Before moving to Australia, I had worked in hospitality before, but never in bars, since I just reached the legal drinking age two years ago. It’s totally different over here than in the United States, but most of these things that I’ve learned could apply to any bar, anywhere in the world. I don’t want to say that working in a bar has made me more cynical or made me enjoy going to bars less, but I do make sure to be more aware of how much I’m tipping and trying not to be an annoying customer. If you’re thinking about becoming a bartender or coming to Australia or have worked in hospitality before, please leave me a comment below with your experiences. It’s always fun to share stories.
- Order the specials. It’s less likely they’ve been sitting in the freezer for days.
- Pub food in this country is actually not bad and relatively cheap. Schnitzel, steaks, soups, salads and sandwiches are always safe bets.
- This isn’t Coyote Ugly. You can’t spray water on customers when they’re being rude.
- Beer smells like vomit when it comes out of the taps. And you have to get rid of all the excess beer in slop buckets at the end of the night. YUMM.
- In Australia, they have strict rules surrounding alcohol. You can’t free-pour at all, but instead pour exactly one shot per mixed drink. This is why cocktails are so expensive. You also have to take a class and get a certificate before working in all bars and most restaurants and cafes called an RSA.
- Belligerence is not limited to the young, backpacker crowd. I’ve seen grown men, high-ranking bankers, become so drunk they fall over. Which is another thing. If you’re drunk, you get kicked out of the bar, which seems counterproductive in America.
- People are rude and annoying. I could tell you lots of stories of being talked down to and yelled at for no apparent reason, but that’s the tale of hospitality.
- People are nice and generous. In a country where there’s no tipping culture, I still have regular customers (Australians, mind you) who tip on every drink. I know them by name because they are so nice.
- People are needy. They say “I want, give me, I need,” not “may I please have” and “thank you.” I actually had someone say that she doesn’t say please because no one ever says thank you back to her. Even though we’re the ones providing her with a service. Nice.
- Alcohol is expensive in Australia. Sure, you can find cheap backpacker bars or buy your own at the liquor store and take it home, but if you go to any bar in Australia, be prepared to spend between $5-10 on any given drink. For example, at my bar most beers range between $7-9 AUD until you get to the fancy imports, which can get up to $17. House liquors are all $7.50 and top shelf goes up from there to about $16 for a shot of thirty-year-old aged rum. Wines are the cheapest alcohol by far, at $7-12 per glass.
- Accept the fact that you’re going to smell like alcohol all night. Beer will drip on your sleeves, you will spill liquor on your shoes and you will just have to deal.
- Keep your fingernails short. There’s nothing more disgusting than having to clean ashtrays and getting the grime stuck under your nails.
- You have the opposite schedule of everyone else with “normal jobs.” I never see my flatmates because they wake up early to go to school and work and come home after I’ve already left for work. When I get home they’re already asleep. It’s hard to have friendships and relationships when you’re always working when other people want to go out, which is why you become closer with your coworkers.
- Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes you will hate it, but there’s never a dull moment.
And to make you feel better about all those annoying customers, watch The Bartender Hates You.