Peter Wieland
The Good Life
Massapequa Park, NY

I have been bartending on and off for the past 16 years.

Why did you become a bartender?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I got into bartending to meet girls. That’s it.

Where did you get your first bartending job?

My first bartending job was at a very tiny seafood restaurant called Blackbeards. The owner put an ad in the paper that he needed a bartender and was willing to train. I answered the ad and after a short interview he gave me the job.

Did you make a lot of money?

Um…no. The restaurant was small and not that busy. Most nights I walked out of there with 40 to 60 bucks. On my Friday night shift I averaged around a hundred dollars. While this wasn’t crazy money in the world of bartending, I was learning how to bartend AND making money at the same time?

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make when trying to get a bartending job?

1) Paying for bartending schools
2) Paying for bartending schools
3) Paying for bartending schools

What’s your beef with bartending schools?

I honestly feel that bartending schools are one of the biggest rip-off/scams going. Most of the schools I have seen in the New York area charge a ridiculous amount of money. These schools will often mislead you into thinking they will get you a job after you’re done, which is a flat out lie. Many owners will tell you that they will NOT hire someone specifically because THEY WENT to a bartending school. Even if you never sign up for my program, please do not go to a bartending school.

What about becoming a barback?

This is a tough one. I have seen barbacks get promoted to bartender and I have seen barbacks languish for years and get passed over for promotion. Most of the time as a barback, you really aren’t learning how to bartend. I think your time is more well spent concentrating your efforts on getting your first bartending job, rather than becoming a barback.

How did you learn all those drink recipes and how to flip bottles?

Unfortunately most of the stuff you see on the internet regarding bartending has to do with flipping bottles (flair) and complex drink recipes. This represents a very small percentage of what most bartenders are actually doing behind the bar. I don’t know any fancy bottle tricks and I don’t know a 100 drink recipes. The most important thing for someone to have, who wants to become a bartender (with no experience) is a personality!!

Interested in being the next Featured Bartender? Email us at bartender@petethebartender.com.