Bartending in a college town is easy in terms of what drinks you have to know. Not many people are ordering anything sophisticated. 50% of it will be beer, 30% of it will be shots, and 20% of it will be mixed drinks. Beer is easy, just make sure you manage your kegs and bleed off the head BEFORE it gets busy. Mixed drinks in a college town will most likely be things like "jack and coke", "vodka and tonic", "red bull and vodka", "xyz spirit and abc mixer".
Those who want to get fucked up will order Long Island iced tea (or one of it's five cousins), Blue Hawaiian, Irish car bombs (if you have Guinness on tap) and the occasional Zombie. Which brings us to shots. You should know how to make yummy shots. Fast. Lemon Drop, Mudslide, Red Headed Slut, Purple Hooter, Kamikaze (more on this later), B-52, Blowjob, Slippery Nipple, Buttery Nipple, Sex on the Beach, etc... Know how to make those.
Now, that brings us to two things you have to have to be a good bartender: Speed and customer management (being able to serve them when they don't know what the fuck they want, AND being able to say no politely). At least several times a night, you are going to get a girl or group of girls come up and say, "oh my god, I like, don't know what I want... What should I get? I want something GOOOD! can you make me something good?" At this point, instead of asking them questions, just take charge. A Sex on the Beach variation OR a Kamikaze variation ALWAYS works.
Let's talk speed. The more drinks you can make in a minute, the more more you can serve, the more tips you make, the BETTER tips you make (for being fast) and the more time you have between orders to hit on chicks (or build rapport with your customer).
Set up your rail and work area to work efficiently.
In front of (or next to) your ice bin (with TWO scoops in case you drop one), you should have a well with enough room for the following (in this order from left to right) Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Whiskey, Tripple Sec, Lime Juice. In addition to that I usually have a bottle of citron, scotch and some peach schnapps. NOW, this is your RAIL liquor - it is not your top shelf shit. If your customer orders top shelf, or calls a brand, use that. Otherwise, assume the rail.
Your soda gun should have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, sour mix, tonic and soda. You should have Cranberry, Orange juice, Pineapple juice and cream within arms reach. In your back right pocket you should carry your bar key, in your back left pocket you should have your waiter's corkscrew (the little knife on the top of it will be invaluable for various shit). You should have a sharp paring knife and cutting board stashed near by along with a cocktail strainer, a wooden muddler and several lighters. Get a case of the small ones for cheap and carry at least three with you. Also, start the night with at least ten pens.
Have at least two large bar tins (you will be mixing drinks with a bar tin and pint glass) and learn how to hold the tin and the glass with one hand with a small gap to "strain" the drink. Do NOT let ice chunks get into a shot - your customer will choke. A small bar tin, a jig and a strainer are all good things to have on had as well. A small flashlight with a momentary button is handy as well (for cutting through the crowd if you have to, just blink the light in front of you and people will get out of your way easier).
To measure or to count? That is the question. It all depends on how your manager sets up the bar. Each drink should contain an ounce and a half of alcohol (generally an ounce of strong spirit and a half ounce of sweet liqueur). That is what the customer is paying for. With speed pourers, each count is quarter ounce. For a jack and coke, that is a six count jack. For a Cosmo, that's 4 count of vodka, a 2 count of tripple sec and lime juice and top off with cran. If you are measureing, use the appropriate jig. Some bars have "automatic cut off pourers". Those things suck. They always don't put enough alcohol in the drink and as a result, your drinks are weak (which means your tips are weak) Don't work in a place that has those.
You should cut your garnishes before your shift. Lime, Lemon, Orange, cherries, Lemon peel, Orange peel, Olives (although in a college bar you probably wont use very many olives, be sure to empty them out and get new ones at least once a week). Fresh mint leaves for making Mojitos in the beer fridge.
Let's talk about the Kamikaze for a minute. It's a shit simple drink made with vodka, tripple sec and sour (or lime). That variation is a pretty common theme. For example, a margarita is Tequila, tripple sec and lime. A cosmo is basically a Kamikaze with a splash of cran. If you are experimenting, or in a hurry and need to make something tasty in a pinch, XYZ CLEAR spirit (vodka, rum, gin, tequila), triple sec, lime and ABC juice (OJ, Cran, OJ AND cran, pineapple) will come out tasting pretty fucking good most of the time. It's simple combo that usually works.
-Take multiple orders at the same time. Set up your glasware and ice and make your drinks at once. Let's say you get a Vodka tonic, two Kamikaze shots, a Long Island Ice tea and a Cosmo. Set up a short glass a tall glass with ice a short glass with ice and a tin with ice all lined up on your pour mat. All of those drinks take vodka, two of them take tripple sec and lime. Start with Vodka in your left hand and tripple sec and lime in your right hand (learn to grab and pour tripple sec and lime at the same time - they are right next to each other on your rail and they will be the same count most of the time) and start from the outside and work your way in.
Four counts of vodka in the first glass (left hand), four counts of tripple sec and lime in your tin (right hand - you are making two shots in the same tin), bring both hands together, two counts vodka in the tall glass for the LIT, two counts tripple sec and lime in the short glass for the cosmo, put the two bottles in your right hand back on your rail, as you continue to go across the line up with the vodka. Grab the rest of the bottles to finish off the spirits in the long island, put them down, grap the cran and splash it in the cosmo, grab your gun and blast some sour and coke in the LIT, some tonic in the first glass and BAM you are done. Slap a pint glass on top of your tin, shake the shit out of it and pour two shots.
You just made five drinks in less that thirty seconds. The longest part (and most important part) is collecting loot and giving change. Best to start a tab and always collect a DL and credit card. Develop a system to track it well. Hopefully your POS (point of sale) system is decent and easy to navigate. If it isn't that will be the biggest thing that slows you down.
-the bar is YOUR house, and they are guests, if they get out of line, kick them out
-YOU are in charge, don't let a customer bully you
-If someone is an asshole and you are busy, ignore him for at least ten minutes before you serve him - he will stiff you anyway
-don't steal from your boss (don't give away free drinks). If you want to buy a customer a shot, BUY them a shot.
-ask your boss for some "breakage" so that you CAN give away a few drinks a night. I used to be able to give away ten free drinks on a busy night.
-reward high tippers with prompt service
-the concept of "the customer is always right" is tricky. If they don't like a drink, offer to remake it. ONCE. '
-don't drink behind the bar unless authorized to do so.
-don't eat behind the bar - it's gross
-wash your hands visibly and often - as in soap up and scrub as you walk up and down so everyone sees you washing your hands - it makes a good impression.
-on a busy night, call for ice early or you will run out
-keep your tip jar out of reach of customers
-if you are going to fuck your customers, don't fuck the same one too many times - she will tend to sit at the bar taking up space and giving other girls you are flirting with dirty looks. It's a downer.
-tip out your bar backs well - they will save your ass when you are in the weeds and out of everything.