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Earn while you party
Everyone likes to party and if one is also being paid while partying then its double the deal. Today new professions are popping up that offers good money and a lot of creativity and enjoyment. Bartending is one such career that has recently come into notice and offers a lot of money.
Imagine...working in an industry that is both secure and recession proof where work means meeting new friends and interesting people, and being the center of the party, having a blast, and the best part-getting paid to do it! Ever thought of making a career in serving creative glassfuls to people? Well, bartending is one such career, which is becoming increasingly popular and gaining respect amongst many. Internationally, the bartender has been something of a celebrity. Highly skilled and valued, he is the profit center and the chief attraction in a bar and the Indian counterpart is also following suit.

Upbeat career
Shatbhi Basu, a veteran in this field, who also runs Indias first institution for professional bartending STIR, opines," I think bartending is a strange mix of art, science and technique. It keeps you young and contemporary with the rest of the world while allowing the flexibility of creative process."

As Nasir Shaikh, Director of Restaurants-JW Marriott informs, "Its no more about working in a stiff environment, rather the trend is towards a flamboyant and exciting profession and generally having a good time even while at work." Some of the employment opportunities in this line are with: Restaurants
Nightclubs, pubs and wine bars
Catering services
Concession companies
Cruise ships restaurants

"Restaurants are a good place to start as a bartender, where the bar may or may not be extremely crowded all the time, and management could justify taking on a certified bartender. Nightclubs are the creme de la creme when it comes to tipping. A fast paced nightclub is filled with upwardly mobile partygoers who like to spend money and make sure others can see it. The patrons are typically very discriminating in their taste and want what they pay for.

What it takes
As Mrinal Sarkar, Food and Beverage Manager, Le Royal Meridien Mumbai says, "The most important skill a bartender needs is an extensive knowledge of the drink he/she mixes, its not just about the content but also how artistically and creatively he/she presents the final product to his/her guest." Also needed is the ability to sense the best flavors, smells and textures that would make a good cocktail or a mocktail.

The person also needs to be thorough with the various aspects of bar operations like-the proper bar set up, the bar equipment, a proper selection of glassware and very importantly the relevant licensing laws in the city for age/timings/etc.

Raj Vir-the Bartender at Intercontinental The Grand adds, "The skill sets needed in this line have to be a mix of-a basic knowledge of cocktails, mocktails and spirits along with a skill of flairing (Juggling bottles, doing tricks etc.)."

The skill sets for this profession is a mix of natural talent and acquired. There are schools and colleges, which are imparting training and specialised learning in this line.

There are quite a few individuals and institutions in Mumbai and across India that provide good training like the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Hospitality Training Institute (HTI) (Dominic Costabir, Gladwyn Rego), Shatbhi Basu, IBOM (Sandy Verma), Cocktails & Dreams (Yangdup Lama)-both in Delhi.

Basu who has had a lone: association in this profession and conducts training workshops in bartending, wine appreciation and mixing cocktails opines, "The whole skill of bartending is getting more professional and respected. Hotel management students who earlier preferred to opt for the kitchen programmes are recognizing the benefits of specializing in the bar." "Our bartenders are also doing extremely well internationally as their product knowledge is both high and contemporary. Once our market opens up to international products, theres no looking back."

Career track
With the fast growth witnessed by the leisure industry and the burgeoning number of hotels and restaurants the opportunities are many. As Sarkar of Le Meridien informs, "The Indian party scene is also rocking like never before what with restrobars, lounges and discos becoming everyones hangout, the perfect bartender is highly in demand today." Besides, the world is a bartenders Oyster - with opportunities waiting in the national and international hospitality industry.

Shaikh of Marriott adds, "Typically in a star hotel a bartender can grow to become a restaurant manager, director of Food and beverage and finally the general manager or even higher in the hierarchy."

Show me the money
As Basu says, "A once stagnant, underpaid and not-so-happening job has been elevated to a highly skilled, respected and wellpaid one. Typically the monetary graph will be:
Start as a trainee: Rs 3000-5000
With one year experience: Rs 5000-7500
Head bartender -Rs 10,000-17,500
Tips -Rs 2000-6000/month
Dubai: 1, 000 dirhams - 3, 000 dirhams
Cruise ships -$400 -$1000
Plus tips which sometimes are just as much as the salary

A bartender is seen by people as a friend and many a times as a confidant/e- so good listening will hold a bartender in good stead. Any work can be fun, if done the right way. Experimenting and innovating are not just qualities a bartender must possess; they are the tools to make work more gratifying.

A positive attitude to both life in general and work in particular must be cultivated. New entrants in this profession must realize that this work demands dedication and hard work.

By taking criticism and working on them to improve ones creativity and work is the key to success. Raj Vir of InterContinental The Grand feels, like many others, this is also an emerging and a sunrise profession but one has to be prepared to work hard and late working hours.

Keep learning
Shaikh opines that in this line knowledge upgradation is very important which as well as undergoing trainings as well as the Internet and specialised books and publications can do. Upgradation is also required in terms of the beverage knowledge comprising the basics of spirits, wines ansd beer brands, the latest beverage trends, wine and spirit insights-both traditional and contemporary, the essence and practical applications of mixology (mixing drinks) and a dose of cocktail trials.
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Posted on : 7/11/2005
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