Jason Loyd Murphy graduated from Pepperdine University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in TV production and theatre. With an eye on earning a living and scheduling flexibility, he earned California certification as a bartender after graduating from the National Bartenders School. “I knew that I wasn't going to get a job in acting right away, so I decided to go through a quick bartending program which would give me a marketable skill,” he says.
Though he still aspires to become a Los Angeles actor, in two short years, Mr. Loyd Murphy has established a successful bartender career. He has worked for a wide variety of catering services and restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck, Truly Yours Catering and The Kitchen for Exploring Foods, as well as at high profile events such as the Academy Awards. He also became TIPS certified (Training for Intervention Procedures) following a training course to give bartenders the appropriate skills to prevent patrons from becoming overly intoxicated.
In addition to the ability to support himself through bartending wages, Mr. Loyd Murphy enjoys being a key factor in the enjoyment people have at the parties and events that he works. “When people drink, they are able to enjoy themselves more at events such as weddings. The bar is the key to a successful wedding,” Loyd Murphy says.
Mr. Loyd Murphy & His Career
Tell us about your career as a bartender.
I currently bartend for several catering companies in the Los Angeles area. I primarily work for Truly Yours Catering, but I've worked for Wolfgang Puck, Mary You May, The Party Staff, and The Kitchen for Exploring Foods. I enjoy Truly Yours the most because they're the only catering company that I'm aware of that allows for substantial tips to be collected by bartenders. I'm 24, and I've been out of school for two years now. This isn't the career I want, ultimately, but it's a means to an end and is something that I can do throughout my life if necessary so that I can pursue my other passions. It provides me with a decent amount of income, most of it in daily cash, and it affords me the hours that I need as an actor in LA to do what I need to do in that field.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I mostly enjoy the free time it allows me. The flexibility of my schedule us really important to me and this job allows me to choose some of my own hours and to work part-time for good money.
What do you do dislike?
Standing for eight hours at a time is physically uncomfortable; I have a lot of back problems because of this job. That's another reason that I don't think I'd want to do this for my whole life, even though it's a really great job for right now.
What exactly do you do on a daily basis?
When I work, I set up the bar from scratch at various locations. I prep wine and champagne for the servers in tubs. I ice down drinks, cut fruit, organize my glassware, set up the alcohol, put linens on the table and bar top, then break down everything once the event is over.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
The physical stuff is the most difficult. Unloading the trucks at the locations and carrying glassware on carts down steep slopes are not easy tasks.
What are some common myths about your profession and how do they differ from the actual work?
The most common myth is that you have to know a lot of drinks to be a really good bartender. You really only need to memorize about twenty drinks; everyone orders something from the same list of those twenty. Knowing more can help in the job but there are drink books behind the bar if someone orders something obscure.
What contributions do you feel your job offers to society as a whole?
When people drink, they are able to enjoy themselves more at events such as weddings. The bar is the key to a successful wedding. People go to a number of events at which they feel socially awkward and the bar is the place where they can begin to relax and meet other people at these events.
What has been one of your favorite bartending experiences?
The Academy Awards was interesting just because of the amount of security and celebrities there. It was a neat experience to get to participate in.
What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
Advancing to a new position at a bar to increase income would be the primary goal for me as far as bartending goes.
Job Information & Advice
What are the hottest drink specialties within the bartending field?
The Appletini or any other kind of colored drink is really popular right now. Many people don't seem to care about the taste, as long as it's relatively sweet and has a bright color. They want to look pretty while they're drinking it.
Do you feel that is important for someone to be passionate about this field in order to be successful on both a personal and professional level?
I feel it's important to be passionate about any career in order to be successful. This applies as much to bartending as to any job.
What kinds of jobs are available for graduating students in this field? Specialty areas?
Catering is the job which is most available to students of bartending schools. To get into the actual bartending generally requires working your way up through catering and events.
What are the best ways to get a foot in the door?
You should stress your amount of experience as much as possible. Build it up and let potential employers think that you really know what you're doing even if you don't feel confident. Confidence is really important in bartending so you need to exude that in your interviews.
Education Information & Advice
Tell us about your undergrad education and degree.
I graduated from Pepperdine University in 2005 with a B.A. in TV production and theatre. I knew that I wasn't going to get a job in acting right away, so I decided to go through a quick bartending program which would give me a marketable skill. I graduated from the National Bartenders School, also in 2005, with a California certification as a bartender. I am also TIPS certified, which gives me something else to put on my resume to entice employers to hire me.
What led you to decide to go to bartending school?
I needed a career that primarily worked night hours and had a large cash income so that I could pursue other things during the day. Plus, I'm a performer and bartending lets me show that off a little bit. So the school made sense to me.
How has your education benefited your career?
My bartending education benefited me as far as my level of comfort behind of bar. I am confident in my abilities to quickly and efficiently make drinks and maintain a clean and organized bar. It gave me skills and confidence.
What can students applying to schools of this kind do to increase their chances of being accepted?
I don't think any bartending school would ever deny someone willing to pay to take a course.
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school?
If you want a great bartending school, choose one that emphasizes speed and cleanliness. Accuracy is the least important aspect of bartending. Sure, you need to know how to make drinks but you're going to learn that at all bartending schools as well as on the job. You need to be able to make them fast, get your customer's needs met and keep the bar area clear.
Cleanliness and organization are the most important considerations for a bartender. They allow for speed, which allows for greater service to more patrons, which means more tips. Mixology is important, but ultimately anyone can learn the ingredients to the most common drink in a matter of days. It's one's ability to efficiently pour drinks that determines one's success as a bartender.
Does graduating from a certain school make a difference in landing a good job in this field?
The level of one's ability to provide bar service has no correlation to one's education. If you can make a drink, you can make a drink. Supplementing your education with extra certifications always helps boost your resume.
Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in the field?
Bartending is a great career for people who want high levels of cash immediately and need to have their days free. You can do it part-time or full-time and you can do it just for a little while or for the rest of your life.
Editor's Note: Jason Loyd Murphy is happy to answer follow-up questions from students interested in a career as a bartender. To follow up directly, email him here.