How to tend bar in a country where you don’t speak the language – Part 2

Words by Fraser Campbell. 

Monday October 6th, 2014. 

During my initial tenure at Betty Ford’s, I endeavored to memorise and practice several key bar related phrases to break myself into Spanish.  Whenever someone ordered a bottle of beer for example, I would follow up with “Quieres un vaso?”, which translates as “Would you like a glass?”

That is of course, if you pronounce it properly.

The inherent pitfalls of self-administering a new language from Youtube and Spanish handbooks became all too apparent when I attempted conversing with the locals of Barcelona three or four nights per week, starting one year ago.

In Spain, the sound of the letters ‘b’ and ‘v’ at the start of the word melt together to form a ‘bvvvv.’ noise.  For the first few months I had been pronouncing ‘vaso’  as ‘vayse-o’ (like the American pronunciation of ‘Vase’), as opposed to the actual pronunciation of ‘Vah-so’.

I had noticed over those first few months, several bewildered looks from customers when I asked that question.  One day a gentleman whom I had just served a beer to along with “¿Quieres un vaso?”, gave me that same look of befuddlement and said “Why did you just ask me if I wanted a kiss with that?”

With the Spanish word for kiss being ‘beso’ (bvvase-o), you can see where the confusion occurred.

A similar faux pas occurred during the first month while explaining to some guests that we had sold out of chicken burgers.  The Spanish word for ‘chicken’ is the same as the Italian word; ‘pollo’ (poh-yo). Whilst trying to construct the whole sentence in my head, I mispronounced ‘pollo’ and said ‘poh-ya’.  With the whole table in fits of laughter, one of the customers who was semi-fluent in English told me I had just said; “Sorry guys, but we’re all out of penis burgers.”

As a bartender, your best tool is always going to be your chat. (Unless you are me, and you only know shite dad jokes.)  When you can’t converse with the punters as you normally would, it’s akin to working behind a bar with one thousand cocktails on the menu and the only recipe you know is for a Cosmo.

Essential reading.

Essential reading.

In the beginning I wasn’t 100% certain if I was being spoken to in Catalan or Castalleno.  Reverting to smiling, nodding and saying ‘Claro’ – ‘understood/clear’ was nine times out of ten, a winner.

Trying to deal with an irate customer always made for an interesting situation.  I’m glad to say this has not happened too often as people tend to be extremely chilled out in BCN, as long as they get their money’s worth when you slide the glass over the bar.

I do remember one señora loca (crazy lady) in particular about six months back who claimed I had short-changed her, with the old; “But I gave you a fifty!” when it was very much a ten.  I didn’t know how to cool her down with my limited Spanish and my frustration at not being able to communicate what I wanted to say didn’t help diffuse the situation.  The whole scene ended up looking like a Charlie Chaplin sketch with me gesturing to the till and waving my arms like an injured seagull, with her running back and fourth to the bar like Benny Hill on speed.

The best comfort about Betty’s is that the majority of the customers speak at least basic English, with many being very fluent, the crew included.  That being said, there were several moments where there were some classic communication problems with myself and some of my co-workers who spoke less English at the time, or were just slightly rusty.

For example at about 11.30pm one evening, one of my favourite work pals, Sandra, came out from the kitchen and proclaimed; “The chicken is closed!”  From then on that became the official call when the burgers stopped sizzling. There definitely seems to be a correlation between Spanish/English mispronunciations and poultry.

I took it upon myself to start teaching Juan (one of our Argentinean chefs) English one shift whilst it was quiet.  In return he started helping me out with Spanish phrases when I came into the kitchen.  It became an enjoyable and entertaining ‘intercambio’ (Exchange).  Eventually the lessons slowed down and all he really says in English now is; “What’s up, motherfucker?”

I’ll pass on one piece of valuable advice if you’re keen to learn Spanish (or possibly any other language) at any point; don’t bother learning phrases initially that you’re not going to use on daily basis.  I tried using a language app when I first moved here, which gave me laughable phrases to learn such as “I have three cats and one elephant” or even relatively useful questions like “What time is the train coming?”

Myself with Juan the man.

Myself with Juan the man.

Do however learn how key letters and syllables are pronounced.  Spending enough time listening to customers chatting and asking questions, helped me along in this respect.

After every shift I’d write down three or four phrases or questions that I didn’t know such as “do you want ice with that?” or “get out of the way please, I need to get into the cupboard.”  The next day I’d track down the translations and learn several new ones before every shift during the thirty minute walk to the bar.

As everything I needed to work in the bar related to ordering and prices, it made it much easier when going to shops, cafes and restaurants which are daily and weekly occurrences.  Let’s face it, 95% of learning anything new is just relentless practice.

Whenever someone approached the bar and said something I hadn’t heard yet, such as “¿dónde puedo comprar cigarrillos?” (Where can I buy cigarettes?), it was usually a case of listening out for a key word and pointing to one of the adjacent shops, while saying “ahi” (there.)  Then eventually “tres puertas mas abajo en la tienda de kebab.” –> “Three doors down in the kebab shop.”

My saving grace through this learning curve has definitely been my work pals and many of the Betty’s customers, who aren’t afraid to pull me up when my tongue slips up.  So thank you Dave, Jo, Carles, Sandra, Adriano, Rodriguo, Juan, Jess and the regular rascals.

Without further ado, I’d like to pass on some useful questions & phrases (below) that you can use in the bar if you visit Mexico, South America or when you drop into Betty Ford’s for a couple of chupitos.  Just bear in mind there are subtle accent and pronunciation changes depending on where you are.

It goes without saying that I encourage you bartenders to take advantage of working somewhere that is not one of the major English speaking cities that you would normally be drawn to.  Go somewhere where can dip your tongue into an unfamiliar language for a year or more.  In the long term, the opportunities as a bartender, brand ambassador or within other hospitality roles around the globe will grow to be boundless.



The GBE Spanglish Mini-Guide for Bars

Bartender to guest

Que quieres tomar? – What would you like to drink?

Que te pongo? – What can I get for you? (For more than one person is Que os pongo?)

Quieres la carta para comer y bebidas? – Would you like the food and drink menu?

Que bebe? – What do you drink?

Que sabores le gustar? – What flavours do you like?

Quieres hielo? – Would you like ice?  – (hielo is pronounced like ‘yellow’.)

Quieres algo mas? – Would you like anything else?

Quieres otro? – Would you like another?

Quieres un vaso? – Would you like a glass?

Quieres un beso? – Would you like a kiss?

Chupito? – Shot?


Guest to bartender

Tienes un menu/carta de cocteles? – Do you have a cocktail menu (the most important question, after all.)

Me puedes dar un Old Fashioned, pero no muy dulce. – I’d like an Old Fashioned, but not too sweet.

Esa coctel estaba muy bueno, quiero otro por favor. – This cocktail was very good, I would like another please.

Que zumos tienes? – What juices do you have?  (words with a ‘z’ at the start have a ‘th’ pronunciation in Spain.  In South America, it would be pronounced like ‘sumo.’)

Que cervesas tienes? – What beers do you have?  (a ‘c’ before an ‘i’ or an ‘e’ is always pronounced as a ‘s’ sound.  – ser-vay-sa.)

Cuanto cuesta? – How much is that?

Me cobras con tarjeta? – Can I pay with card?

Dónde está el baño? – Where is the toilet?

Tienes algo para picar? – Do you have any bar snacks?

Quiero un whisky sin hielo, por favor? – I’d like a whisky without ice, please.

Mas/Menos hielo por favor – More/Less ice please.

Tienes un jarra de propinas? – Do you have a tip jar?  (Jarra is pronounced ‘harra’.)

Tienes una mesa para cuatro? – Do you have a table for four?

A qué hora cierra? – What time do you close?

Me puedes cargar mi movil por favor? – Can you charge my phone please?

Tres chuptios de tequila por favor. – Three shots of tequila please.

Me gustaria la Michelada muy picante. – I would like a Michelada, very spicy.


Saying Excuse Me

Disculpe/Disculpeme – To get attention from a bartender/waiter

Con Permiso – To get past someone

Perdone – If you bump into someone

Concerning Visas, without having to concern yourself.

Words by Fraser Campbell
Friday 23rd May, 2014.

It’s understandable that when you decide to head overseas to work for the first time, trying to set up a job would seem like the number one priority.  As a bartender however, it’s one of the last things you should put on your to do list.

Bar jobs come and go within days or weeks.  If all you are doing is thinking about moving to Canada in 9 months time, then you need to get into research mode and figure out where bureaucracy is going to give you some challenges.

Here are some tidbits of information about how to organise and secure your visa so you can start planning and booking those tickets.

Pick your destination wisely

A good place to start is to find out what visas are available to you based on where you are from, which you can do on various websites such as this page on wikipedia.  Then do as much researchpassGBE as possible using the local government websites for each country, and asking well travelled or expat bartenders for advice.  Several countries have restrictions on how many visas they hand out each year for travellers too.

 Which visa?

The most obvious one to research first is a Working Holiday Visa, this will generally give you one year to work legally, often with a 6 month limitation per job. The age restriction is usually between 18-30, though places like New Zealand have visas for people up to age 35.

Sponsorship visas can be much more complicated, involving lawyers, hefty application fees and lengthy processing times.  You would be working for the same employer for 2 – 4 years, so this avenue is better left for once you have found the bar of your dreams, in a location you love, with reciprocal respect and appreciation for your boss.

How long will the visa take to process?

Some visas can go through in 24 hours or a couple of days, but I know of people who have had to wait three or four months to hear back from medical and police checks.  Again, this depends on where you are from and where you’re headed.

 When does the visa begin?

Visas commence when you land in the country and your passport gets scanned by border security. If you leave the country for a few months to go travelling, your visa will generally not be put on hold until you get back, so do your extended travelling either side of your working time to make the most of it.  If you do not have a return ticket in some cases, it may affect your entry into the country.

How can I extend the visa?

Countries such as Australia have a second working year visa which you can get from doing three months of seasonal work in your first year.  For this you have to supply evidence of having worked at a farm for example, using payslips and tax numbers with the correct dates.

If you have found someone who is willing to sponsor you, find out if:

– They have successfully sponsored an employee before

– Are willing to cover the application costs and possible legal fees (it can land anywhere between $2000 – $10,000)

Also, if you end up on a bridging visa during this process, make sure you are legally allowed to work by consulting with the immigration department before you proceed.   

 What happens when you overstay your visa?

Immigration departments are ruthless and unforgiving bureaucrats, and will slap you with a ban from returning to the country for the next few years or possibly longer if you overstay your visa even by a single day.  Make sure you plan a good exit strategy when you organise your trip.

  How much money will I need to get a visa and get into the country?

The working visas themselves are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $100 – $200 or more in most instances.  Many applications will state that you need a certain amount of money in the bank to acquire the visa, and sustain yourself on the off chance you don’t get work.  The strictness of these checks will again vary from country to country, but it’s wise to aim for at least $2000 to take with you, even if you’re planning on working straight away.

 What else do I need to work overseas?

You’ll need a tax/social security number, which you can try for online, or by tracking down the nearest consulate for that country and apply in person.  It’s advisable to set up a bank account online so you can pick up your bank card when you land.  Many countries now have a responsible service of alcohol certificate, which you have to do once you get there, most employers won’t look at you twice if you don’t have one.  Travel and health insurance is not necessary for working, but very advisable if you are not working on a contract and you damage yourself in the line of duty.

 Aside from that . . .

Have a blast on your travels and make good use of the GBE to research, network and look for a job when you arrive!

The Global Jigger Monthly Measure – May Edition.

Tuesday May 6th, 2014.

Words by Fraser Campbell. 

Good day renegades, rascals and rapscallions.

It’s been a busy little month on the GBE jobs boards since the unveiling of The Global Jigger, so we thought we would pull all the ads together and create a global listing for you guys to browse through.

Jigger measure

From Australia to the USA, we have over 20 ads of bars hiring and cocktail slingers available for you. To access the full ads, log in to your GBE account first (or create one here) and then come back to this page and click away on the ads listed down the page.

We are going to start doing this monthly, so if you would like to get your ad up for next month, check out The Global Jigger video below for a quick demonstration.



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Tel Aviv
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New Zealand

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Social media tips for bartenders – Job Hunting

I know that those of you who have been in this industry for the past 10 years or more will be fully aware that this fine era of bartending culture flourished and became vastly interconnected with the arrival of social media in the mid-noughties.

Though individual networking between bartender friends and contacts became rife very quickly, Facebook groups, LinkedIn forums and other adaptable facets were not readily used by the industry to share job opportunities until post 2010.  Before then, folks ‘in the know‘ were hanging out on websites such as The Chanticleer Society and (the now sadly closed) Barbore to communicate about jobs, cocktail recipes and post shift banter.

Though they exploded at the same time, the parallel between bartending culture and social media lacks a very specific balance pertaining to training or guidelines for the people of this industry, and for a very simple reason.  Booze companies care how you push and mix their products, but aside from us here at GBE HQ, (and possibly your landlord) you are the only person who gives a hoot about how you promote yourself for your next bar gig.

Since the inception of the GBE 2 years ago, I have been paying daily attention to the way that bartenders conduct themselves in their employment searching endeavours via our various social media groups.  I often watch people squandering opportunities to advertise their skills, experience and enthusiasm for reasons that can probably be partly blamed on the flighty textual habits that have bled into our subconscious from an excess of tweeting and updating while on the move.

Moreover, without any specific guidelines, writing a job ad – or replying to one- from scratch on Facebook results in more opportunities to neglect basic, necessary and obvious personal information such as an email address.

So here you go, feast your eyes on some tips and ideas for job hunting online, to help you optimise your chances of that next encounter with your future boss.

Improve your personal brand

In today’s overly voyeuristic world, 90% of potential employers will hunt you down on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google to find any information that your CV does not already tell them.  It’s very much worth your time to give your social network profiles a quick tidy up before you get professionally perved on.

The Profile Pic

Selfies: Bartenders, by trade and nature are the most sociable creatures on Earth.  If you cannot approach another human being to ask them to hold a camera for 5 seconds, is potentially unlikely that you can approach a table of strangers and strike up a conversation whilst suggesting a plethora of tasty and revenue generating options.

‘The extremely focused bartender’: There is nothing wrong with taking your craft seriously, but this does necessarily not mean you have to look serious.  Smile for the camera, compadres!

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 1.12.19 PM

Pixilated/Bad quality: With more or less every mobile phone and hand held computer having an 8 megapixel camera, there’s no excuses really.

No profile pic: Just plain lazy or being hunted by the FBI?

Work history and other info

We screen about 100 members waiting to join our GBE Facebook groups every other day.  About 30% get rejected for being fake or having no available information pertaining to their bar-tending history or enthusiasm for working in the industry.

It’s worth your time to update your work history, including your current or most recent bar job and relative achievements across all of your social networks before starting the job hunt.

When to start selling yourself

“Hey guys I need a job but I won’t be there until next year!” Bar jobs will come and go within a few days or weeks, and the bar manager will want to meet you in person.  Though there is nothing wrong with getting the feelers out for advice in advance.  For example, info on how to attain an alcohol service certificate or how long you can work for the same employer on a work visa. 

And now that you are in town: Put yourself into the shoes of a bar manager looking for staff.  What days and times are they most likely going to be sitting on their laptops?  Ask any bar manager when their admin or office days are and I guarantee 99% will say between Tuesday and Thursday.  On the flip side, you may be aware that getting a bar manager to look at your CV on a hectic Saturday night, is a fairly terrible idea.

Also . . .

Get in front of the right audience: This applies specifically to the difference between using your newsfeed or specified forums, groups and websites.  Ideally you want your post or ad to be seen firsthand by the person that is going to hire you.  Do some research on which forum or websites the local bar crews are using to find staff.

P.S: If you are using the GBE global forum, posting a query asking if there are “any jobs going in America??“, will probably guarantee you zero helpful replies.  Be specific with your queries, and you will secure great leads and useful responses from the GBE crew.

Scripting your response

You’re not posting a status update about being slapped in the face with a frozen chicken, you are applying for paid employment.  Jovial, lighthearted and original ads are great, but writing; “GIVE ME A FAAAAAKIN JOB INNIT!!” is not going to secure you a cracking bar position and leave you with jingling pockets.

Work experience:  Avoid writing your life history or writing “I’ve worked all over the shop and make banging drinks, ask anyone!” Sum up your relevant experience in one or two concise sentences, written like a mini covering letter.

GBE profile of the Month, Alex.
GBE profile of the Month: Alex Marshall.

Or, you can just include a screen shot of your fully updated GBE profile, which has all the necessary fields laid out for you.

Tip: Screen shot for Mac = Shift & apple & 4, then drag and select.

For Windows = Click the window you want to capture. Press Alt+Print Screen by holding down the Alt key and then pressing the Print Screen key.

Comma again?: True, you’re not being hired for your journalistic prowess or proofreading abilities. Though attention to detail behind the bar counts, as does being able to write legible bar menus, chalk boards and the like.

Give me spaces: Treat your message or email as a covering letter, breaking up your post into short paragraphs. When detailing info about yourself try using bullet points, it will make it easier on the eyes for your future boss and everyone else reading.  Also, if someone has to click ‘see more’ to read your full post, it’s probably a smidgeon long.

“Just PM me!”: I have seen a truly baffling amount of posts without email addresses or telephone numbers included.  Telling people to send you a private message on Facebook can be treacherous, as recent updates to their messaging services include some messages from individuals not on your friends list, being sent to the mostly spam filled abyss that is ‘the other folder.‘ Always provide an alternate means of contact.

For some reason, Mark Zuckerberg does not want you to find the 'Others.'

For some reason, Mark Zuckerberg does not want you to find the ‘Others.’

“I’m just swinging through town!”:  Honesty is great, but a few months is usually how long it takes to properly break in a new bartender. It’s unlikely you will get many bar managers knocking down your door. If you are only stopping in a city for a short period of time but need to recuperate your $dineros, enquire about contact details for events companies, who generally pay very well for one off appearances (though in some cases a few months after the event.)

Catching and holding attention

“Sex!” pics & Videotapes: It is a statistical fact that social media posts with images (and unexpected opening words) get more attention. But try and refrain from the following . . .

“HEY GUYS!!!! I’M LOOKING FOR A JOB GUYS!!!!!!!!”: Enthusiasm is fantastic, but these posts written entirely in capital letters are generally met with the very justified comment: “Please stop shouting.

Still not getting any love?

“I’ve missed rent, help meeeeeeee!!! “: No one cares (or more importantly needs to know) if you are penniless and in dire need of shifts, they only want to know that you are fantastic at what you do and that you are available.  Re-posting every day will only accentuate your desperation.  (Highlight invisible text for FB group hack ——->) If you get someone to comment on your post, it will go back to the top of the page.

Tag teaming: If you have a bartender friend who can support your claims as being the finest drinks slinger this side of Marrakech, tag them onto your reply to an ad (and perhaps send them a kind message) and they may just elaborate on your sales pitch with an example of your keen skills.

Language barrier:  Not 100% competent with the local language?  Find someone who is and get them to proof read your post.  If you are using Google Translate, do it sentence by sentence, and still send it to someone to proof read before it goes up.

(Right click, save.)

One last tip:  When you find a tasty job ad on the GBE website or forums, stick this image to your left on your covering letter or CV before handing or emailing it to the bar manager, so they know that you are one of the GBE massive.

 That’s all for now, get the recipe right, and you shall reap the reward of useful correspondence.  Throw up a haphazard, off the cuff, rushed, desperate and clumpy post that looks like a giant text turd, and empty inboxes and pockets ye shall have.

If you’re having problems tracking down a job or you have a query about how best to use the GBE website to post a successful job ad (or you want to tell me to f*** off for being a grammar nazi), put together an informative message and send it to me at: or fill out the wee form below.

Thanks for swinging past, and all the best with your job hunting endeavours.



Aforementioned websites:






Bartender vs. the Internet

By F. Campbell

Jimmy peeled his head from the pillow, like a week old bandaid being pulled slowly from a hairy arm.  His raspy tongue raking the roof of his mouth, trying to gauge how much moisture was present. The final verdict; an arid and paltry 5%.  A few swigs of tepid council juice later, and the overall texture had developed to an improved 50% level of buttery and clammy.

Before attempting to cause any further upheaval to his atrophied carcass, Jimmy steered his hand through the clutter on the bedside table to reach his phone so he could self-administer some motivation, by checking the time.

The night before while at work, Jimmy had been having a lengthy and passionate debate with his co-workers about reverse ageing whisky using albino oak barrels and muslin cloth made from golden fleece.  He promptly resolved to do some research online, then source the necessary equipment and get to work.

After realising that it was 2 hours later than he had planned on getting up, Jimmy clicked on his Facebook app so that he could lament his dilemma to the world.


Jimmy’s eyes widened like a dramatic Tarsier, as the stark contrast of blue and red, created electrical signals that stimulated the plot of cortical real estate in his brain called The Narcissticissumus procrastimus.

Injecting his finger into the hotspot of numbers opened layers of channels to networking possibilities, meaningful interaction and numerous social mementos.

Before attending to all these matters however, Jimmy’s attention was re-directed to a pertinent ping from elsewhere.

He closed his Facebook app and saw the figure “2” swathed in red, hovering over his Twitter app. He pressed his finger down and his mind was catapulted into the Twitter-sphere.


Whilst browsing his feed, he caught glimpse of a link tweeted by a fellow bartender entitled “The 50 best electric barspoons in the world”, and couldn’t resist having a peek.  After getting to number thirteen on the list, The Ivory Death Spindler, he saw a link below it entitled; “How to bartend whilst on fire!”

” . . . ON FIRE, JIMMY.”

By midday, Jimmy knew that his creative window was shrinking faster than the height of his great granny.  In a jolt of determination, he vigourously updated his brain status; “Time to produce the goods, to the laptop!”





After fifteen minutes of staring at his empty status box in frustration, Jimmy’s eyes strolled down the screen and observed  what appeared to be a lengthily 56 comment debate about the Manhattan stemming from another bartender’s status update.

The second last comment was written by a Geoffrey Wan, not a name that Jimmy could put a face to. After hovering the cursor over his name, the profile picture that jumped out only eluded to Geoffrey’s admiration of Groundskeeper Willie.

“Manhattans taste better when made with Scottish rum, Irish rum, pink vermouth from Japan . . .”, Geoff had written.

Jimmy’s started clenching his fists tightly. His knees began to sweat as he ground his molars together, and a swell of contempt and disbelief crept up his back like a thousand marching ants out for a jog, wearing white hot needles for shoes.

The rest of the comment remained locked out of sight, hidden by those two resonating words “SEE MORE.” Jimmy couldn’t bring himself to read the rest of Geoff’s callous and ignorant opinion.


“No, I shouldn’t . . . ”  Jimmy re-updated his brain status.



Jimmy guided the cursor slowly towards the emboldened words, and once the pointer transformed into the Mickey Mouse hand, he clicked.

” . . . and Sheep’s hoof bitters, stirred for for 13.5 seconds with a plastic straw and one ice cube.”



Without a second brain status, he clicked his cursor into the vacant comment box and began typing.

“Geoff you and your opinion remind me of the maggots I found eating a three day old sandwich in my bin where did you learn to mix drinks In the Derek Zoolander school for bartenders who want to bartend gooder than other more gooder bartenders but can’t smell good or taste good so they grab bottles blindly and pour wildly while trying to lick their own elbow YOU MALFORMED GENITAL PUPPETEER! fuktfuty6ufkty6ukft6futkuufktkuf6ukft6ufkt6uftk6uftuftk6uf6tfu6”

Jimmy always felt much better after pounding the keyboard with his face.  Even more so, once his comment was bolstered with 37 likes. “Righto”, he retyped into his mental status “time for some fruitful Googling.”

“0 search results for golden fleece in albino oak barrels for reverse ageing whisky”

“0 Search results for ‘golden fleece in albino oak barrels”



“Well this is going nowhere!”, Jimmy re-typed, “Maybe I should ask for someone’s advice on LinkedIn.”

After verifying the various skills of some lovely individuals he’d never met, he’s eyes were captured by the link to an article, entitled; “50 mobile apps that help you find your house keys, that you need to download.”


By 4pm, Jimmy found himself sharing an entertaining video on Youtube called “Near topless Playboy models make Daiquiris with Bourbon and Sour Mix”, across all of his social media channels.


By 5.45pm Jimmy slumped in his chair, realising that the time had come to start getting ready for work so he closed his laptop.

He sat there thinking about his reverse-aged whisky for a few minutes.  He imagined what the final colour would be; “clear but tainted with a pale straw hue maybe?”

He imagined the smell, pondering whether the peaty notes would rescind to yield more grassy and floral aldehydes.  He envisioned a homemade label, with a picture of a golden sheep peeing on an Albino Oak tree. The texture and feel of the label slowly morphing from top to bottom, from ancient and weathered, like a pirates treasure map, into a clean and freshly printed label.

Jimmy stretched out his stiff legs and got up from his chair. He picked up a crumpled shirt from the floor next to his bed and opened the bedroom door.  Whilst raking in the hallway cupboard trying to find where his housemates had hidden the iron, Jimmy heard a beeping sound coming from his room.

He abandoned his search and tossed his crumpled shirt over the cupboard door, and sauntered back to his bedroom. He looked over to his bedside table where a second beep came from.

Jimmy scrolled through his screen until he noticed a new text message from his boss, John.

“Hey Jimmy, we’ve got a last minute tasting organised tomorrow in the bar with Geoff Wan, the International Brand Ambassador for Pinku, the new Vermouth from the outskirts of Tokyo. I’ve told him you’re the man to talk to about the history of the Manhattan, as he admits he is still wet behind the ears when it comes to cocktails.  Can you come in for 3pm to help him mix up some tasty treats? Cheers, J.”

“Geoffrey Wan.”

Jimmy sat down on the bed staring at the screen, and felt a raw, hot flush compounded with the uncomfortable formation of beads of sweat on his forehead.

As he stared at his bedroom floor while searching through his database of reasonable excuses, his phone vibrated and beeped in his hand once again.









How to tend bar in a country where you don’t speak the language – Spanglish Edition.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a mild sense of trepidation.  As I dodged the path of oncoming tourists and purveyors of cheap cerveza (beer), my thoughts were fixated on one minor detail: my complete lack of fluency in Spanish.  I kept imagining ridiculous scenarios where I would be the Scottish equivalent of Manuel from Fawlty Towers, struggling to deconstruct basic requests with outlandish hand gestures. Though, as with most of the negative fantasies we taunt ourselves with, the reality of it is never as bad as we make it out to be.  On the whole I was very excited to be getting back behind the stick, after a very relaxing 3 month hiatus.  New city, new bar & new challenges. But let’s just say that last night, I redefined the term ‘Winging It.’

"Si . . . Que? . . . What?"

“Si . . . Que? . . . What?”

Earlier in the afternoon I had sat down and practiced counting to 100, then typed out a list of random prices to test myself.  *“Viente uno, tres y cuatro por favor.” (21, 34 please). “Cuarenta dos, cinquenta por favor” (42,50 please).  It’s fairly easy to get the hang of once you can count to 10, and then 10, 20, 30, 40 etc. Though later that evening I mispronounced ‘cinquenta’ (fifty) more than a few times, not to mention I kept saying dollars instead of euros! After 5 years working down under, that habit will take some perseverence to eradicate.

When I stepped into the bar at 7.45pm, it was fairly quiet.  I was greeted by Carles who I’d meet the week before when handing in my CV. A top guy with a passion for hospo and making his own films and documentaries.  Sipping on a pre-shift Negra Modelo, we bantered about bar-tending until the owner, Dave, made an appearance.  An extremely laid back chap from Adelaide, who set the bar up 6 years prior after success with a previous establishment called Flamingos.

The bar itself is quite small and intimate, with a legal capacity of just over 50.  A self-proclaimed dive bar that dabbles in cocktails, with about a dozen different cerveza, a varied range of spirits and liqueurs with no particular focus but I was glad to see that there was an Islay heavy malt selection. Burgers and fries for snacks coming out of a 2ft x 2ft kitchenette.  Nae bad.

No messing around, time to get to it.  After a quick tour of the bar, I examined the cocktail station thoroughly.  When you are coming from a bar where you’ve spent three years perfecting the set up, not being able to find a fine strainer or a speed rail on your first night is mildly concerning.  But new city, new bar & new challenges.

While it was quiet, Dave got me making some cocktails for the regulars to sample my repertoire.  In between I would go over to the till to examine the layout and try and figure out what all the bloody buttons said.  Just then, a young lady named Jo had just clocked on (who coincidentally studies ‘Translation’) and gave me a quick tour highlighting the important ones. You also have to understand that Barcelona, is a city of two mother tongues. The local lingo is Catalan, which is a romance language local to parts of Spain, Italy, France and Andorra.  I’m 90% certain that the till buttons were in Spanish.

Being a Thursday night, I definitely wasn’t in the deep deep end, but it started filling up quickly.  Even if my Spanish was 60%-70% strong, I would still have trouble understanding some of the punters at the rate they spoke and over the pumping tunes.  I think I said “Mi Espanol es malo”(My Spanish is bad) around seventy times throughout the night.  A common order for “Una cana” (a tap beer), about the same size as an Aussie schooner, was frequent. All in all, most of the customers spoke at least a little English to make the transaction smooth enough.  There’s much to be said for body language and hand gestures in a situation like that, along with an excess amount of smiling and nodding.

After the first two hours of orientating, deciphering, ducking and diving behind the cramped bar space, freestyling drinks, and partaking in a few ‘team meetings’ (that’s shots of hard booze, for the non-hospos) I was loosening up and enjoying myself immensely. My girlfriend and some of our new friends dropped in for cocktails to see how I was getting on, which meant I had a least one table I could converse with successfully when I ducked out onto the floor. Barcelona being the tourist haven that it is, there was a heady mix of British, German, Scandinavian and the like. Most of whom speak some basic English.

By 2am, Dave agreed to lock me in for three shifts a week to start with. I also sold him on my cocktail menu designing experiences and he agreed to give me some extra hours so I could help him put together some new winter cocktails.  The team who are knitted together more tightly than a baby’s mitten, were very accommodating and promised to jump in when I was floundering linguistically like a drunk baby seal with one flipper.  In the meantime, back to the books for me.

So if you find yourself rambling around Barcelona in the near future, stop by Betty Ford’s (Carrer de Joaquín Costa, El Raval) and pull up a stool, where you’ll no probably hear the locals groaning at my worst puns and dad jokes, or laughing at my attempts to successfully  translate them!



* Feel free to correct me if you are fluent in Spanish. 

What to do in the likely event of an event.

Seeking education or a collaboration? Making friends or discussing trends? Maybe you’re networking because you’re not yet working. Likely getting loose on distilled agave juice! Hell, there’s no shortage of opportunities for us barkeeps at the plethora of events we have thrown at us today, especially if you are fresh on the tarmac.

Iron Bartender - Melbourne's monthly Sunday meet up.

Iron Bartender – Melbourne’s monthly Sunday meet up.

Prior to the uprising of social media, you’d need a few hundred flyers and emails to help spread word about your well organised shindig for the hospo hub. Now we’ve very much adapted to and come to ferociously rely on popular social applications designed for the masses, to spread the word to our bartender friends.  But to create a platform which is more accessible for bartenders and organisers to exchange event details in cities around the globe, we’re going to need to think outside of the Facebox.

Making it our own

The concept of having a central community hub for our industry has led to dozens of groups being created on Facebook by bartenders and brand ambassadors worldwide. From mixology societies to whisky clubs and so on, the ease of communication (and constant notification) has made it easy for us to tailor social media to our needs. However the segregation of groups and division of personal contacts means that you won’t have access to what’s happening if you’ve just landed in a new town, unless you know someone in the know, who knows a group, where you need to get added, who’s hosting an open event, which was posted 6 days ago.

Yeah . . . sure, I’ll be there

Have you ever looked at an event invite from one of your industry pals (or anyone for that matter) on Facebook and wondered why you’re being invited to an event 2,347 miles away? This is not to say the sentiment is not appreciated, they desperately want you to be at their party. Or did they just select all of their hospo industry friends list and hit ‘invite.’ Eitherway, as Facebook is tailored to individuals scattered worldwide, there will often be a slew of events filling up your social calendar that are just a wee bit too far out of town to realistically make it to.

Pick a city, any city

We’d hope if there were a calendar with industry events just for your bar scene that organisers could coordinate with one another so we’re not all scratching our heads on Monday afternoon wondering which of the four competitions that start at 7pm we’re going to make it to. Or just landed in London? Check out what’s happening around town and see if you can’t make some new pals over a few boilermakers.

For those of you who remember the hilarity and camaraderie of the synchronised cocktail shaking frenzy that was ‘Global Rematch Beeyatch‘, you’ll understand the potential possibilities of picking any city to pimp out your hoot-nanny to the local bar keeps.

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 2.28.03 PM

GBE Calendar Version 0.1. Version 0.2 will be sexier.

The good news is we’ve already strapped all the prototype calendars together using sellotape and uploaded them to our website. Admittedly, it’s not where it could be yet. And it’s going to take a gigantic, colossal, gargantuan, team effort to get it where it should be.

Here’s how you can get in the mix:

Help the GBE go mobile!

Luckily for us, long gone are the days of the extending aerial and brick shaped nonsenses. We are currently doing a re-design and developing our mobile apps, all of your feedback will be very crucial in making this a very handy tool for us all. We tend to be very receptive to criticisms, comments and shots of tequila. Not to mention if you would like sacrifice a few pennies to help us make it rock your socks, we will give you thanks, send you GBE barblades, jiggers and some funky travelling bar kits.

Check out for more details and help us by sharing the link with all of your bartender pals.  The sooner we hit our goal, the faster we can get the app ‘appening!

Take the Calendar for a Spin

1)    Log in/Create profile on our website (due to some linking technicalities, please type in – ‘’ in your browser. It won’t take too long, promise.)

2)    Click on ‘Events’ tab on the left of the page

3)    Click ‘Create Event’

4)    Enter ‘Test’ as Event title

5)    Go nuts with the details (BUT, keep ‘Exchange’ as Global and month as June please!)

6)    Any feedback you have on ease of use, things that annoy you, factors we’ve missed, then send us a wee message to – Alternatively if you are organising a get together in your city, have a bash at locking it in and let us know how you get on.

Once again, thank you for getting involved. As far as we know this hasn’t been implemented on a global scale so we are very excited and also slightly terrified to see what happens.


Fraser and Hannah.


Global Bartenders Day 2013 >>> Time to Dress Up Your Drink!

This year, thanks to the support of you all, the Global Bartender Exchange has flourished. For our 1st anniversary, and to recognize the skills, creativity and hospitality demonstrated daily by you, we’re launching ‘Global Bartenders Day.’

Why Global Bartenders Day? Well with increased connectivity and efforts to bring this community closer, what we’ve most noticed is exemplary hospitality.

The last 12 months we’ve witnessed changes, events, and charity large and small, which epitomize the bartender brethren. Look at the Global support for Murray Stenson, Uros Miljkovic or the work of those involved in the Bartenders Fund. Then there’s the support for your local community (bushfire appeals, hurricane appeals, charitable calendars for cancer) or joining together and signing on to support the Tequila Interchange Project (TIP). Just by understanding how subsidies affect rum producers, and how this may affect small (delicious) rum producers is creating positive awareness.

For us, your support and contribution over the past 12 months has been the key factor in making the Global Bartender Exchange a success. We have, and will continue to, work hard to create the space for you to post shots, share industry events, and ask questions/advice of the local and international bartending massive.

This industry is equal parts fun, hospitality, community, sensational drinks, and creativity, and it’s your involvement that makes it happen. Take a step back and enjoy what you have all created, and toast the global bartending community for constantly helping each other out.

Here’s to bartending!



To kick Global Bartenders Day off, and to celebrate the launch of our new photo galleries aptly named ‘Shots’ on the GBE website, we invite you to DRESS UP YOUR DRINK.  Consider this a friendly competition to see which bartender out there has the most outstanding and O.T.T. garnishing skills.

All you have to do is:

1. Dress up your drink as your favourite cartoon character/guitarist/villain etc, using whatever bar sundries (napkins/straws), garnishes/fruit you have lying around your bar.

2. Take a photo of it.

3. Upload it to the ‘Dress Up Your Drink 2013’ album in ‘Shots’ on the ‘Global’ forum on

4. Type in your name, bar/company & which city you work in when you upload your picture.

5. Let the shenanigans commence.

On March 6th with the help of an International Judging Panel, we will select the best-dressed drink, using the following criteria:

– Most clever use of garnishes and bar equipment (10 points)

– Uncanny likeness of the drink to its inspiration (10 points)

– Overall creativity (10 points)


Your own mini back bar compete with mini cocktail shaker and mini bitters, and the crown as the world’s best drinks garnisher!


We will announce the winner via the Global forum on out website on Global Bartenders Day (March 6th) so check it between shots and shifts. We’re looking forwards to seeing some outstanding, creative and comical entries from you all, and if you have any questions please get in touch with us –



A Venture into the land of the Lord of the Isles.

Mr Charlie Graham from Edinburgh, takes us on an insightful tour of Islay. Watch out for Ginger Willies . . .

There’s not many things that will make me get out of bed at midnight at the crossover of Monday and Tuesday. Fire, nuclear war and a collapsing bed (it has happened before) but to drive for four and a half hours into the depths of Argyll to catch a ferry, not one I thought I could add to the list.

So there it was, a half asleep me behind the wheel of a relatively new Volkswagen Polo tearing across the country mumbling down a walkie-talkie and swigging Red Bull. Islay well within our crosshairs.

Islay is a strange and mystical place, it’s very spiritual and near impossible to get to easily. In a perfect world there would be a ferry from Edinburgh, you can fly but I think it takes away a little of the romance of sailing into the island looking at the distilleries from the coast, their names ablaze on the sea-facing side. The ferry left at 7am and after a rocky crossing we pulled out of the ferry car park at 9am (ish).

It doesn’t take long to realise you are in a particularly special place for the discerning whisky drinker, the first signpost you see tells you that Ardbeg is a mere three miles to the right and Bowmore is slightly further away to the left.

With two hours to kill it was off to Lagavulin to look around the shop.  Now with no disrespect to the actual distillery meant here it looked and felt a lot like the Talisker Distillery on Skye, no surprise as they are both owned by the colossus of the drinks industry DIAGEO.

We then decided to go for a wander up the coast.  This is one of my favourite pastimes, to drive along roads that you know nothing about, in a direction that you know not where and watching the roads get smaller and smaller. Eventually this one decided it was sick of being a road right in the middle of a sheep field. Tentatively turning around in what seemed like a designated car trap we headed back to Ardbeg stopping to visit the Kildalton Cross – purely by accident – on the way back.

After you’ve been to a few distilleries you could be forgiven for thinking they are all the same. In some ways they are, they do after all serve the same purpose, to make whisky. But this one had a very different friendly feel to it from the off, a lot of that was due to our host for the day, Jackie.

Jackie took us on one of the most in-depth tours of a distillery I have ever heard of let alone been on.  She didn’t fill it with the same usual guff that you experience on your usual “We make whisky by fermenting……” and so on and so forth.  The first part of this tour was a cup of coffee.  The second was a dram of a 26 year old Ardbeg that they’d recently found lying about in one of the old offices.

After lunch and another 2 hour long whisky tasting – never be the designated driver when on Islay it just leads to a whole lot of frustration – we vacated Ardbeg with supplies for a camp fire and some lovely crab chowder that had somehow come into our possession.

Now, finding a camp site on a barren island in the southern Hebrides is not as easy as it may seem.  I agree with all this wild camping nonsense that goes on, back to nature and shitting in bushes but shitting in bushes with a 75 mile an hour wind blowing in from behind you is less than ideal, so is any part of camping when the wind is so strong that it can uproot the barley and send it across the road in a form of vegetative blizzard.  We opted for a guest house and cooked the chowder in the bathroom, but that is another story for another time.

The sun was high in the sky – as high as it gets in the Scottish winter – the next morning and we took off reasonably quick sharp heading for the Bruichladdich Distillery, we stopped off at Caol Isla on the way to take a couple of pictures, a quick look around another DIAGEO visitor shop and outta there…

Bruichladdich is out of all the Islay distilleries the most forward thinking (they classify themselves as the progressive distillery) different casks, funky bottles and with a really nice kind of aquamarine theme, it is all very easy on the eye.

A whizz around again, none of the tourist crap you would get with other companies here plain and simple this is our ‘Mash Tun’, this our warehouse and finally this is our shop.  If you were to die and go to heaven and your idea of heaven was a whisky-filled nirvana then I’ve found the place. Bruichladdich on Islay has the most extensive range of whiskies I’ve ever seen.  The most annoying part of being the designated driver is the fact that you can try any whisky (almost) that you can see.  It is at this point that I cherished my bottle of Strathmore water.

From Bruichladdich to Bowmore, not a sentence you will ever get to repeat unless you’ve been there. Crab chowder as lovely as it was failed on the sustenance level.  Bowmore doesn’t have a fish and chip shop. It does however have a cafe, which is basically a fish and chip shop full of school children. We chose lunch time to dive head first into the cafe and we were greeted with the same look you get on any island from a mass gathering of anybody “Where are they from?”.  Bear in mind that when you are driving around Islay everyone waves to each other, it is customary to reply and if you don’t someone will feel like you’re having a bad day, even if they don’t have a clue who you are, wave at them.

Bowmore distillery is situated in Bowmore, right in the centre.  It claims to be the oldest of all the Islay distilleries but it certainly has the most modern approach to welcoming guests, they sit you in front of a DVD.  Strange.  We then got a whistle stop tour of the entire place, whilst spotting people we knew from the DVD, such characters and Ginger Willie (an employee of the distillery with a great name) wander the distillery whilst you are looking around.  Then onto a tasting with a very picturesque view over the water towards Ireland, again don’t be the designated driver on Islay.

With this we were done, a manic 32 hours on an amazing island.  Thank you Islay, and Ginger Willie we saw you on the way out of Bowmore.  Yes we are that group of people that simutaneously pointed at you from the car.

Discovering Delhi: A sneek peek into the Indian Bar Scene

Culturally, India is a challenging country to visit. I initially went to attend India Bar Show (which was unfortunately cancelled), but instead was embraced into a vibrant, intoxicating and inspiring bartending scene. Delhi is a melting pot of differences and a truly invigorating city. Travelling alone, I was exceptionally lucky to be introduced to, and looked after by the one and only Arijit Bose. His hospitality and introductions changed my entire experience of this hectic city.

Every day in Delhi I was surrounded by new flavours and erratic driving along with bars that ranged from grandiose to speakeasy. Everyone I met was friendly, hospitable and ‘yes ma’am we can do that.’ If you have visited India you will know what I mean by this.

I digress, meeting wonderful friends with several years in-country experience such as Tim Judge and Maxime Grivel I was shown the heart of Delhi’s bar scene and able to discuss bartending in terms of Indian culture. Whether it was creating a ‘mini bar-show’ at PCO (Pass Code Only, Speakeasy) or discussing booze limitations, there was a wealth of knowledge shared.

Interesting points to note about bartending in India:

  • In some parts of the country, women are not allowed to bartend after 9pm. Why? In Delhi a few years ago, a customer got angry that a female bartender wouldn’t serve him a drink after the bar had closed. The next day he came back and shot her in the head. There has since been a movie “Jessica Lal” been made, and whilst women are allowed to bartend, many owners prefer for this not to be the case.
  • Here, competitions and bartenders that have competed in international competitions are an inspiration to many aspiring bartenders. There is exceptional talent, with a completely unique take and concept of flavours – that work! Like South Africa, there are limited products, but interesting flavours that bartenders are being inspired to incorporate into their concoctions. Its these twists and a traditional cooking ingredients combined with educated professionalism that is excelling bartenders to higher standards, breaking rules, and moving the craft forward.
  • Whilst now many bartenders see bartending as a career, majority see it as a stepping stone into a management position – something that is of cultural importance (being able to be either in a management or ownership role) being seen as successful in the eyes of your family and loved ones. These mores will not change – like in many countries – unless you are able to credit recognition and begin to culturally redefine being a ‘success.’ Without this, bartenders will continue to see bartending as merely another rung on the ladder in the path to the ‘Top.
  • In terms of growth, it’s prudent to note the substantial investment being made by foreign alcohol companies into the Indian market with local and international products making significant headway.
  • On a final note, I’d like to thank Arijit Bose, Tim Judge, Maxime Grivel, Andy Gaunt, Devender Sehgal , and everyone at PCO for a truly amazing Delhi Experience. Cheers! Till we meet up again