“Be a Bat-tender!”

Updated: February 1, 2014

About the author,

Elton Marvin Jr. has worked in the food and beverage industry mostly in Las Vegas and surrounding areas for a total of eighteen years (as of 2014), working as a bartender from 2001-present.  . In this capacity he has been trained by some of the most well known and profitable bartenders in the industry.  Elton has had the pleasure of working alongside of some of the most award-winning Flair bartenders in the world during his seven year stint at the Rio all suite hotel and casino.  He has worked on and off of the strip in many different types of bars from popular night-clubs to restaurants to local gaming bars and in banquets/showrooms.   He also conducts bartender training courses on a regular basis in an intimate capacity based on availability. Although Elton has no competition titles he has competed in many and has spent thousands upon thousands of hours dedicated to practicing his craft.




I pose two questions to you; 1) who doesn’t love Batman? Okay, now 2) who doesn’t love their Bartender? In more cases than not, the answer to both is NOBODY! Now, what do these two figures have in common? The answer to that is PLENTY! Or at least it should be. Below many similarities are outlined between the dark knight and the night’s center of attention YOU (the Bartender).  You will do well to recall these common attributes and aside from dressing like him, to otherwise emulate Batman’s finer personality traits.  I’ll begin with a short anecdote.

Imagine this fictional scenario on a movie screen or DC™ comic book…


It’s a dark night in Gotham City, the hazy cloud cover hovering above the tall buildings provides the perfect amount of shadowing to conceal our hero as well as an optimal backdrop in which to illuminate the City’s cry for help. The Bat Signal! Upon noticing the signal in the night sky Bruce Wayne’s alter ego Batman springs into action! He jumps from roof top to roof top until he reaches Gotham police headquarters, the source of the Signal. Commissioner Gordon is there waiting with a threatening letter in hand delivered there from the Joker that reads… “With the town’s supply of ethylene oxide, I’ll turn the entire Earth on its side, watching a seed that grows you’ll sit and wait, but by the time you find me it’ll be too late! Your Pal, Joker. Ha Ha Ha Ha, He He He He He!” “What could this mean Batman?” Commissioner Gordon inquired. The dark knight, using his keen detective skills talked it out. “Ethylene oxide is used as a fumigant and to manufacture other Chemicals. Turning the Earth on its side is the same as it rotating on its Axis, and you would watch a seed grow into a Plant!” He continues to put the clues together, “Yes, it’s making sense now, he’s planning to poison the Gotham City water supply from the old Axis Chemical Plant!” Gordon chimes in, “Excellent reasoning Batman! Do you think you’ll have enough time to stop him?” But before Gordon finished his sentence, the Batman had already disappeared into the night.

Like a bat out of hell (pun intended) he drove the Batmobile full speed ahead in the most direct route to the abandoned Axis Chemical Plant in an attempt to thwart the Joker.  When he arrived at the scene, the old chemical plant was emitting plumes of smoke from the stacks that hadn’t been used in at least two decades and the factory lights were on for the first time since its closure back in the 80’s.  Batman entered the building with caution and immediately spotted the Joker close to a vat of toxic chemicals about to pour the poisonous concoction into the city water supply. He had gotten there just in the nick of time because the Joker was merely seconds away from pulling the lever that released the vat with the deadly mixture. Still about twenty yards away Batman reached into his utility belt to pull out a Bat-a-Rang to hurl at the Joker’s hand! “What?” The Batman said aloud “Where the hell? I could have sworn I put it in that pouch, maybe it’s in this pouch?” Batman clumsily and frantically searched his utility belt for the Bat-a-Rang that he just had simply forgotten to equip himself with.  Impulsively he grabbed whatever he could use out of his belt and hurled it in the Joker’s direction! “POOF” a smoke grenade went off about ten yards away from his intended target because A) smoke grenades are not aerodynamic thus could not reach the lengthy distance and B) they are timed to go off simultaneously after throwing them as to be used for concealment rather than as a weapon. However, this was not an effective method to deter the Joker and subsequently he threw the switch that completely doomed the city of Gotham!   The Joker erupted in an evil bout of laughter having finally bested his long time foe! “He he he he he he he! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

Now, the lesson to be learned here is that the above Scenario has NEVER taken place in a Batman comic book or movie. Why is that? Because Batman’s success in saving people, thwarting villains and getting out of tight situations alive depends solely on him BEING PREPARED. Now imagine a similar scenario taking place behind the bar where you work…

A guest walks up and orders four cocktails that require a timely preparation, such as a muddled drink. At the same time another guest comes up and orders 3 beers for himself and his buddies. Now, as a bartender we all love to save steps so you reach into your pocket for your bottle opener (or waist or wherever you generally keep it) only to find that it’s not there!  You had forgotten it, just like Batman had forgotten his Bat-a-Rang. Now, unlike the first example above nobody is going to die because of this absent-mindedness, however you will now find yourself in the uncomfortable position of looking around the bar spending needless steps trying to find something else (another opener, a wine key or a mixing tin) to open these bottles of beer with. Meanwhile, you’ve completely abandoned the drinks you were making in the first place causing an unnecessary increase of guest wait times. This translates directly to your tips as well as bar revenue. A bartender that is ill-prepared for his shift before he begins it is doomed to failure from the start. This includes having the correct amount of garnishes prepped and in the correct spot, having your speed rail set up for the amount of volume you expect, checking beer kegs and bottled beer stock, having all of your bar tools (mixing tins, spoons, strainers, spill guards, napkin holders etc.) in the correct location and according to saving steps. In general being prepared is doing whatever it takes ahead of time to reduce the number of steps you will have to take during your shift. This will increase productivity, reduce wait times and subsequently put more dollars in your pocket at the end of your shift.  However, being prepared for your shift and anticipating your guest’s needs ahead of time (just as Batman prepares for his patrol and anticipates the types of scenarios he may encounter that night) is by no means where the similarities between these two characters end.



FBC_BattenderBruce Wayne as you know is Batman’s secret Identity.  Your secret Identity is (your name here).  When you are on the bar, and you are in your rhythm and flow of your shift you are “your” version of Batman. You are the hero that provides your guest’s with drinks and entertains them. When Bruce Wayne is not being Batman and otherwise keeping up the front that he is a playboy, he is constantly training. He is in the gym lifting weights, at the dojo practicing karate moves, rehearsing the art of escape, researching a cure to a deadly disease or developing a psyche profile of a formidable adversary.  In order to be at the top of his game and keep himself alive, Batman must constantly train and keep up with the changing times. You too must constantly train when you are not behind the bar. While it may not save your life as it would our caped and cowl’d friend, it will directly affect your salary! Everything that Batman does to stay alive, you must do to get that extra tip or that better shift! Know the products behind your bar, study at least twice a week. Find new drink recipes to add to your repertoire until you have at least five recipes for every liquor that you carry. Work on that new Flair routine, and believe me there is NO limit to how many routines or moves you can learn. Learn a new joke, watch the big game that everyone is talking about, practice your pouring technique, re-read that old manual you  got from your liquor distributor or bartending school, and find flowery/descriptive ways to explain the selection of beer’s and wine’s that you carry.  Basically, like Batman you NEVER STOP LEARNING.  When you are at home you are your secret identity that is the time to perfect your craft. Your bar guests don’t really know that you are spending hours in your backyard shed (the Bat-Cave if you will) practicing flair, or executing the perfect pour. But when you are behind the bar kicking ass and taking names, you can sure as hell bet they will know that you are Batman!

How many times have you approached a guest and immediately knew that you were going to get an awesome tip from that person even though you never met them before? It happens from time to time, you just get a good read on a person and you in turn project that positive energy back onto them. You go that extra mile to make them feel special. Even if your initial instinct was wrong, you have inadvertently created a repeat customer who is a good tipper. How many times have you approached an individual and thought to yourself “there is no way I’m getting a good tip from this person” even though you’ve never met them before? Look, we are all human and whether we like to admit it or not we DO have certain biases. I submit to you this however… every single time a person comes to your bar try to remind yourself that you are there for ONE single reason only, to put money into YOUR and the ESTABLISHMENTS  pocket.  Think about this, how many times has Batman saved the Joker, or the Penguin or Riddler from impending doom? Sure, he could just let them fall out of the top story window of that building or let them go down with the sinking ship but Batman lives by a “Code of Honor” and it is that code that reminds him to save even his worst enemies, and it keeps him from becoming one of them.  So too must YOU have a code of honor.  The point being that the more positive energy you project on your guests (and believe me, even the great tippers will notice if you do not treat every person equally) then the more positive energy will in turn be reflected back on you.  Keep in mind that even a “Bad” tipper may refer “Good Tipper” friends, and the more volume that is in the bar, the more you will be taking home too! Live by that code! Smile more, joke with everybody (not just the opposite sex!), build relationships with patrons who were otherwise strangers (getting them to interact/flirt with each other) and generally treat every single guest like your best friend! Remember, Batman keeps his friends close, but his enemies closer.

What is on your “Utility Belt?” I don’t mean physically though, I mean symbolically.  Some of the tools a successful bartender must possess are (but not limited to) >Entertainment I.E. Flair, Jokes, Sports knowledge, Magic, and Satire >Product Knowledge >Speed >Mixology >Sex appeal} these are all tools that can be used to increase your success as a bartender. And not every bartender has every tool, but it’s how you use what’s on your utility belt to your advantage that makes you successful.  Now, let’s say for example that you are a guy and have a group of beautiful women at your bar who want to do shots for their friend’s birthday. You instinctively want to put on a good show for them and begin your Flair routine which will most likely end in a multi-pour, now during this same scenario there is a guest at the end of the bar losing a lot of money on the poker machine and he just wants his beer refilled as soon as it’s empty. These two different guests’ require two different tools, while guest’s “A” want to be entertained and doesn’t mind the extra time it takes to put on a show, guest “B” just wants to be serviced quickly. The tool for guest’s “A” is Flair, and the tool for guest “B” is speed (and there is a way to do both at once but the point here is to apply the correct tool to each situation). Now I know that a lot of you are thinking right now how obvious this is, but I can’t tell you how many times I see this simple idea overlooked at bars time and time again! Individuals that spend too much time with their regulars and ignore potential repeat business, I’ve seen it happen more times than I want to admit.  Bartenders must have a substantial amount of tools on their belt and use them accordingly, knowing when to talk to someone about sports or when to leave them alone to play video poker can be the key to that guest returning to your bar! Batman most certainly would not use a grappling hook when what he really needed was lock pick. Be aware of your guest’s needs and apply the appropriate tool! No matter how much you try to draw guest “B” into your Flair show, sometimes there are people who just don’t want any part of it. That being said, you can still provide the type of service that this guest expects by reading them and applying the proper tool. If you do this, they WILL return and believe me when they hit that royal flush you will be happy that you did!

Batman doesn’t always work alone. He’s got Alfred, Batgirl, Robin and sometimes other heroes that he teams up with. You ARE Batman behind your bar, but your Alfred is your manager/supplier, your Robin is your barback, and your Superman/Batgirl is your fellow bartender…

> Before Mr. Wayne puts on the cowl and heads out on patrol his butler Alfred greets him with his weapons, tools and maybe even a sandwich.  Alfred does everything that Batman doesn’t have time to do from preparing his tuxedo for a charity dinner to fixing the damaged Batmobile from a recent villain encounter.  Batman is the first line of defense for Gotham City, just as you are the first line of defense for your bar.  If your napkins get low or you know the rodeo is in town and you need to stock up on Crown Royal you depend on your manager (Alfred) to get these things done. Have an open communication with your manager at all times; make sure he is apprised of every situation from a guest on the borderline of drinking too much to not having enough change in your drawer.  If you keep your manager in the loop you will not have to bear the entire weight of being Bat-tender on your own! The key is to be proactive, rather than reactive.

>Conversely, your barback is your sidekick.  If trained (and compensated) well he/she will get you out of a jam when you need him/her the most. As Batman it is your responsibility to teach Robin the Code of Honor, and give him all of the tools he needs to become his own hero someday (Nightwing for you fellow comic book geeks).  At the same time while he is there to learn, your Robin is also there to give that extra support when you are three deep in patrons.  Reward him handsomely and train him as you have been trained and you shall have your own dynamic duo that will generate bar revenue and personal cash flow for the both of you!

>Although Batman is a hero in his own rights, he often teams up with other heroes to accomplish his goal.  Here are some tips to maximize your efficiency when working as a team with other Bartenders.

1) Check your ego at the door! Yes, you may be Batman and you’ve earned that title with all the perks that come along with it but don’t forget that you are working right next to Superman! Okay, maybe it isn’t even Superman next to you, maybe it’s just Green Arrow or Booster Gold (I realize I’ve lost some people here that aren’t necessarily comic book fans but try and follow along with this point.) No matter who it is you are working next to, that other bartender has some super powers that you do not have. It’s important to capitalize on each other’s strengths and put personal differences aside when working together behind the bar. Lois Lane once had an affair with Bruce Wayne and Superman wasn’t all that happy about it, but he didn’t let that stop him from helping Batman defeat the Joker. Ego’s aside, plain and simple.

2) Know your teammates weakness. Kryptonite is deadly to Superman, when exposed to it Batman must then step in to secure the Kryptonite in a lead container or otherwise remove it from exposure to our beloved man of steel. If your fellow bartender’s weakness is “Tits” for example, know when to pay closer attention to other guest’s while he is distracted. If his weakness is watching the 49’rs game, rally the other 9r’s fans at the bar around him while you service the Seahawk fans.  Every bartender must pull his/her own weight, just as a Hero must be able to stand alone in his own fight. Occasionally however, you must bail out your fellow hero when he/she is exposed to their weakness.

3) Share information. It is important to have an open line of communication with your co-workers. When Batman is investigating a heist, he may tell Wonder Woman about his findings to get a fresh perspective on the matter, or just to otherwise alert her of impending danger.  If you know a guest is getting a little out of control and you are about to go to your break or end of shift, keep your partner in the loop and tell them about the situation before you bail.  Share scores of the big games that were played that day, share which video poker machines paid out, tell each other when you see a regular patron what they like to drink or eat.  The more you communicate with your partner, the happier in general your guests will be and the more likely they will be to return!

4) Train with your partner. Maybe the two of you behind the bar are as thick as thieves, or maybe you aren’t even friends once you get off of work, but if you can convince your fellow bartender to work in tandem with yourself you will achieve a new level of success.  Practice tandem Flair routines that will knock your guest’s socks off! Showcase drink recipes that you’ve perfected together at home, hell rehearse a barbershop quartet song for Pete’s sake! Whatever it is you can practice together when you are off of work, will become apparent when you show up to work with each other.

FBC_Batman_HHLike most Bartenders, Batman also gets his work done at night.  We are all nocturnal creatures and as such must socialize with other night owls to make our living. Even those of us who work day shift cater to the late-nighters overflow crowd from time to time.  We respect the night, we belong to the night and we do whatever it takes to make that ever so impact full first impression. That impression that our guests will have a lifelong memory of imprinted permanently into their cerebral cortex! If you remember what it takes to be like Batman behind the bar, you will forever be adored by your bar patrons and fans everywhere as the immortal BAT-TENDER!


Article written by: Elton Marvin Jr.





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