After graduating from the European Bartender School in Phuket, a little over two years ago, I’ve had the chance to work in many different places serving thirsty people their liquid happiness. I had absolutely zero experience in the bartending industry before EBS, but since then I have found myself shaking cocktails in many clubs around Turku. I learned everything I needed to know about the industry from EBS, and I was ready to be part of the biggest family in Turku, the bartenders.
Sweating and having fun while working
My first bartending job was for a staff-leasing company. I got all types of different gigs, usually in a hotel/spa Caribia. They hosted different events, everything from Samba festivals to Stand-up Comedy Clubs. Once the Caribia hosted a huge rave in the pool section, which actually got to the news for being such an insane party with too much nudity, alcohol and other substances.
Sweat takes on a new meaning when you’ve been working 13 hours straight in a humid Pirate Bar next to the hot tubs, surrounded by thousands of techno fanatics on their wild side. It was fun though, we got tipped ridiculously, because the customers had to change their money into “pirate money”. They didn’t understand how much the pirate money was worth, and therefore gave waaaaaay much more tip than they probably intended to! Not complaining though… Anyway, while working at such different events each night, I had to be able to adapt quickly. Fortunately I learned from the best, as I had several shifts at the pool parties hosted at EBS under my belt.At the events where I worked, we usually had a very limited range of spirits to work with, whereas at EBS we learned what the different spirits tasted like, so I knew how to replace one spirit with the other.
Working behind the bar in Hotel Börs
Bartending and Chitchatting in Börs
My first fulltime job as a bartender was in a lobby bar of a busy business hotel called the Börs. Customers in aninternational environment can be demanding, but I pretty much knew what I was doing, which whisky is the smokiest and what liqueur tasted like anise, plus everything in between. Hat tip to a 4-week course ;)
While working in Börs, I also learned the Art of chitchatting. You know, us Fins don’t chitchat with each other. If you talk to a stranger in a bus, you will be labelled a “freak”. When we are naked in sauna (yes, we can be naked with strangers but we don’t talk to them) some very brave individual might ask to put on a little more heat. But that’s as far as it goes. So handicapped as I was, I really had to learn how to chitchat. And while all beginnings are hard (“Hey! Do you know why Hemingway Daiquiri has no sugar in it? No? Well, because he was diabetic! You don’t what? You don’t care? Oh… Okay then…”) I caught on quickly and learned who wants to be left alone and who’s aching for a conversation.Also, never interrupt a Fin with a little small talk if she/he is doing something important like staring out of a window. You’ll kill your tips!
Pouring it up with speed!
After Börs, I started working in a nightclub called “The Showroom”. I had done some occasional gigs in other clubs around Turku, but Showroom was my first real nightclub job. Working in a busy nightclub is very different compared to the lobby bar. I had to work so much faster.This is the point where my training at EBS really kicked in as I was intimately familiar with using both my hands at unrelated tasks and just “knew” my cocktails. Having instructors barking orders at you in quick succession really is very similar to the works of a real bar. The only difference was that the faces kept changing, which made a shift a lot of fun.
Jack Daniel’s is my man for the night.
Overcoming my fears
Looking back, I can say I’ve done something I didn’t think I could ever do. If someone had told me three years ago I would enter a cocktail competition, I would have just laughed. But having gotten a taste for all things cocktail, I ended up competing just a few weeks after my initial course with EBS. I was super nervous, I made it to the toilet way too many times, but when my time came I just acted cool and came in third with my custom-mojito One-Hot-Cooler.
Competing with my nerves at Åbo Open-drink competition.
Considering the travel bug has me now, I will be going to South-East Asia, and find some bartending jobs overseas. Traveling really does become a breeze if you can earn money wherever you like.
And when are you getting a taste for cocktails?
Come down to EBS, do the 4-week course and make friends for life. And once you graduate, go anywhere you like! This is the biggest thing you’ll ever do. See all our course destinations!