Bartenders fulfil orders for mixed drinks and serve bottled and on-tap beverages. They deliver orders to customers directly at the bar or with the assistance of wait staff. Bartenders check the identification of patrons to be sure they are of legal drinking age and monitor their intoxication level. Bar managers may also serve food, clean glasses and work areas, supervise staff, and maintain inventory.
- Greet customers, explain daily specials, provide light conversation
- Mix ingredients, like liquor, soda and bitters, according to specific cocktail recipes
- Wash and slice fruit for garnishing drinks
- Pour and serve bottled and on-tap beverages directly to customers or through wait staff
- Collect payment for delivered drinks
- Clean and arrange glassware
- Clean bar and work areas
- Order and maintain beverage and bar supplies inventory
- Balance cash receipts
- Plan bar menus
- Create new mixed drink recipes
- Prepare and serve snacks
- Deliver food to patrons in bar area
- Check identification of customers to verify they are of legal drinking age
- Attempt to limit liability by restricting excessive alcohol intake
- Manage operation of the bar, including staff
Skills and qualities
Bartenders can gain work experience and advance to supervisory levels within a single establishment or across a chain of restaurants. You can also seek advancement by moving from smaller venues on to larger and more prestigious bars and clubs.
A degree in business or restaurant management, plus extensive work experience, can also lead to high-level management jobs in the industry. Some bartenders also go on to become bar owners.
Late nights, weekends, holidays
Bartender hours can vary according to the establishment's hours of operation. Full-time bartenders often work 10- to 12–hour shifts, with long periods of standing and limited breaks. Part-timers typically take on late night and weekend hours, which makes bartending an ideal second job.
Bartenders typically work indoors, but there are also outdoor jobs at beaches, hotel pools and catered events. Some jobs may require a uniform or specific dress code.
Bar work can be fast-paced and stressful, especially when dealing with intoxicated and disruptive patrons.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Qualifications and training
No formal education requirements
Most bartending jobs provide on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. Prospective bartenders may also take short-term courses at a vocational or technical school for lessons on mixing drinks, adhering to state and local laws, and dealing with customers. Some employers may provide textbook or online training materials.
Check local laws for age limit requirements for bartenders. Some states also demand a responsible-server course that covers legal restrictions and conflict management.
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022