Bartender Job Description

What does a bartender do?

Mixing and serving alcoholic drinks is the obvious answer but there is so much more. There are two categories for any bartender job – Bar Duties and Customer Service.

a bartender in mask cleans behind the bar

Bar Duties

Keep all surfaces clean

Cleanliness is of the utmost importance when working behind a bar. No one wants to belly up to a sticky or wet bartop. Remember the last time your arm stuck to a table that had been poorly wiped or neglected? That reflects poorly on the establishment.

Always use clean glassware and utensils

Drinks must be served in sparkling, clean glassware every time. Have you ever gotten a glass with the last customer’s lipstick still visible on it? I have and I can assure you, I didn’t stick around. COVID also makes this duty especially vital for the safety of your customers.

Accept payments

You will have to be comfortable handling money – whether it is cash, debit or credit. Cash is less and less common but you still have to be comfortable counting it up quickly and accurately. 

Understand the Point Of Sale system

Every establishment will have a POS system, or Point Of Sale system. Some are on the latest update of Squirrel or Micros, which will track and record sales for you. Smaller establishments may still be on pen and paper. It is up to you to balance the cash receipts at the end of your shift.

Maintain inventory

Make sure your bar manager is aware of inventory needs. It will be a bad day when there is no more vodka or grapefruit juice in the well and your next customer asks for a Greyhound. If there are beer kegs in your establishment, you will also have to keep an eye on their levels.

Know company policies

Every establishment will have its own policies, from “Be nice or leave” to “The customer is always right.” Get to know the company policies of your establishment to know how management will (or won’t) back you up.

a bartender strains a cocktail into a chilled glass for a customer

Customer Service

Know laws and regulations

Every region has its own legal drinking age and liability laws for serving alcohol. This falls under the category of customer service because it defines when you may have to refuse to serve a customer. Make sure you know your local regulations so as not to endanger yourself or your employer with lawsuits, fines or a revoked liquor license.

Verify customer’s age and ID

Now that you are crystal clear on the legal drinking age in your area, it is your duty to verify your customer’s age and identity. There are nice ways and rude ways of doing this. We always make sure to be polite or flattering when asking for ID. You never want a customer to feel unwelcome, even for a moment. If they should seem offended by asking for ID, it is always easiest to deflect and say with a smile, “Sorry, it’s the law.”

Impeccable customer service

An excellent bartender is capable of mixing traditional drinks as well as creative cocktails. Serving quality cocktails with a great attitude will please both your employer and customer, which means more money in your pocket.

Bartender experience requirements

People who are new to bartending often have some kind of experience in hospitality, retail or front desk work. Any job that is public-facing makes for good experience on a resume. It shows that you have worked in the trenches and know how to work with people.

If a manager is deciding between two new candidates with similar experience, the candidate with a bartending school certification will stand out.


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