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Everyday Challenges Faced By Bartenders Behind the Bar

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14/07/2022 Bartenders offer a pleasant drinking experience to their customers while facing a number of challenges on a day-to-day basis.

To know about the real-time challenges faced by bartenders across the world, I asked some of the renowned bartenders about the challenges they had to face when they initially entered the space, the challenges they face on a regular basis behind the bar, and how they overcome them. 

Daniele Azzaro, Bartender at Rocco Forte Hotels 

What challenges did you initially face when you entered the bartending space?

Working in the hospitality sector is not for everyone, especially if you do it in a high-standard place. The first challenge I faced initially was integrating myself into the team and trying to understand how can I fight the daily stress? 

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, if there are any? 

Now, after a long time working in hospitality, the challenges that I faced are completely different. Doing a different position now is more about leading the team and making sure that everyone is happy in our surroundings.

How do you overcome them? Can you share some tips? 

The only way to overcome them is to try to always have a positive attitude and try to inspire your colleagues and be inspired by them. You will definitely have a team that will always support you and help you face any challenge that you may face during the day.

Michele Lombardi, Head Mixologist at The Ritz London

What challenges did you initially face when you entered the bartending space? 

When I entered the bartending space, I wanted to bartend so badly because I'd seen bartenders working and chatting with customers, and it was something that fascinated me. I didn't have much knowledge, and that was my biggest challenge. Knowledge is power.

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, if there are any? 

On a daily basis, the most difficult challenge is to satisfy the most demanding palate. We have very demanding customers who know how to drink and what to drink, so driving them to the right decision is the biggest challenge.

How do you overcome them? Can you share some tips? 

Communicating and familiarizing with customers is one of the tips I would like to share. Try to bring the customers by your side, make them feel at ease at home, and anticipate their needs to make them have a unique experience.

Federico Pavan, Director of Mixology at The Donovan Bar at Brown's Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel

What challenges did you initially face when you entered the bartending space? 

There can be all sorts of challenges when you start in the industry. I was 17 years old and was working at a renowned bar in Verona. There is a huge amount to learn, and for me, the most challenging part back then was knowing all the different spirits. I had no idea there were so many and all the different variations. It was also quite a challenge, but an exciting one, to remember all the different guest preferences. This was my first experience of being face-to-face with many customers, and although this was initially a challenge at the beginning, it quickly became the reason why I do what I do. Meeting and interacting with people from all over the world is a great perk of the job.

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, if there are any? 

Every day is a new challenge. In my position now as Director of Mixology, I feel my biggest responsibility and, at times, the biggest challenge is ensuring my team is happy and satisfied. In the last two years and before the pandemic, many members of the team before then had moved on and new members joined. It's always a challenge educating and training individuals at The Donovan Bar to ensure they are providing 5* plus service to our guests. Keeping up with the trends is ever more important nowadays as the bar scene has grown dramatically, and it's a challenge, although an exciting one, to keep up with the trends and ensure we are at the forefront of them. 

How do you overcome them? Can you share some tips? 

I try my best to lead a team rather than be just their boss. I want the team to be excited about coming to work, and I will try my best to make the bar a fun environment for them. Over the years, we have become a close-knit group and often socialize outside of work, which only helps us face any challenges together as one team. Whenever I am faced with any sort of challenge, I remind myself that I am always learning, and that is often how you learn, by being faced with a situation that you need to overcome and learn from. My role model, of course, is 'The Maestro', and I am sure he was faced with many challenges along the way. Look where he has got to! 

Alan Wood, Bartender at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

 What challenges did you initially face when you entered the bartending space? 

Confidence was one of the major challenges when I first started bartending. Having the confidence to be able to make drinks and keep orders right as well as interact with customers and manage the hours. I still remember my first 12-hour shift like it was yesterday.

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, if there are any? 

On a daily basis, there are challenges, but these are wide and varied, ranging from the back of the house to the front of the house, and that is one of the reasons I love this industry because it teaches you to think on your feet and be adaptable.

How do you overcome them? Can you share some tips? 

As for overcoming, it's all a matter of perspective, as no matter how bad the day can get, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

Lorenzo Bartaletti, Bartender at Hyatt Regency Sydney

What challenges did you initially face when you entered the bartending space? 

It seems like an easy job, but it isn’t for everyone. It is not easy to deal with some guests or difficulties and keep smiling all the time. To be able to converse with people from different cultures, areas, and backgrounds was challenging for me, but at the same time, it was a learning experience.

What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis, if there are any? 

The hardest part of this job is that no matter whether you are having a bad day, or going through something, whenever you sign in to start work, you have to face it, and you have to face it from the very first day. All you have to focus on is looking after the customers to make them happy. 

How do you overcome them? Can you share some tips?

It can be a very satisfying job. You will never be done, and you’ll never finish learning. Never be scared to learn, and do not be afraid to try; this job can give you plenty of emotions, so try hard, be brave, and never give up. Open your mind to new knowledge, commit and go ahead on your way. You will be proud of whatever you achieve.

Interviewed & Written by Aakriti Rawat, Beverage Trade Network 

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