Career Development

What Does a Head Bartender Do?

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

Head bartenders are the top dog in the bar industry. They’re responsible for managing all aspects of their establishment’s beverage program, including creating and executing drink recipes, training other bartenders on how to make drinks correctly, ordering supplies, etc.

Head Bartender Job Duties

A head bartender typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Training new employees on company procedures and policies
  • Serving as a liaison between the manager and other staff members
  • Creating new alcoholic beverages or updating existing recipes based on customer requests
  • Overseeing the inventory of liquor in the bar, ordering new supplies when necessary, and organizing storage space for bottles
  • Managing all bar operations including staff scheduling, inventory, ordering supplies, and creating drink specials
  • Ensuring that customers receive prompt attention from waitstaff and bartenders
  • Maintaining cleanliness of bar area and equipment to ensure sanitary conditions for patrons
  • Determining when to stop serving alcohol to patrons who have had too much to drink
  • Preparing drink orders for patrons, including mixing beverages and serving them to customers

Head Bartender Salary & Outlook

Head bartenders’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the size of the bar and the location of the job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $39,500 ($18.99/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

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

The continued popularity of craft breweries and distilleries is expected to lead to more establishments that serve drinks made with these products. In addition, the aging population is expected to increase demand for specialty cocktails, such as those made with high-quality liquors.

Related: Head Bartender Interview Questions and Answers

Head Bartender Job Requirements

A head bartender typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Bartenders need at least a high school diploma or GED to get hired. Some establishments may require a college degree, but this is not a common practice.

Training & Experience: Many head bartenders learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training often includes shadowing other bartenders and performing duties under the supervision of a senior bartender until they are comfortable enough to work independently. Training often includes learning how to make signature drinks, how to clean and maintain the bar and how to interact with customers.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually required to qualify for this role. However, earning certifications can give you a competitive edge over other candidates and demonstrate your leadership abilities.

Head Bartender Skills

Head bartenders need the following skills in order to be successful:

Customer service: Customer service is the ability to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful manner. Bartenders should have excellent customer service skills to ensure that patrons have a positive experience at the bar. Bartenders should be friendly and welcoming to all customers and be willing to help them with any questions they have about the bar’s menu or drink offerings.

Communication: Bartenders often communicate with customers to understand their needs and preferences. They also communicate with other bartenders and other staff members to relay information and ensure that customers receive the best service. Bartenders should also communicate with management to share feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Creativity: Bartenders use creativity to create new drink recipes and garnishes. They also use creativity to come up with new drink specials and promotions to attract customers. Creativity is also important when bartenders are creating drink garnishes and decorations.

Multitasking: Bartenders often have to multitask to ensure they meet the needs of their customers. They may need to make drinks, check IDs, take orders, clean and restock the bar, make change and handle money. Bartenders who are good at multitasking can do all of these things at the same time without sacrificing quality or service.

Knowledge of drinks: Bartenders should have a thorough knowledge of the different types of drinks they serve. This includes knowing the ingredients of each drink, how to mix them and the proper way to serve them. Bartenders should also know the ingredients of common cocktails and be able to make them. This ensures they can make drinks for customers who order them.

Head Bartender Work Environment

Head bartenders work in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. They typically work evenings, weekends, and holidays, when these establishments are busiest. Head bartenders usually work full time, but some may work part time. They typically work behind the bar, but may also work in the dining room or lounge, serving drinks and interacting with customers. Head bartenders must be able to stand for long periods of time and lift and carry heavy bottles and cases of liquor. They must also be able to work in a fast-paced environment and handle customer complaints in a professional manner.

Head Bartender Trends

Here are three trends influencing how head bartenders work. Head 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 Rise of the Craft Cocktail Movement

The craft cocktail movement is growing rapidly, as more and more people are looking for high-quality drinks that are made with fresh ingredients. This trend is having a major impact on the bar industry, as head bartenders need to be able to create innovative cocktails that appeal to customers’ tastes.

Head bartenders who want to stay ahead of the curve should focus on developing their skills in mixology. They should also pay attention to trends in the culinary world, as this is where many of the newest ideas for cocktails will come from.

More Focus on Local Ingredients

As the local food movement continues to grow, so too does the demand for locally sourced ingredients in restaurants. This means that head bartenders will need to focus on sourcing products from local farmers and producers in order to provide their customers with the freshest possible dishes.

In addition to sourcing local ingredients, head bartenders will also need to be familiar with the best ways to prepare them. This includes knowing how to cook, grill, or roast different types of meat and vegetables.

A Return to Classic Cocktails

There has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of classic cocktails, as more and more people are looking for a nostalgic experience when they go out to drink.

This trend is being driven by the younger generation, who are interested in experiencing the past through the drinks that were popular during their childhoods. Head bartenders can capitalize on this trend by creating menus that feature classic cocktails and by educating their staff on the history of these drinks.

How to Become a Head Bartender

A head bartender career can be a great way to start your career in the hospitality industry. As a head bartender, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a variety of drinks and cocktails, learn about different spirits and ingredients, and meet new people. You’ll also be in charge of managing your bar staff, so it’s important to have strong leadership skills.

To become a head bartender, you’ll need to have a lot of experience working as a bartender. This means working at different bars and restaurants, learning about different types of drinks, and meeting new people. It’s also important to have a good understanding of food and wine pairings, so that you can recommend appropriate drinks for each dish on your menu.

Advancement Prospects

Head bartenders usually have several years of experience as bartenders. They may have started as barbacks, working their way up through the ranks. Some head bartenders are promoted from within the bar or restaurant where they work, while others are hired from outside.

Head bartenders are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the bar, including ordering supplies, hiring and training staff, and developing drink menus. They also oversee the bar’s finances, including budgeting, pricing, and tracking inventory. In some establishments, head bartenders are also responsible for promoting the bar and developing marketing campaigns.

Head Bartender Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide our guests with an unforgettable experience, and a big part of that is thanks to our bartenders. We’re looking for a head bartender who can take charge of our bar, create new and innovative cocktails, and provide outstanding customer service. The ideal candidate will have several years of bartending experience, as well as experience managing a team of bartenders. He or she will be creative, outgoing, and passionate about mixology.

As head bartender, you will be responsible for training new bartenders, creating drink menus, ordering supplies, and maintaining inventory. You will also be responsible for ensuring that our guests have a positive experience by providing them with prompt and courteous service.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Maintain a clean, organized, and stocked bar area at all times
  • Prepare cocktails and other drinks to order, using standard bartending techniques
  • Follow recipes and guidelines to make drinks consistently and accurately
  • Check identification of guests ordering alcoholic beverages and ensure that they are of legal drinking age
  • Interact with guests in a friendly and professional manner, taking drink orders and making recommendations
  • Upsell guests on higher-priced items and specialty drinks when appropriate
  • Process payments quickly and efficiently
  • Handle cash and credit card transactions according to company policy
  • Keep track of inventory and place orders for supplies as needed
  • Clean glasses, utensils, and work areas regularly
  • Assist in training new bartenders and support staff as needed
  • Perform opening and closing duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Proven bartending experience
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure in a fast-paced environment
  • Creativity and ability to come up with new drink recipes
  • Extensive knowledge of beer, wine, and spirits

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Culinary training or experience
  • Management experience
  • Flexibility to work nights, weekends, and holidays
  • Proficiency in POS systems
  • Certification from a bartending school


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