Interviewing Keivan Nemati - How to be a good bartender?
Making sure everyone is having a great time and possibly leaving the bar happier than when they came in, should be any bartender’s priority - Keivan Nemati
In an exclusive interview with LSC, Keivan Nemati speaks about the role of a bartender and which qualities one should cultivate in order to be a good bartender.
What is the role of a bartender in your opinion
Above all – looking after people. Welcoming guests in your bar is not much different from hosting friends in your own place. Making sure everyone is having a great time and possibly leaving the bar happier than when they came in, should be any bartender’s priority. This is not only limited to guests: a good bartender will make sure the overall happiness and good vibes are spread among the staff too.
Advising guests on their drink choice and introducing them to new cocktails and spirits, as well as other great bars they should visit (especially if they are tourists!) and making sure everyone is treated equally, regulars and first-timers, without prejudices, awkward puns and e anything that might make guests feel uncomfortable, should be on top of the list – of course as well as smiling and cleaning!
What are the qualities of a great bartender
Ideally, anything that would help to achieve the above. But personality should play a big part. You would be transmitting calm, happiness and friendship to the ones around you. A good bartender will have a great memory, to remember guests regular drinks, names and habits. He/she will also have a great attention for details, into their cocktails and their appearance, but also to be aware of everything that is going on inside their bar – even on a busy Friday night. A good bartender would be a good listener, a good spokesman and ideally a sort of mind-reader: they will know at first glance if who wants to get deep into that obscure cocktails conversation, and who just wants to be left with space and intimacy while enjoying a good drink. Overall, a good bartender will be humble and will naturally make everyone feel at ease.
What is a big NO-NO for a bartender
Ego. This should be left out of your bar, if not out of your life. Pretending to know everything should be a huge no-no too, no matter how experienced you are. And the list would go on with mistreating colleagues and customers, even to just make fun of them; avoid puns and talks that would overshadow or embarrass fellow bartenders and guests in order to look good yourself. No ‘hitting’ on girls, guys and mocking anyone in the room for your own laugh. There should be no room for the arrogance of any kind in our industry – it’s hospitality after all. And last but not least, don’t be negative.
Tips to grow your bartender career.
Learn more than your job. Learn from other industries (and how can you apply those new skills to your job), always consider positively any sort of advice and (especially) critiques, even when they come from the ones not in your industry. You’d be surprised how much you can learn by simply listening to everyone. Travel, explore, and never get stuck in the same place for too long. And especially, keep in mind all the points from the answers above!
One example of a problem and how a bartender should handle it?
Perhaps, one of the biggest issues we may face on a daily basis are intoxicated guests. Learning how to deal with them may not be easy and there is no magic formula for it. Be polite, nice and show true concern to them. Suggest them to drink some water and take some time before ordering another cocktail, instead of cutting them off right away. Offer them some complimentary nibbles. Always chose your words carefully; after all, it may be easy to misunderstand the message and the tone after we had a few drinks (try with: I am afraid I cannot serve you, rather than YOU cannot be served). Never face them directly by the front, but always stand by their side – like a good friend. If the intoxicated person is in a group, try to talk to one of their mates who’s perhaps soberer and ask their help to look after them. Make sure they get home safe. Again, sadly this issue does not come with instructions, but I’d loved to know all these pieces of advice from my very first day bartending. It would have helped a lot perhaps. Lastly, never lose your temper. Many times I had to deal with intoxicated guests who were shouting on me, and then coming back the day after to actually apologies and thanking me for preventing them from drinking more!
Your top 5 bars that are top because of their bartenders?
The Zetter Townhouse – London
Bar Termini – London
Baba Au Rum – Athens
Polite Provisions – San Diego
Bar Trench – Tokyo