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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.
A bartender will typically do the following:
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.
Bartenders work in restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and other food service establishments.
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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