater effect.


Trick #3: Shake & Stir

(aka: double shaking and double stirring)

After you’ve built your drinks, you can shake one drink and stir another at the same time. Kind of like a more advanced version of the belly rub + head pat at the same time.

Nothing communicates confidence like actions that clearly say, “I know what I’m doing; no big deal” and that’s exactly what the shake & stir is all about.

After you’ve built your drinks, you can shift up your performance gears by shaking one drink and stirring another at the same time- kind of like a more advanced version of the belly-rub-head-pat.

The trick to this trick, if you will, is getting your spoon all the way to the bottom of your tin, otherwise, you’ll spill the drink.



Trick #4: Pour ‘Cuts’

The way most bartenders cut off their pours is- well… boring. They pour into a jigger and tentatively, gently lift the bottle away. Tentative and gentle? Doesn’t exactly exude confidence, now does it. You can easily add some boldness to your work and spice up an otherwise boring pour with a couple of super simple techniques.

The first cut is called a ‘swoop.’ Why, pray tell? Because, fair bartender, you must swoop thy bottle.



The Swoop

Here’s what you need to do to pull off a stellar swoop:

After you make your pour, let the bottom of the bottle (now at the top since you’ve turned the bottle over) fall to the side until the bottle’s weight turns everything right side up. Then, swoop the bottle around- like I did in the video- to keep the rest of the liquid in the bottle as you finish the pour.

Notice in the video how I’m holding the neck of the bottle between my index and middle fingers; then, I use my thumb to turn the bottle over. This method makes everything look much smoother and makes the move miles easier to pull off.


The Bounce

Try this for a second:

Imagine having a salt shaker in your hand. Are you with me? Now imagine shaking that salt shaker over a big plate of fries. That movement you’re doing? That’s the bounce. Now, you’ll be trying to pull of a bounce with a bottle- not a salt shaker. To make it work, you’ll need to pull the bottle up from the bounce at the bottom, then flip it over (right-side-up) to stop your pour.

Notice how I’m holding the bottle the same way I was during the swoop. You definitely don’t have to; I just think it’s easier for different types of bounces- but you can play around with it and make it your own. For maximum pro effect, be sure to keep the labels of the bottles facing your guests while you perform these cuts.

These elegant flourishes bring flow to your style. And, with a little practice, you can perform cuts with the tin after you’ve poured your drink.


Trick #5: Spoon Flair

You’re going to reach for a spoon at least 60 times a night, so you might as well make it fun for you and your guests.right?

My all-time favorite spoon tricks are the flip from the glass or the spin, both of which are very similar to the tin flip and tin pivot.

The spoon flip is actually a little easier than the tin flip because you’ve got a long, thin spoon to grab onto after you complete the trick. The spin, on the other hand, is a little more challenging.
To get started, try spinning the spoon around your index finger (don’t expect it to work the first time; keep practicing, you’ll get there).



Bringing It All Together…

Ok. We’ve covered the tin flip, the tin pivot, the shake and stir, two different types of cuts, and spoon flair. That’s a lot to take in, so don’t feel like you’ve got to master all of these at once. Just like shuffling a deck of cards or learning to whistle, take it slow and stick with it and eventually you’ll get it. Practice, practice, practice.

If you give yourself time to master these bartending tricks, you’ll be 100% more entertaining than 99% of other bartenders (how d’ya like them apples?). Your movements will communicate confidence, show your guests a great time, and even help you set the tone for your night.

Want more?

We coach professional bartenders to master their craft and become leaders. Interested? Click here to find out more about the Nimble Bar School.

1 2 3 5
Skip to toolbar
Secrets To Cutting Someone Off At Your Establishment (Part 1 of 2)
A Chat With Dead Rabbit’s Sam Casuga on Her Journey to One of the Best Bars in the World
This Cocktail Garnish is Saving Time, Money – and the Planet
New Student in Bartending School
Bartending School: Should You Sign Up?
The Nightcall Negroni
The Hidden Benefits of Cocktail Making Classes
How to Become a Bartender that Any Bar in the World Will Hire (+ Free Script for Job Applicants)
How to get a bartending job
How to get a job as a bartender (even if you have no skills, knowledge, or experience)
The Holy Trinity of Bartending Terms: Nimble’s Simple Framework For Knowing Your Bar Lingo
The Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks