Bartender Job Description, Salary & Duties

Bartender:  Job Description, Salary, Duties

An exceptional bartender would always have a knack for creating classic and innovative, tasty drinks while mesmerizing the customers. Your ideal bartender would know how to concoct a delectable drink exceeding customers’ needs and expectations and create a euphoric atmosphere. What is expected of a bartender essentially is serving snacks, drinks, and a vibe synchronized with the atmosphere? Variation and dynamicity in the skillset of a bartender is something that is sought after by their customers. A Bartender, however, is only as good as the quality of his drinks – Mixing various ingredients like liquor, soda, water, concentrates, fruits, etc., into endless possibilities to create little moments of magic for every customer to cherish. Bartenders know what their customers need even when they don’t know it themselves. They are also well versed in keeping track of the business. They always know what’s where, as the stock of various wines, beers, liquors, and other related supplies. From verifying customers’ age to producing crafty tricks, bartending is much more than just serving a drink. Bartending can be a fascinating career prospect and is now considered one of today’s most sought-after positions in the hospitality industry. Read more about the bartender job description

Steps To Become A Bartender 

  • The minimum age required to become a bartender varies from 18-21. Many states in the United States don’t require a legal drinking age to become a bartender. 
  • Bartending program licensed by your state’s Department of Education. (Not always a requirement in certain restaurants or bars)
  • A state bartending license; some states require a liquor license from the state regulatory board to work as a bartender legally.
  • Displaying good customer skills.
  • Skilled in mixing and garnishing.
  • A good track record of taking and delivering orders.
  • Situational awareness.

Education And Background

Having formal training or college education wasn’t always necessary to become a bartender during the early years. Even today, bartenders can be found without any professional training or certification. The trade was usually learned and grasped through years of experience and observation, usually under the guidance of a mentor who has already mastered the art. However, with the advent of establishments requiring to go legit and have a license, many restaurants now require bartenders to have professional training along with proper certification. 

Salary of a Bartender

The salary can vary depending on many other factors such as education, experience, certification, and other soft skills that further support the role. This can be supplemented by ‘tips’ that the bartender may receive for their service to customers. As the bartenders’ skills and experience increase, proportionally, the salary and designation may increase. The average annual base salary for a bartender is $20,342 and can go as high as $32,000. The average base salary of a bartender is $11.98 per hour and racking about $150 in tips a day. 

Highest Paying Cities in the United States for Bartenders

  • Washington, DC – $16.73                                    
  • Houston, Texas – $15.61                                      
  • Los Angeles, California – $15.61
  • New York, NY – $14.42
  • Atlanta, GA – $13.49
  • Denver, CO – $13.21

Bartender Job Description

Responsibilities Of A Bartender 

As with any profession, being a bartender comes with its own set of responsibilities that must be adhered to such as:

  • Preparing alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages for patrons.
  • Knowledgeable about classic drinks and also well versed with uncommon drinks.
  • Interacting with customers, taking their orders, and serving them drinks and snacks.
  • Mixing and garnishing, often experimenting with new items.
  • Checking dry and wet stock at the beginning of every shift.
  • Keeping customers entertained and happy, showcasing an arsenal of tricks helps keep customers engaged.
  • Being a team player
  • Being physically fit to handle heavy utensils and having the stamina to stand and serve continuously for hours.
  • Maintaining cleanliness.
  • Providing great customer service.
  • Engineering a menu to give options to patrons.
  • Making recommendations to new and confused customers.
  • Complying with food and regulations.
  • Having situational awareness to prevent any accident, injury, or brawl between patrons or the staff.
  • Assessing intoxication levels of customers.
  • Being punctual and having a good memory to remember long orders and the customers who ordered them.

Being a bartender is an interesting profession to pursue, but it comes with a long list of responsibilities and moral duties. Having good ethics is appreciated everywhere, especially in an environment. Drinks can help in having a good time, but too much of it can be harmful not just personally but also socially. A bartenders’ judgment in resolving a fight prevents harm to both the customers and the establishment. Bartending is a job replete with stress. Bartenders work in an evident, pressure-packed environment. They must simultaneously meet the management’s expectations and satisfy customers’ demands. A bartender being reliable goes without saying. 


A bartender needs to know incredible amounts of information at the back of his hand when it comes to the variety of drinks and food recipes, but what’s the point in this craft if one does not make an effort to make their customer’s night the best one they’ve had yet? A bartenders’ behavior is something that is often overlooked by some old-timers as well as the new ones coming into the trade. It is viewed by them as trivial to have a good sense of customer care.

Bartenders are one of the most important elements in an establishment. Them being the primary source of interaction between a business and the customer, their energy needs to be welcoming and relaxing while interacting with their customers. Energy is profound as it can make or break a customer’s whole experience of a night out, get-together, party, or birthday. As aforementioned, a great bartender knows how to make a tasty drink and creates a euphoric atmosphere. Making drinks is a byproduct of this function.  

Basic behaviors which help a bartender in their workplace to get tips and loyal customers along with good rapport with their employers:-

  • Interacts well with their customers, listening to their demands and assessing the situation present at the bar.
  • Giving recommendations to new customers and surprising regulars with creative fusions of drinks.
  • Having a good work ethic.
  • Being attentive.
  • Positive attitude and personality, displaying manners and respect.
  • Being punctual.
  • Apologizing to customers waiting for a while.
  • Possessing good relationships with their colleagues.
  • Being respectful to every demographic.
  • Adaptability to any situation.
  • Listening to customer complaints and suggestions.
  • Focusing on seeking a solution instead of on the problem.
  • Following drinks management, sanitation, and safety protocols.
  • Confident and a ball of energy.
  • Refusing service of drinks to underage customers

What Every Bartender Should Know

A bartender should know many recipes for drinks, snacks, and tricks to keep their guests amused. However, just knowing how to shake drinks, cook food and juggle glasses does not make a person a bartender. If that was the case, almost everybody could be termed as one. There’s much more to this craft than what meets the eye. Fundamentals like bar-lingo, cocktail lingo, presentation, understanding of liquor and other beverages, and mixing techniques are what separates an average joe from a professional bartender. 

Bartending Tools

A bartender should know how to create drinks that are of taste behind the bar, and to do that, they require more than just liquor, mixes, and food. The tools used in creating drinks are just as important, and their functions should be on the tips of the bartender. 

While being in the profession of bartending, some tools you’d have to be familiar with are;

  • Bar Mats- A rectangular-shaped thick and heavy rubber mat on which the bartender prepares drinks to avoid spillage. 
  • Service mats- Like Bar mats, service mats are where a bartender places drinks ready to serve to the customer.
  • Bar Spoons- Used to stir cocktails.
  • Jigger- for measuring the amount of drinks and mixers in a cocktail/ mocktail. 
  • Juicer- To extract juice from the fruit.
  • Bottle opener- Used to open capped beverages.
  • Corkscrew- Used for removal of a cork.
  • Cocktail shaker- Used to shake and mix ingredients.
  • Cocktail rack- Metal rack holding liquor and mixers
  • Cocktail pourer- Assists in pouring beverages
  • Ice bucket- To store ice and keep beverages chilly. 
  • Cutting board- To cut garnishes.
  • Ice crusher – To crush ice according to their requirement.
  • Ice kit – Used to create different shapes of ice.
  • Muddler – Used to crush herbs, spices, and fruits to release and infuse their flavors into the drink.
  • Peeler – Used to peel lemons and other items to garnish cocktails.
  • Rimmer – Used for cutting, trimming, and ornamenting the rim.
  • Zester – Used to remove fine shreds of zest from citrus fruit.
  • Glass Rack-It can be mounted on a wall or hang overhead, sites stemware, including wine glass.
  • Glass Washer- commercial washing built too quickly and efficiently wash and rinse large quantities of glassware.
  • Ice maker- Standalone appliance used to make ice.

Cocktail Lingo

A bartender who keeps on creating cocktails and experiments for new ones is usually exposed to these terms 

  • Splash and dash – smallest measurement
  • Mixers – non-alcoholic ingredients mixed in a drink

Bar Lingo

Anyone who visits a bar frequently or is employed at one would be familiar with lingos that they often use. So it’s always good to know the lingo to react accordingly. 

  • On the rocks – One of the most famous bar lingos, on the rocks refers to drinks served on ice.
  • Top Shelf – Usually said as a reference to the best brands available.
  • Well or Call drink – ‘Well’ refers to a section in the bar where in-house drinks are stored. Whereas ‘Call’ refers to a specific brand of beverage.
  • Neat – An alcoholic drink without any mixers.
  • Bottoms up – Finish
  •  off the drink in a single go!

Difference Between Cocktails and Mixed Drinks

To any normal person outside the bartending and hospitality profession, drinks mixed with other beverages are what is perceived as a cocktail. This perception stems from the belief that an alcoholic drink mixed with other mixers such a lime or orange is a cocktail. This isn’t true in most cases and here’s why: 

  • Cocktails – Traditionally, a mixed drink is a combination of distilled liquor(s), a sweetener, bitters, and water. A traditional and one of the most famous cocktails is Long Island iced tea. However, a martini, popularised by James Bond movies, contains no sweeteners in it. Gaining a much broader term in the modern era.
  • Mixed Drinks – Any beverage made combining two or more beverages, or ingredients is a mixed drink. One such example is cape codder – a mixture of vodka and cranberry juice. Another example is classic rum and coke. Contrary to popular belief, a mixed drink isn’t necessarily an alcoholic drink mixed with something else.  

Drink Mixing Techniques 

Possessing the knowledge of tools and lingos and knowing the different drinks is necessary, but what’s most memorable for a customer who’s waiting for his/her order isn’t just her/his drink. It’s the preparation of his/her Piña Colada. After equipping with all the tools and sliced lemon at hand, all that’s left is mixing a drink and pouring it.  For the untutored, the art of drink mixing is a monstrous task. But for a bartender, most of the cocktail recipes involve just shaking and stirring, whereas some require theatrics of juggling the shaker from hand to elbow to balancing on the fist. In contrast, some involve tossing the beverage from one shaker to ANOTHER shaker! 

  • Shaken Not Stirred – along with Martini, this mixing technique was also popularised globally by the James Bond movies.  Generally, drinks are stirred to mix the ingredients but some drinks are shaken and then directly poured producing a different taste.
  • Straining – This shaking involves draining the liquor and removing the ice as it’s now broken up and wouldn’t last long.
  • Topping- Finishing off the drink by filling the glass with soda or water.
  • Roll a Drink- Mix a drink by “tossing” it from one vessel to another.
  • Building– pouring all the ingredients into the glass being served instead of preparing it in a shaker.
  • Layering- gently pouring different colored liquids on top of each other so that a separation can be seen between them.
  • Blending- mixing drinks by throwing the ingredients into an electronic blender. Normally used while wanting to mix heavier ingredients such as fruits, ice cream, etc to achieve a thicker/fuller texture.
  • Garnishing- practice of adding something to the final drink to make it look aesthetically pleasing.

Also, read Barista Job Description, Salary & Skills Required

Bartender Job Description, Salary & Duties

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