Last Monday, I was at the Ultimate Bartender Championship by Monkey Shoulder.

I normally don’t attend competition events because they’re mostly focused on mixology. Although I enjoy that part of it – the experimentation and playing with flavours – it’s not the same as bartending.

The UBC focused on skills that “pay bills”. And I loved it.

Because being a great bartender is more than just about making a good drink. It’s about creating an overall experience for your guest, even if they order just a gin & tonic or a whisky highball. Or beer, for that matter.

It’s about knowing your craft well enough to know how long it takes to pour a shot. Its about knowing how to make a great drink with a cost-efficient recipe. It’s about service.

Anyone can make a good drink once. But bartenders have to be able to make good drinks over and over and over again, sometimes within time frames that don’t seem possible.

A great bartender knows how to make a guest feel like they’re the most important person in the room, even on a busy night.

Being a bartender is not as easy as it looks.

I’ve been on both sides now. And while learning to be a proper bartender, I’ve also learned how to be a better guest.

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