Along with Las Vegas, New York might be one of the most competitive cities to get a bartending job in. I didn’t want to focus solely on getting a job with no experience because New York is a tough city even if you have experience. I do know a couple tricks of the trade that will have you bartending in New York in no time.
One great thing that makes it easier to get a job in New York is that there is a bar everywhere. It seems like there is one on every corner and if you’re in areas like SoHo, The East or West Village, Greenwich Village or the Lower East Side, there are bars in every other doorway. This is also the area of Manhattan that I am most familiar with. I have a good friend who owns a bar in the East Village and he gave me some pointers writing this post, but we’ll get to that later.
Now that we know there are bars on every corner, How do you go about getting a bartending job?
Tip #1- </font>If you walk around Lower Manhattan you’ll notice that fewer and fewer bars are open during the day. This can be a great way to get a job with or without experience. I asked my friend who owns a bar in that area what he would do if somebody offered to work for free in the afternoon. He said it would help if he knew or trusted the person, but he would certainly consider it. I thought about his response and it made perfect sense. What does he really have to lose?
Nothing!!! If he opens during the day and you start bringing in a crowd and you are both making money its a win-win. If you are wondering how to bring in a crowd during the day it certainly helps to have a following. If you don’t have a bar following start promoting your bar as a SOCCER BAR!! Most soccer matches that are any good are played in Europe and will be broad cast during the day in the United States. Get on social media and start telling people your the official “Manchester United” bar or whatever team.
If you can get a following and you are both making money you’ll be bartending at night in no time. (If that’s what you want) It doesn’t have to be soccer either although that is a great way.
Bonus!!!! My friend who is the bar owner said that if he didn’t hire you to open the bar in the day, that your dedication, enthusiasm, and drive, would definitely leave an impression. He said that he would certainly keep your resume and cell number and be in touch if something opened up. Again, you asking an owner is a win-win. If the owner decides not to open he’ll keep you in mind and that can be very powerful. He also mentioned that he would recommend you to other bars. Again this is really powerful because all these bar owners know each other. If he thinks you’re crazy, who cares? You Lost Nothing
Tip #2- Social Media- I alluded to social media in tip #1 and I’d use it to my advantage not only to get a following but to get a job. If you tell an owner that you have 2,000 Facebook friends that almost all live in the area and 500 Twitter followers that are associated with drinking, this can be very powerful. Bar owners used to be happy if their bartenders brought in a few friends that would drink. Ten was a lot. Do not under estimate the power of social media. Use it to your advantage. It’s good for other things besides seeing what someone you knew ten years ago is doing this weekend.
Tip #3- If social media isn’t your thing (it’s not everybody’s) learn to SPECIALIZE!!! What I mean by this is learn a bartending niche. The great thing about New York is that there are so many specialty bars.
There are wine bars, dessert bars, whiskey bars, classic cocktail bars, vodka bars, scotch bars and on and on. Become a pro in one of these niches and impress whoever is interviewing you when you apply. Show them how much knowledge you
have on a particular liquor.
You can also specialize your cocktail niche by restaurants. There is every kind of restaurant known to man in New York. One of my favorite is an Arepa joint that has more rum than you ever thought imaginable. They have over 100 rum based cocktails.
You can also be a beer expert and get a job at a German Beer Garden, or a tap house that specializes in craft brews. The possibilities of honing a niche are absolutely limitless in New York
Bonus!!!! I mentioned classic cocktails as a niche before and it certainly is. It’s also a niche that is hot in Manhattan and the rest of the country right now. Go get a great old book like The Craft of the Cocktail and hone your skills in the classic cocktail niche.
It also wouldn’t hurt if you brought some original recipes to your interview. This would surely impress. It shows that you are a cocktail enthusiast and just some regular schmo looking for a quick buck.
Tip #4- Boroughs-
Unless you are dead set on working in Manhattan there is great opportunity in other boroughs, specifically Brooklyn. Brooklyn has seen a massive shift in demographics and gentrification over the past 15 years and it’s getting to be more and more like Manhattan. I actually prefer Brooklyn a lot of the times, especially on the weekends when every bar in Manhattan is packed. Some great places to look in Brooklyn are Williamsburg, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Ft. Greene and Greenpoint. They are very trendy areas with tons of great bars and restaurants and it’s just like being in Manhattan without the cabs.
I hope this article helps you get out there and find a job in New York. I probably should have waited to post this because I am moving back there in a few months. With these tips there won’t be any jobs left. Good Luck in your search and as always, feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions or need any advice.