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H.S. Diploma
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What is a Bartender?

Also known as: Barmaid, Barman, Mixologist, Barkeep.

A bartender is someone who mixes and serves drinks to customers, either directly from patrons at the bar, or through waiters and waitresses who place drink orders for dining room customers. They must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks accurately, quickly, and without waste. Bartenders work in restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and other food service establishments.

What does a Bartender do?

A bartender will typically do the following:

  • Greet customers, inform them about daily specials, and give them menus
  • Take drink orders
  • Pour wine and serve draft or bottled beer and other alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks
  • Mix drinks according to recipes
  • Check identification of customers to ensure they are of legal drinking age
  • Clean bars, tables, and work areas
  • Operate cash registers, collect payments from customers, and return change
  • Manage bar operation and order and maintain liquor and bar supplies

Some establishments, especially busy establishments with many customers, use equipment that automatically measures, pours, and mixes drinks at the push of a button. Bartenders who use this equipment, however, still must work quickly to handle a large quantity of drink orders and be familiar with the ingredients for special drink requests. In some establishments they may also use carbonated beverage dispensers, cocktail shakers or accessories, commercial strainers, mist or trigger sprayers, and ice shaver machines.

In addition to mixing and serving drinks, bartenders stock and prepare garnishes for drinks and maintain an adequate supply of ice and other bar supplies. They also may wash glassware and utensils, and serve food to customers who eat at the bar. They are typically responsible for ordering and maintaining an inventory of liquor, mixers, and other bar supplies.

What is the workplace of a Bartender like?

Bartenders work in restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and other food service establishments.

How can I become a Bartender?

Although most jurisdictions require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 19 years old (Canada) or 21 years old (USA), many employers prefer to hire people who are 25 or older. Some bartenders qualify through work-related experience. They may start as bartender helpers and progress into full-fledged bartenders as they learn basic mixing procedures and recipes. New workers often learn by working with a more experienced bartender.

Some employers teach new workers using self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain service skills. Such programs communicate the philosophy of the establishment, help new bartenders build personal rapports with other staff, and instil a desire to work as a team.

Some bartenders learn their skills by attending a school for bartending or by attending bartending classes at a vocational or technical school. These programs include instruction on how to stock a bar, learning popular cocktail recipes, food safety procedures, basic customer service, teamwork, and learning about local laws and regulations. Programs also provide an opportunity to discuss proper ways to handle unruly customers and unpleasant situations. Most courses last a few weeks, with some schools helping their graduates to find jobs.

Advancement for bartenders is usually limited to finding a job in a busier or more expensive restaurant or bar where prospects of earning tips are better. Some bartenders advance to supervisory jobs, such as dining room supervisor, maitre d’, assistant manager, or restaurant general manager.

Because establishments that serve alcohol rely on retaining old customers, and attracting new customers, bartenders should have good customer service skills to ensure repeat business. Because of the legal issues that come with serving alcohol, bartenders must make good decisions at all times. For example, they should be able to detect intoxicated customers and deny service to those customers. They also should be friendly, tactful, and attentive when dealing with customers. For example, they should be able to tell a joke and laugh with a customer to build rapport.

Bartenders work on their feet for long periods of time. Many lift heavy cases of liquor, beer, or other bar supplies. They often fill drink orders for waiters and waitresses who are serving dining room customers. As a result, bartenders must work well with their colleagues to ensure that customers receive prompt service.



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Further Reading

  • A Day In The Life Of A Bartender

    “Bartending is just a not a side-line way of making extra money quickly… it is a profession”. Mixologist Chanel Horn gives us insight on the life of a bartender.

  • From Behind The Bar: So You Want To Be A Bartender

    In many ways, I have the perfect job. I drink for a living, sleep until noon, and spend my nights haunting various bars around New York City.

  • A Day In The Life Of A Bartender

    As a Bartender onboard a cruise ship, I generally work in 12 hour shifts which are usually split as I am not expected to work an entire shift of 12 hours in one go - especially as shifts on board cruise ships do not always end after 12 hours!

  • Day In The Life Of A Mixologist: The Perfect Mixer

    Meet a special breed of bartender: the mixologist. No ordinary dispenser of bar favourites, this specialist weaves magic with drink ingredients to create the stunning concoctions that can make or break a hospitality establishment, party or special event.

  • What It's Like To Be ... A Bartender

    Every workplace has a star. And according to Jeff Bell, the head bartender at Please Don't Tell, a speakeasy located in Manhattan's East Village, the worker who shines the brightest in any drinking or eating establishment is the man, or woman, behind the bar.

  • So You Want My Job: Bartender

    Let bartender Mike Hagan pour you a drink as he offers some advice on being an administer of spirits.

  • The Do’s And Don’ts Of Becoming A Bartender

    Bartending jobs can be elusive. If you are someone that has a strong desire to get behind a bar but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips that I find myself dispensing often.

  • What It Takes To Be A Professional Bartender

    One of the most coveted positions in the food and beverage industry is that of professional bartender. Bartending is a social job, more glamorous than bussing tables with lots of opportunity for working in unique and exciting venues.

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