What makes a good bartender?

How hard can it be? You pour drinks, you take money and you put in in the register, right?

That’s like saying “Brain surgeon? you cut into cranium, you cut out tumor, you sew the head back up. How hard can it be?”

No, good bartenders are harder to find than left overs at Oprah’s house.

Here’s what good bartenders do and don’t do:

1. No matter how busy the place is they get you a drink within minutes.

2. If the place is empty they engage you in conversation, if you want it. They don’t talk a lot in these cases but they pay attention to you.

3. They know that the TV is to be on sports or the news only. If the joint was empty and they were watching a movie they switch it when you sit down.

4. They handle drunks, loud mouths and trouble makers quickly and elegantly in ways that go almost unnoticed. A guy gets a little loud and drops and F-Bomb, they get a look, then they get a whisper and then they get told to leave.

5. They know how to break up a fight efficiently. They don’t hurdle the bar and start slamming people around. Like a hockey ref, they wait for their opportunity, intervene and get the fighters out the door. It’s all about getting them out the door.

6. They stay out of conversations they aren’t involved in. If they are in the conversation they can get as involved as they want, as long as no one has to wait for a drink. They don’t intrude.

7. When the phone rings they don’t say anyone is there. They say they’ll look. If you’re there but don’t want others to know, the bartender says “I haven’t seen ’em.”

8. They don’t spin bottles and juggle glasses. They have a complete economy of motion and don’t look hurried.

9. They tip you off when the food isn’t good. “Stay away from the turkey salad.” “The wings look small this week.” or “i didn’t care for the chili myself.” Trust what they say. They eat there.

10. They don’t primp. Their hygiene is good and they’re presentable. Over concern about hair, too much attention to fashion, trendy looks, slick approaches to female customers are out. If they want to do that on their free time, fine. But this isn’t a stage to score chicks.

There’s far too much serious work to be done.