Pour testing skills improvement
February 2, 2007 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Bartenders: What can I do to improve my pouring skills? [pour inside]

Yesterday I took my first official pour test at work- and did really poorly. The test is to pour 12 1 1/4oz. pours with the left hand, 12 with the right hand, and then repeat the same procedure with 2oz. pours. The liquid (1L of room-temperature water mixed with about 1/2oz. of grenadine) is poured into a mixing tin, then into an Exact-O-Pour- the pour tester has 6 tubes and it's done blindly, so you can't correct your pours as you go.

While practicing earlier in the day I managed to get a straight line of 1 1/4ths several times, but naturally when I had to do it in front of 2 managers and a revolving cast of servers I completely blew it. My 2oz. pours were especially bad.

What can I do to pour more accurately? In April I have to take the serious pour test (yesterday was more of an "evaluation") and if I don't get within 1/8th oz. on at least 90% of my pours, really bad things happen.

I'm going to start pouring for 30 mins before my shifts to get the practice I need in, but I really need help on technique. I've only been free-pouring for about 2 months now, so my question is: what did you do to really nail your pours down consistently and accurately?
posted by baphomet to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You need a good counting technique. Perhaps you should practice pouring into jiggers and count off how long the pour takes you. Then transfer that count to your free pour. I would suggest, however, practicing in front of people (as it seems to be nerves that gets your pour all bejiggidy).
posted by AlliKat75 at 10:00 AM on February 2, 2007

Best answer: The way you describe it, sounds like your biggest problem is with nervousness or anxiety about being evaluated on it. If you poured accurately with some consistency when you were practicing on your own, then it seems like you just need a way to reduce your nervousness about the test, not necessarily improvements on your technique.

Just be confident in your skills. Just tell yourself you know your shots will be dead on (and practice enough that you are correct about that), and don't second guess yourself. When you practice, make sure you've got it down, then when you are evaluated, remind yourself that you can do it, and there's no need to try any harder or do things any differently for an audience, because you've already got it.

That's just general test-taking advice from a non-bartender.

On preview, second practicing in front of others.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:05 AM on February 2, 2007

Echoing what others said about technique. From the sound of it, you already can pour pretty well when not in front of a crowd. The next step is learning how to do it in front of a crowd. After all, depending on where you work, technique and showing off can help out the tip situation. You must be able to pour drinks without outside interference messing up your pours.
Anyways, my suggestion is to be the official bartender for parties. Seriously. If you know people who like to party, offer to just pour drinks the entire night. Pretty soon into the gig, you'll be forced to stop worrying so damn much about how to pour as conversations start to flow and you'll just pour without thinking. Once you get the crowd aspect under control, start checking your pours at parties.
posted by jmd82 at 10:18 AM on February 2, 2007

Are you consistent, but off? Are you overpouring or underpouring?

I would agree with the previous posters to get a count in your head. I think the nerves throw the timing of the count off. Either you are speeding up (or slowing down)the count based on nerves. Consider using something other than numbers to establish a time frame. A line from a song or something similar. If you are consistently off, it should be correctable by adding or taking away a beat based on your nerves.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:28 AM on February 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes. Get your counts down (I use three for a short pour and four for a long -- you may have a different tempo), then just practice as much as you can pouring for others.
posted by trip and a half at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2007

Best answer: Relax. Everytime you pour a shout from now on, you will have an audience; get use to it. Whether they are talking to you and asking questions or critiquing you (even customers do), It's part of the job. The more comfortable you act and look, the more money you will make and the better you will pull off the "test". As mentioned in all the previous posts, count count count. get a good cadence that works for you. I personally do a speed count subconsciosly (12345678910). I have a co worker who does a slower count (1....2....3....). The thing is we have been doing it for years and know what works for us. And if it's nerves thats killing it, from an old school bartender to a newbie: have a shot of vodka (odorless and clear). If you are going to try it, use it before parctice too so that you are use to it. Just one, stay in controll, you can't be flailing around droping bottles and knocking stuff over either.
posted by cdavidc at 11:25 AM on February 2, 2007

AskMetafilter: have a shot of vodka

Works every time.
posted by asuprenant at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2007

Besides the count (where practice is key) make sure you are consistent with the pour itself. The bottle should be practically straight up and down. With the booze coming out at full speed. If you have too much angle you won't get a consistent pour speed and that will cause issues.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:19 PM on February 2, 2007

« Older Filemaker redux   |   What is the best way to get in on the ground floor... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.