Career Development

What Does a Bartender Do?

Find out what a bartender does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a bartender.

Bartenders are responsible for preparing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to customers in bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments. They commonly work behind the bar counter where they have access to a wide variety of liquors, wines, beers, and other drinks.

Bartenders must be able to multitask effectively while paying close attention to detail. They need to keep track of which drinks have been ordered by patrons, how many servings of each drink have been prepared, and any special instructions related to these orders (such as “no ice” or “extra lime wedges”).

Bartender Job Duties

Bartenders typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Mixing ingredients to create new drinks, blending different spirits with mixers, and adding garnishes such as fruit or mint leaves
  • Cleaning tables and maintaining a tidy bar area by clearing away used glasses, bottles, napkins, and other debris
  • Maintaining inventory of liquor and other bar supplies, ordering new items as needed
  • Preparing cocktails, beers, or other beverages for customers by mixing ingredients such as juices, liquors, carbonated water, and fruit purees
  • Take drink orders from customers and serve them at the bar using a POS system to track inventory or using an order slip for written orders
  • Upselling to customers by suggesting additional products that may be used in conjunction with their order
  • Taking payment from customers for their orders using cash register systems or credit cards at an automated terminal
  • Mixing non-alcoholic drinks such as sodas, juices, coffee, tea, and shakes
  • Cleaning glassware and other bar equipment, including bottles, strainers, corkscrews, and shakers

Bartender Salary & Outlook

Bartenders’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the type of establishment they work in and the city or state in which they live.

  • Median Annual Salary: $27,500 ($13.22/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of bartenders is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

The growing popularity of craft breweries and microbreweries is expected to lead to more establishments that serve high-quality beer. In addition, the continued growth of restaurants and bars will create jobs for bartenders.

Bartender Job Requirements

A bartender typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Bartenders need at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. Many bartenders choose to pursue a post-secondary education to increase their earning potential and qualify for promotions. Some bartenders choose to earn an associate’s degree in hospitality or a related field.

Training & Experience: Most bartenders learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training may last a few weeks to a month, and it may include shadowing current bartenders, learning the basics of the role and practicing serving customers. Training often includes learning the menu, how to make the most popular drinks, how to use the POS system and how to interact with customers.

Certifications & Licenses: Bartenders typically need proof of legal age to work in the hospitality industry, which often requires a valid government-issued ID. Some states require bartenders to have a permit to mix certain drinks.

Bartender Skills

Bartenders need the following skills in order to be successful:

Memory: Bartenders need to have excellent memory skills to remember drink orders and the names of customers. Bartenders should also be able to remember the ingredients of each drink on the menu. This can help them if a customer has an allergy or if they need to make a substitution.

Communication: Bartenders must be able to communicate with their customers in a friendly and professional manner. Bartenders should be able to listen to their customers’ needs and answer any questions they may have. Bartenders should also be able to communicate with their fellow bartenders and wait staff to ensure that the customer’s needs are met.

Multitasking: Bartenders often have several tasks they need to complete at the same time. For example, they may need to prepare drink orders, keep track of the cash drawer, check IDs for customers who are of legal drinking age and clean the bar area. Bartenders who are good at multitasking can complete all of their tasks efficiently and effectively.

Friendliness: Bartenders should be friendly to all of their customers. They should be able to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Bartenders should also be friendly to other staff members and be willing to help out wherever they are needed.

Knowledge: Bartenders should have a basic understanding of the ingredients and processes of common cocktails. This can help them make recommendations to patrons and suggest cocktails based on the patron’s preferences. Bartenders should also have a basic understanding of the different types of beer, wine and other types of alcohol to be able to make recommendations to patrons.

Bartender Work Environment

Bartenders work in a variety of settings, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hotels. They typically work evening and night shifts, although some bartenders work during the day. Many bartenders work part time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Bartenders must be able to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy bottles and kegs. They also must be able to work in a fast-paced environment and handle customer complaints in a professional manner.

Bartender Trends

Here are three trends influencing how bartenders work. Bartenders will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Craft Cocktails

The craft cocktail movement is growing rapidly, and this is having a major impact on the bartender profession.

As more and more people are interested in trying new cocktails, bartenders will need to be able to create unique and innovative drinks that stand out from the crowd. This requires a deep understanding of different spirits and how they can be combined to create new flavors.

Bartenders who are able to create unique and interesting cocktails will be in high demand, as customers are looking for something new and exciting.

More Focus on Quality Ingredients

As the culinary world has grown in popularity, so too has the focus on quality ingredients. This trend is being seen in all areas of the restaurant industry, including bars.

Bartenders who want to stay ahead of the curve should focus on using high-quality ingredients in their cocktails. This includes fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables, as well as top-shelf liquors and wines. In addition, bartenders should focus on creating original recipes that showcase the quality of their ingredients.

A Growing Interest in Local Products

Local products are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, and this is having a significant impact on the bar industry.

Bartenders can capitalize on this trend by offering local products in their cocktails. This not only gives customers a taste of what’s available in their area, but it also helps support local businesses. In addition, bartenders can promote local products in other ways, such as through menu items or special events.

How to Become a Bartender

A bartender career can be a great way to start your working life. It’s a fun and social job, with lots of opportunities to learn new things and meet new people. You’ll also get to try out lots of different drinks and cocktails, which is always fun.

The best way to become a bartender is to start off as a barista or waiter/waitress. This will give you experience in customer service and working behind a bar. You can then move on to becoming a bartender when you’re ready.

Related: How to Write a Bartender Resume

Advancement Prospects

Most bartenders start out working in small bars or restaurants and eventually move up to larger establishments. Some bartenders eventually open their own bars. Many bartenders advance by becoming managers of bars or restaurants.

Bartenders with good people skills may be promoted to positions such as maitre d’hotel, headwaiter, or manager of food and beverage operations. Those with good business skills may open their own bars or restaurants. Some bartenders become sales representatives for liquor companies or distributors.

Bartender Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide our guests with a one-of-a-kind dining experience, and our bartenders play a vital role in ensuring that they have a memorable time. We’re searching for an outgoing and personable bartender to join our team. The ideal candidate will have prior bartending experience, as well as a strong knowledge of different types of alcohol and mixed drinks. He or she will be responsible for preparing and serving drinks to our guests, as well as providing excellent customer service. The most successful bartender will be able to work well under pressure and create a fun and inviting atmosphere for our guests.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understands and can explain all drink menus
  • Takes food orders from customers and serves food and drinks accordingly
  • Checks identification of guests to verify they are of legal drinking age
  • Follows all cash handling procedures and liquor regulations
  • Keeps the bar area clean and organized at all times
  • Restocks bar with supplies as needed
  • Makes sure all guests are satisfied with their experience
  • Answers any questions guests may have about the menu or drinks
  • Upsells guests on food and drink items when appropriate
  • Completes opening and closing duties as assigned
  • Processes payments and handles tips according to company policy
  • Performs other related duties as required

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Proven bartending experience
  • Excellent knowledge of in-demand cocktails, mixed drinks, and beer varieties
  • Ability to keep a clean and organized workstation
  • Strong communication skills
  • Great customer service skills
  • Ability to multitask and work well under pressure

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Cocktail creation and mixology experience
  • Bartending certification
  • First Aid/CPR certification
  • ServSafe Food Handler’s certification
  • TIPS certification

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