Starting work at 6am isn’t the norm for an average bartender, however tending this bar requires you to be remarkably better than average. In fact ‘average’ is not a word we tend to hear at The Wolseley.
As you prepare the bar for the day you have the best seat in the house to view, through floor to ceiling windows, the sun slowly rising over Piccadilly and the steady flow of Londoners filling the streets.
By 6:50am without fail, eager patrons begin to arrive, hungry to start their day with our famous eggs Benedict, or a perfectly crafted pastry to go with their fresh Italian coffee.
From 7am breakfast service progressively builds until the restaurant is at full capacity by around 8am.
From this point onwards there is an unstoppable flow of foot traffic through those huge wrought iron doors. Breakfast transforms into lunch and juices and Champagne breakfasts turn into wines as customers meet for business meetings, relax on their break from work or impress a guest for a special occasion.
The Afternoon Tea service, which has become increasingly renowned and popular, is the sweet bridge between Lunch and Dinner and finally, to finish what has already been an eventful and busy day is, of course, the Dinner service. This is the fastest paced and most pressurized service for the bar, as cocktails, wine and Champagne become the more desirable beverages to accompany a meal or round off an evening. The pace of The Wolseley is rapid and it is not just the bar staff that feel the daily pressure and demand from the sheer number of covers we do. However it is because of this incredible demand that we are the exceptional, proficient team that gives The Wolseley its name.
Throughout the day you will find yourself taking on many different roles, because behind The Wolseley bar, there are no run of the mill bartenders. In the mornings you will juggle between being an expert barista, waiter with a full knowledge of the menu and bartender of the finest Bloody Marys. From lunch until evenings you will act as a sommelier, able to pair the perfect wine to any meal with a full knowledge of every aspect of a wine’s production, grape, region, vintage and palate. Not to mention the vital role of cocktail bartender.
The cocktail menu at The Wolseley is that of a classic cocktail bar, so you won’t often have to make some new-age creation with a lewd name and ungodly mix, but you will have to be an expert at the classics and their variations, know the principals of the perfect cocktail and get it right every time.
The bar itself has three points of service all of which are equally important:
The pass, which is the porthole between bar and main room, is where you prepare and make drinks for the entire restaurant. This can be difficult at times when order after order is printing like tickertape, so you must be dexterous, swift and have a good ability to prioritize. The relief and reward you feel from getting through a lunch or post-theatre rush is beyond words.
The counter involves managing customers who are either waiting for their table or simply just in for a quick coffee. Your role at the counter is to also engage with customers and inform them about our wine list or the à la carte menu or even the extraordinary history of the building itself.
Finally there are the four tables within the bar area. If you are ‘doing tables’, then it’s your responsibility to provide the same service and knowledge that the senior waiters provide in the main room and salon.
You must interact with the customers, exceed their expectations, make their visit special and predict and give them what they want before they even know they want it.
As you can see, your responsibility at The Wolseley will involve far more than that of an ‘average bartender’. This diversity adds a dimension to the job, which will keep you focused, interested and will offer constant challenges. Ultimately The Wolseley bar will be unlike any you have ever tendered before and one that will transform you into an exceptional waiter, barista, sommelier, entertainer and of course bartender.
By Leigh Hodge