The bartender job is probably one of the most understated occupations, both in point of the effort required and in the necessary skills/education. The common misconception is that the bartender is a person who gains a high sum of money out of simply pouring a couple of drinks to their clients. In fact, the bartender job involves a lot of work, creativity, discipline and responsibility. If you are interested in starting a career as a bartender (or you are looking for a serious person to take on this type of responsibilities in your establishment), here is what a bartender job description usually looks like.
Short bartender job description
The bartender is the professional who stands behind the bar and serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to clients. They are also in charge of preparing some of the drinks that they serve, such as cocktails and, when no barista is around, coffee-based beverages. Organisational business, such as keeping the place in good order and having all the necessary supplies for the bar’s proper functioning, is also on the to-do list of a professional bartender. Apart from the hectic schedule, the bartender job description also lists a great variety of personal features and professional skills necessary to perform this job properly. We’ll have a close look at each of these requirements below.
Tasks and responsibilities
As mentioned above, the bartender has a varied array of tasks and responsibilities which range from client entertaining to purchasing bar supplies. We grouped these tasks into two sections: client oriented tasks and organising tasks.
• Greet clients and hand in the menus;
• Inform clients on house’s specials and daily/weekly offers as well as on any promotion going on at the moment;
• Give clients information on different drinks and help them choose the ones which best suit their preferences;
• Prepare alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for clients in accordance with the menu and the clients’ specifications;
• Pour wine/beer/bottled drinks in glasses and serve drinks to clients upon request;
• Help clients choose different snacks that best complement their drinks;
• Check clients’ ID to make sure they are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages;
• Entertain clients during their stay at the bar;
• Clean/replace ashtrays regularly when needed;
• When a client has had too much alcohol, refuse politely to serve him/her more alcohol;
• Ask troublesome people to leave the bar when they are on the verge of scandal;
• Collect money from clients for the drinks and snacks served and provide change when necessary;
• Upon request, provide guests with information on local dining offers and ways of entertainment.
• Planning drinks and snack menu;
• Suppling the bar with the necessary beverages and snacks;
• Check the bar equipment regularly and have it serviced whenever necessary;
• Comply with the rules and regulations related to food, alcohol and tobacco selling and consumption;
• Wash glasses, utensils and equipment used for drink preparation;
• Maintain the bar area clean and organized;
• Display drinks in a pleasant manner and place offers in a visible place, so that clients see them instantly;
• Clean the tables and arrange stools for a neat and organized bar look;
• Order supplies and deal with suppliers when orders arrive;
• Keep cash register in good order;
• Supervise the work of bar staff or other bartenders;
• Dust, vacuum, wash windows and perform other similar cleaning duties before the bar opens or after it closes.
Regularly, no form of education is required in the bartender job description. However, employers prefer candidates who have at least a high-school diploma and a few years of experience in bartending.
Bartending schools are available at many local universities. For example, Columbia University and Yale University have established bartending schools in the 70s. These schools offer insight into the bartending profession by teaching students how to mix different alcohols, how to maintain hygiene standards in the bar and how to keep clients entertained. Courses of management as well as courses on alcohol regulations are held, so that the future bartenders can fully comply with the existent laws. The programs last between 2 to 4 years and offer students a comprehensive approach of the job, including hands-on courses for gaining experience.
Seasoned bartenders looking to get certified, bartending courses are also available. These courses last only a few weeks and cover the basics of bartending. At the end of the course, the students obtain a certification and they may even be guided towards different locations in need of a bartender. Online certification is also available, but this is recommended only for working bartenders who cannot attend regular courses. These online courses require 40 hours of online attendance and offer a certification with a validity of up to 3 years.
Experience is paramount when applying for a bartender position. Employers look for candidates who can prepare the classic cocktails and at the same time come up with original recipes for signature cocktails. Also, knowing how to deal with clients is essential.
In order to gain experience, candidates can work as bartender assistants (also known as “barbacks”). They help with the daily chores inside the bar, but cannot prepare drinks, so keeping an eye open on what the bartender does is essential for learning the tricks. Another way of getting experience is to start in a small bar, such as the hotel lobby bars.
The average salary for a bartender in United States is $22,000 per year. However, as with any other occupation, the pay-check is different from state to state as well as from bar type to bar type. Generally, bartender’s salary is closely linked to how successful the bar is. When working in a highly popular, in a crowded club or in a high-end establishment, the bartender can easily check $30,000 per year or even higher. Yet, when the business is going down or the bar is struggling to make ends meet, the bartender’s salary is shrinking below the $20,000 per year limit.
Another factor which influences the salary is the bar’s location. A bartender in New York earns much more than one of their peers in Alaska, for sure. Also, bars located inside high-end resorts tend to pay their bartenders much more than regular bars can offer.
While experience is a main requirement in any bartender job description, it does almost nothing to the salary. Experience and salary are related only in the first 5 years, but once this milestone is reached, experience is no longer a factor in establishing the annual salary. Thus, a rookie bartender earns $22,000 – $23,000 per year, while a bartender with at least 5 year experience brings home a little over $27,000 each year.
Bartenders supplement their income with tips from clients. Usually the amount of the tips varies considerably, so it is extremely hard to estimate how much a bartender can make out of tips. Other benefits include health and dental insurance, longevity pay and cost-of-living allowance.
The working schedule of a bartender involves working in shifts, at nights and during week-ends. The shifts can last from four to eight hours, depending on the employer. Apart from the time spent serving clients, the bartenders also need to come earlier to open and prepare the bar for clients and leave after the cleaned and closed the bar.
Bartenders are employed in most establishments which serve food and drinks, including bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, resorts, etc. They can also be hired to serve drinks at different corporate and private events. According to the BLS, the need for professional bartenders will increase considerably. A 12% growth is estimated between 2012 and 2022, so the prospective for those looking for a career as a bartender is bright.
In terms of promotion, however, the opportunities are restricted. Bartenders can be promoted to head bartenders (where more than two bartenders work in the same bar) or restaurant manager (when working in a restaurant’s bar). The only serious advancement for bartenders is to open their own establishment.
Professional skills and abilities
A professional bartender needs to possess a great variety of skills and abilities in order to perform their daily duties. From skills which relate to client interaction to those related to drink preparation and bar management, the bartender’s skills and abilities list is quite complex. Here is a selection of the most important skills listed in any bartender job description:with clients, so perfect communication skills are essential for such a job. They need to greet clients and maintain a conversation when the situation requires is it. Also, they need to report regularly to patrons and deal on a daily/weekly basis with suppliers, situations when their communication abilities are put to test as well.
• Good memory – when the bar is crowded, the bartenders rarely have the chance of putting down all clients’ requests, so their memory needs to stock up all the information about orders and preferences. They also need to remember the recipes and names of all drinks in the menu, so that they can promptly recreate the orders.
• Perfect knowledge of drinks and beverage ingredients – knowing how different alcohols react when combined with other ingredients is essential to create tasty and good looking cocktails that do not give too much headaches the morning after.
• Good knowledge of the bar’s tools and equipment – in order to use them properly and maintain the bar a safe environment, it is essential that the bartender has a solid knowledge of all the tools and the equipment available there.
• Attention to detail – clients request the best and are often extremely careful to all details, so a bartender needs to make sure that their drinks are perfect from all points of view: taste, looks and
• Listening skills – from hearing the drink requirements and personal preferences to acting as client’s confidant, the bartender needs to be all ears to its clients. The task becomes increasingly difficult when the number of clients overruns the number of one’s ears, so good listening skills and distributive attention are a must in this job.
• Good performance in stress conditions – the more popular the bar is, the more people will attend it at high peak hours. And a bar packed with people drinking alcohol is not the most quiet or stress-free place, especially for the bartender. Being able to tackle all their duties with calm and in due time, while also keeping an eye on troublesome clients is imperative.
• Perfect knowledge of the laws and regulations– the laws and regulations regarding alcohol selling and consumption are extremely strict and multiple businesses have been closed because of non-compliance. The bartender needs to know them perfectly and apply them on every occasion.
• Manual dexterity – most of the work is done with the hands, so it is essential that the bartender can handle properly all the equipment, tools and ingredients. Furthermore, the bartenders may be asked to use their dexterity to create “shows” that entertain clients.
• Management abilities – regularly, the bartender is in charge with ordering the necessary drinks and beverage ingredients. Therefore they need to keep track of the most popular drinks in the bar, estimate the necessary amounts of ingredients, assess the lack of different drinks and stock in for the nights to come so that the bar can function properly.
• Flexibility – the bartender must be used to work alone as well as in a team, as there may be nights when they are alone in a bar, but they may also be required to work in a team of bartenders and bartender assistants. They may also work alongside chefs or restaurant staffs to prepare drinks for different dishes/meals.
• Computer skills – bartenders use the computer to keep track of stocks, as well as for informative purposes. Keeping the computer files updated is essential for the business to run smooth.
Not everyone is fit to become a bartender. Apart from the professional skills, there are a number of personal features that a successful bartender must have.
• Ability to identify and solve problems
• Sense of humour
• Passion for their job
A bartender’s day revolves mainly around serving drinks and interacting with people. However, the job requires a variety of skills, personal features and professional abilities. Furthermore, it has a hectic schedule and involves doing some math as well. So, formal or at-work training are required when applying for the job. If you feel you have all the things listed in the bartender job description listed above and some extra passion, start your bartender career as soon as possible. It is beautiful and rewarding!