- Bartenders don’t require any specific education but do require permits in some states.
- Bartending involves several different skill sets, many of which can be learned on the job.
- When hiring a bartender, look for patience, politeness, and friendliness in a face-to-face interview.
Bartending requires a broad range of skills as well as deep subject matter knowledge. Although their jobs can vary significantly by location, bartenders essentially answer to two parties: their establishment and their customers. An efficient, knowledgeable, and personable bartender can be a godsend for a business. They act as one of the primary conduits for money to enter a business and often are the face of the business to a customer.
Because a bartender handles many roles, knowing who and how to hire can be tricky. While finding the right bartender can be a challenge, it need not be a chore. Knowing what to look for and how to vet a bartender can save a manager time and effort, and can ultimately lead to a good hire.
Below we’ll detail the tasks a bartender has to be able to perform. In addition, we’ll give suggestions for what to look for when hiring and provide a sample bartender job description.
Education and Background
Bartenders don’t need any formal education or even a high school diploma to do their job. However, some bartenders opt to take a course from a bartending school. Courses like this can be a plus but are not strictly necessary for a bartender to be competent.
Many states require a bartender to have certification or licensing to serve alcohol, and of course there are age requirements. Check your state’s laws to learn what’s required in your area.
Aside from formal training, bartenders learn most of their skills on the job. Drink recipes, laws regarding serving, how to use and maintain bar equipment, and requirements specific to the establishment can all be taught, even to novice bartenders.
Skills for Job Description
Bartenders often wear many hats in a business and need to be flexible. However, some core skills stand out as most important: making and serving drinks, maintaining the bar area, interacting with customers, and working as part of a team.
Making and serving drinks
The job title “bartender” implies that serving alcoholic beverages is the core of the job, which in many cases is true. Bartenders need to know how to create and serve a wide variety of drinks beyond beer, wine, and simple mixed drinks like a gin and tonic.
Cocktails are increasingly popular and a veteran mixologist will have a well-established arsenal of cocktail recipes memorized. In addition to what they already know, a bartender should be flexible enough to remember the bar menu and even create new recipes when asked to do so. Many experienced bartenders will tell you that’s a fun part of the job, anyway.
Being efficient while making drinks, i.e. making drinks to the correct recipe and without waste, is a crucial part of bartending. This helps save the business money since every drop of liquor spilled costs money. While a restaurant owner or manager shouldn’t fret over minute losses, sizable waste can lead to sizable financial losses over time. Bartenders are human, so some degree of waste is to be expected. However, the more efficient the bartender is the better the owner’s books look.
One of the most important aspects of serving drinks is being able to work quickly and remember several orders at once. This is especially true when an establishment is busy and can potentially be stressful. A bartender who can plan ahead, work quickly, and stay cool under fire while maintaining consistency and quality is a valuable employee indeed.
A good way to vet a potential bartender is to ask them their opinions on beverages like cocktails or liquor as well as ask them their favorite recipes. Most competent bartenders have opinions in the field and will be able to readily demonstrate knowledge when asked.
Maintaining the bar area
Besides knowing how to make and serve drinks, bartenders need to know how to maintain the bar area and the equipment in it. The trope of a bartender constantly polishing his or her bar with a rag is not far from the truth: Keeping the area clean is one of the most important roles to convey in a bartender job description.
Bartenders also need to maintain and look after glassware, which is a crucial element of the bar. Depending on the establishment, a bartender may need to wash glasses or small dishes used at the bar.
Many busy establishments use high-end equipment in their bars like automatic cocktail mixers, frozen drink dispensers, and in-bar soft drink dispensers. Bartenders need to know how to use and maintain these pieces of equipment, including keeping them properly cleaned.
Bartenders will also have to keep track of payments made by customers and be able to use point-of-sale software or a cash register. Keeping track of multiple payments at once is an important skill, especially during busy hours.
Finally, bartenders will often need to keep track of the bar inventory and alert their managers when they need more of a certain item.
To see how a bartender might handle bar maintenance, you can ask them what they’d do during slow times at work. If they indicate they’d busy themselves with making sure the bar is clean, prepared, and otherwise functioning properly, you’ve probably got a good hire on hand.
Interacting with customers
Bartenders often act as the face of an establishment, interacting directly with customers. They’ll take drink orders, tend a cash register, make sure customers are of the legal drinking age and add to the guest experience by being patient, polite, and friendly. Bartenders will also often serve snacks or food ordered at the bar, and in that way be part server as well.
Unsurprisingly, this task requires strong communication skills and a friendly, positive demeanor. Many regular customers at bars or restaurants have a favorite bartender they’re happy to return to, so a potential hire should have a warm personality. A sense of humor and patience are often appreciated at a bar both by customers and other team members.
Bartenders should be knowledgeable enough about alcohol and food to make recommendations to customers based on their preferences.
Because bartenders often interact with intoxicated people, they need to be calm and steady as well. Overly intoxicated people can be aggressive in asking for more drinks when they’ve been denied, and it’s a bartender’s responsibility — in many cases, legally — to prevent overserving.
A good way to find out how a bartender would handle customers is to ask them about previous real-world situations or hypothetical scenarios. For example, you can ask them how they have or how they would handle difficult customers, or how they coped with a particularly busy or stressful night at work.
Working as part of a team
Very few bartenders operate alone: they work with servers, barbacks, managers, kitchen staff, other bartenders, and more when doing their job. The interpersonal skills that are important in serving customers are also important in working with a team.
Bartenders will need to communicate with all other staff to ensure customers are getting what they need. They’ll need strong listening and short-term organizational skills since lots of orders can come their way at once. In a restaurant with a bar, for example, a bartender may be expected to serve drinks to customers in their section of the bar as well as prepare drinks for tables on the floor. Thus, they’ll need to communicate with wait staff to receive orders and let them know how long the orders will take to make.
Ideally, bartenders will share a sense of camaraderie with other staff and be willing to pick up others’ slack when necessary, especially during a rush.
Asking a bartender about a time they’ve enjoyed working as part of a team can give you some insight into their thoughts. Positive team experience of any kind can be valuable, even if it’s high school sports: knowing how to work together towards a common goal is a valuable skill.
Bartender Job Description Sample
A lot of bartender job descriptions are overdone. Most of what you need to know about a potential bartender can be discovered in an interview. Here is an example job description for a bartender:
- Greet customers and introduce them to menu options and items.
- Prepare and serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including garnishing.
- Take orders from customers or other wait staff as required.
- Maintain and clean the bar area and bar equipment.
- Process customer payments as necessary, maintaining thorough records.
- Ensure customers are of legal drinking age.
- Prevent overserving according to the law.
- Interact with customers and other staff in a polite and courteous manner.
Skills and Experience
- Experience bartending preferred.
- High school degree preferred.
- Knowledge of alcoholic beverages highly preferred.
- Ability to stand for a long time, as well as lift heavy objects like kegs.
- Ability to handle money and conduct transactions swiftly.
- Legal serving certification (depending on state).
- Of legal age to serve (depending on state).
- Willingness to be a team player.
That should cover most of the bases. When looking for a bartender, look for someone who’s personable and trustworthy above all else. They can be made into a good bartender even if they lack experience.
How Do You Make Your Bartender Job Description Stand Out?
There are tons of job ads out there, and potential employees will likely skim through plenty of them. You need to make your bartender job description as concise as possible while giving as much information as you can to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Like all employees, bartenders can be motivated by a good salary or a promise of high tips — expected pay is certainly one of the most important things an employee looks for. Clearly indicating pay is an effective way to grab a prospective employee’s eye.
Additionally, if you want to find team members who are excited to be on your team, you’ll need to indicate what kind of atmosphere they can expect at work. When hiring, consider the following when writing your listing to attract employees that will fit your establishment:
- What perks can the bartender expect? For example: food, free drinks after a shift, bonuses, holidays, etc.
- What kind of a team atmosphere does the workplace have? Is it professional and formal or loose and relaxed?
- How much prestige or cool factor can a bartender expect to come with the job? If the venue is a popular, well-known establishment, working there can give the bartender some extra pride in their job. Alternatively, if it’s a new establishment, the employee could be excited to be part of the venture.
- How closely will the bartender be working with management? Some employees like lots of direct contact with management while others prefer to be mostly left to their job.
- What do current employees like about working at your establishment?
Working With Pared
All food and beverage owners know that hiring can be a hassle. It can especially be a hassle if you have to do it in a hurry and find your options limited.
However, Pared is looking to make that problem a thing of the past. When you use Pared, you’ll be able to staff your kitchen with a Pro in as little as two hours. That means short notice isn’t a problem anymore. Check out Pared and see what it’s like to never be short-staffed again.