How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide (2023)

Have you ever wondered how to become a bartender? Do you dream of mixing drinks, chatting with interesting people, and creating a lively atmosphere?

If so, you’re in for an exciting journey! But where do you start? What skills do you need? And what exactly does being a bartender involve?

Well, get ready to dive into the world of bartending as we uncover the secrets to success in this thrilling career.

In this article, I will guide you through the essential skills, daily tasks, and incredible opportunities that await you behind the bar. Let’s explore the path to becoming a talented bartender. Are you ready?

How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide (1)

What Does a Bartender Do?

As a bartender, you have essential responsibilities beyond simply serving drinks. Let’s break down what your day-to-day tasks involve:

  • Mixing and Serving Drinks: Your main job is to make delicious drinks for your customers. Whether it’s a classic cocktail or a unique creation, you use your skills to mix and serve beverages that satisfy their taste buds.
  • Interacting with Customers: Being a bartender means being social. You greet customers warmly, take their orders, and suggest drinks they might enjoy. You create a welcoming atmosphere by engaging with them in a friendly and attentive manner.
  • Keeping the Bar Stocked: You play a crucial role in making sure the bar is well-supplied. This means keeping track of inventory and making sure you have enough alcohol, mixers, and other ingredients. It ensures you have essential items during busy times.
  • Following Rules and Providing Great Service: Bartenders must follow legal and safety rules when serving alcohol. Checking I.D.s to confirm the legal drinking age is one example. By following these regulations and providing excellent customer service, you contribute to a positive experience for everyone.
  • Delivering Exceptional Customer Service: Customer service is a top priority. You aim to create a pleasant and memorable experience for each customer. You ensure they have a great time at the bar by being friendly, attentive, and responsive to their needs.

Being a bartender is more than just pouring drinks. It’s about mixing tasty beverages, connecting with customers, keeping the bar stocked, and providing outstanding service.

Scope and Opportunities in Bartending

Bartending has many job opportunities in the hospitality industry. There were 514,000 bartending jobs in the U.S. in 2021, and according to BLS, the field is expected to grow by 18% from 2021 to 2031. Bartenders can show their creativity by making unique drinks.

Bartenders earn an average salary of $11.70 per hour. Bartending also involves interacting with customers, learning new skills, and having a flexible schedule. It’s an exciting career with the potential for personal and financial growth.

How To Become A Bartender?

Education and Age Requirements

When it comes to becoming a bartender, there are a few things you need to consider. First, talk about education. While a high school diploma or GED is not always a strict requirement, having one can benefit your career. It shows that you have a basic level of education and dedication.

Next, let’s address the age requirements. Serving alcohol and tending bar comes with responsibilities, and each state has regulations.

In some places, you can start serving alcohol at the age of 16, while in others, you need to be at least 18 or 21. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific age requirements in the state where you plan to work.

Bartending School and Training

How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide (2)

Now, you might be wondering if attending bartending school is necessary. While it’s not a requirement, it can be a great way to kick-start your career.

Bartending schools offer specialized programs where you can learn the art of mixing drinks and gain valuable knowledge about bar safety. These courses can provide a solid foundation and help you stand out from the competition.

On the other hand, gaining on-the-job experience is also a viable path. Starting as a barback or working in related roles allows you to learn the ropes while directly involved in the bartending environment.

It’s a hands-on approach that gives you practical skills and a deeper understanding of the industry. Plus, you’ll be able to observe experienced bartenders in action and learn from their expertise.

Skill Development and Practice

How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide (3)

No matter which routes you choose, one thing is sure: gaining hands-on experience is essential for becoming a skilled bartender. Working in a bar or restaurant setting will expose you to real-life scenarios and help you develop your craft.

To excel in bartending, it’s important to practice regularly. Experiment with different mixing techniques and flavours to expand your repertoire.

Research new trends and taste profiles to stay up-to-date and offer unique experiences to your customers. The more you practice and explore, the more confident and knowledgeable you’ll become.

How Much Do Bartenders Make?

How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide (4)

Factors Affecting Bartender Salary

Regarding your earnings as a bartender, several factors come into play. Let’s take a closer look at what influences your salary:


Like in any profession, the more experience you have, the higher your earning potential. Bartenders with years of experience and a proven track record of exceptional service often command higher salaries.

Their expertise and reputation can attract more customers and increase tips.

Skill Level

Your level of skill and proficiency in bartending can also impact your salary. Bartenders with advanced knowledge of mixology, a vast repertoire of drink recipes, and the ability to create unique and memorable customer experiences are highly valued.

With exceptional skills, you can work at upscale establishments that offer higher salaries.


Where you work as a bartender can significantly influence your salary. Bartenders in major cities or popular tourist destinations often earn higher wages due to higher demand and a more extensive customer base.

These areas may have thriving nightlife or attract a wealthier clientele willing to spend more on drinks and provide more extensive tips.

Establishment Type

The type of establishment you work in can also affect your earning potential. Bartenders employed in high-end restaurants, luxury hotels, or trendy cocktail bars often earn higher salaries than those in neighbourhood pubs or casual dining establishments.

Upscale establishments typically charge premium drink prices, leading to larger tips and higher overall earnings.

Average Salary for Bartenders

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a bartender in the United States is $35,094 annually. Remember that this figure is an average, and actual salaries may vary depending on location, experience, and establishment type.

It’s important to note that bartenders often receive additional cash compensation through tips and base pay. The number of tips can significantly impact a bartender’s overall earnings.

Exceptional service, strong customer relationships, and memorable experiences can lead to higher tips from satisfied customers.

To better understand the salary structure for bartenders in your area, I recommend you research salary structure on Glassdoor or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These sites provide comprehensive data on wage trends and regional variations.

Essential Skills for Bartenders

Communication and Customer Service

Good communication skills and an outgoing personality are vital for interacting effectively with customers. Listening attentively and communicating clearly are essential to provide exceptional customer service and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Multitasking and Teamwork

Being able to multitask is essential for handling multiple responsibilities during busy hours. Collaborating with wait staff, cooks, and colleagues ensures smooth operations and a positive work environment.

Physical Stamina and Memory

Bartending requires physical stamina due to long periods of standing and lifting heavy objects. A strong memory is essential for remembering drink orders and customer preferences and providing personalized service.


Bartending is an exciting and rewarding career that allows you to showcase your creativity, interact with people, and make lasting memories. You can thrive in this dynamic industry with hard work and a love for the craft.

Cheers to a future full of endless possibilities!


How to Become a Bartender? The Ultimate Guide? ›

1. Thou shalt never get so drunk that you can't count the money. Bartenders are often encouraged to drink a little during their shift, whether because a regular wants to buy them a shot or the staff needs a morale booster.

How do I become a memorable bartender? ›

17 Useful Bartending Tips from Actual Bartenders
  1. Clean and Stock Up When It's Quiet.
  2. Make the Bar More Welcoming.
  3. Remember Your Loyal Customers.
  4. Be a Good Teammate.
  5. Be a Good Listener.
  6. Keep Tills Topped Up.
  7. Learn Repeatable Costs.
  8. Communicate Price Changes.
May 21, 2019

What is rule number 1 of bartender? ›

1. Thou shalt never get so drunk that you can't count the money. Bartenders are often encouraged to drink a little during their shift, whether because a regular wants to buy them a shot or the staff needs a morale booster.

Can you make 100k bartending? ›

Yes, bartenders can make 100k.

However, it is important to remember that this is not a guaranteed income and that earnings can vary greatly depending on location, experience, and tips.

What is the best paid bartender? ›

High End Bartender Salary
Annual SalaryWeekly Pay
Top Earners$92,500$1,778
75th Percentile$61,000$1,173
25th Percentile$29,000$557

How many drinks should a bartender remember? ›

Some people wonder how many drinks a bartender needs to learn to make when they learn this profession. The International Bartenders Association (IBA) has an official list of 77 drinks. Those drinks are seen as the true drink selection that can be requested at a bar.

What is the 50 rule in bartending? ›

50% rule. The proper time to serve customers the next cocktail is once they've consumed 50% of their drink. This is an excellent marker to provide attentive service and avoid over-serving.

What is the golden rule of bartending? ›

Almost all the classic drinks you know and love, from the Daiquiri to the Gimlet or the Margarita come down to the same basic ratio: 2:1:1. That's two parts spirit, one part sweet, and one part sour, commonly known as the Golden Ratio.

What are the 5 Ps of bartending? ›

Everything from why you shake, when you muddle, to the practicalities of the job, and what we call the five 'P's of world class service: pride, passion, preparation, professionalism and presentation.

Can a bartender make $1000 a night? ›

around $500 on average… and up to $1,000 on the best nights. If you're working here, you probably have many years of experience under your belt. Most upper-class bars have one thing in common: A wealthy clientele.

Can bartenders make $500 a night? ›

A bartender can make between $200 and $500 in one night in Los Angeles, but it is not that simple to determine those numbers. There are many factors that will contribute to the actual earnings that a bartender can obtain in a single night.

Can you live off being a bartender? ›

You can make a living as a full-time bartender, but how much extra cash you have to spend depends on a few factors. Your earning potential is affected by: The state's minimum wage. Bartenders have a lower minimum wage rate than others due to tips.

What state pays the most for bartenders? ›

Best-Paying States for Bartenders

The states and districts that pay Bartenders the highest mean salary are Arizona ($45,150), Hawaii ($44,680), Washington ($44,120), New York ($43,780), and District of Columbia ($42,790). How Much Do Bartenders Make in Your City?

What do most bartenders make an hour? ›

National estimates for Bartenders:
Percentile10%50% (Median)
Hourly Wage$ 9.18$ 14.12
Annual Wage (2)$ 19,100$ 29,380

What city do bartenders make the most money? ›

In fact, in 2020, 32.1 million people visited Arizona and in 2021 the state, which boasts the highest bartender salary average, dedicated $101.1 million in federal funding to continue its Visit Arizona Initiative program.

What are bartenders weaknesses? ›

Another downside is bartenders occasionally must deal with a drunk or obnoxious customer. This is especially challenging at closing time when only a few people remain in the bar. Bartenders may have to deal with threats or even physical altercations with unruly patrons late at night with few people around.

What is a hard skill for a bartender? ›

The most common hard skill for a bartender is wine. 23.4% bartenders have this skill on their resume. The second most common hard skill for a bartender is bartending appearing on 10.5% of resumes. The third most common is exceptional guest on 6.6% of resumes.

What is the 4 drink rule? ›

One technique to help you be honest with yourself is to take four coins (or as many coins as you are planning to have drinks that night) and place them in your back pocket. Each time you take a drink, move one of the coins into your other pocket.

What not to say to your bartender? ›

61 Things You Should Never Say To A Bartender
  • Is this your actual job?
  • But you seem so smart.
  • But you're REALLY funny.
  • Beer me.
  • Surprise me.
  • Can you make me something without calories?
Mar 25, 2014

How do bartenders know how much to pour? ›

The generally accepted free pouring technique and bartending counting method is to use a 4 count and have each number equal half an ounce poured. But counting to four doesn't make it the right amount. Counting to four at the right speed is what you're after. And the key to doing that is practice.

Do you pour liquor or soda first? ›

When making mixed drinks, first add ice, then liquor and then your mixers. The average pour of alcohol is 1.5 ounces (or a “jigger”), but depending on your mixers and audience, it can go anywhere from 1 to 2.

What does knocking on the bar mean? ›

Likewise, tapping your glass or mug on the bar signified when you started a new glass. Fraternity members frequently claim that it's an old Greek tradition. -Others say that it's a mark of respect to the bartender. Some believe that you cheers to the future, but a tap on the bar acknowledges the past.

What is the three beverage rule? ›

The first is water. The second is a source of caffeine. The third is something fun—a juice, a soda, a glass of wine on Friday afternoon (if your office is like that), a kombucha (if you are like that). Don't miss what matters.

What are the 4 gold rules? ›

What Are the 4 Rules of Gun Safety?
  • All guns are always loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  • Always be sure of your target and beyond.
Feb 8, 2022

What is a 5 second pour? ›

Volume. .5 Second. 5 mL or ⅙ Oz. 1 Seconds. 10 mL or ⅓ Oz.

What are the 4 competencies of bartending? ›

It covers four core competencies namely:
  • cleaning bar areas.
  • operating bar.
  • preparing and mixing cocktails and non-alcoholic. concoctions, and.
  • providing basic wine services.

What is the basic alcohol knowledge for bartender? ›

Drink Knowledge

Of course, bartenders should be familiar with the products they work with. Learning about whiskies, beer styles, wine varietals, and cocktails is essential. A bartender will often be asked for recommendations, required to make create cocktails on the fly, or offer food pairing choices for wine and beer.

Do female bartenders make more money? ›

And it means that a bartender woman earns 81.82% of what a bartender man makes in annual wages. This fact alludes to the persistent gender wage gap in labor statistics in which, on average, women earn about 84% of what men earn.

How much does the average bartender get in tips a day? ›

According to Indeed, the average bartender in the U.S. makes $150 per day in tips. The amount of tip money a bartender will make in one night is directly related to the pricing/clientele at that establishment and how many customers they serve.

Do barbacks get tips? ›

Barbacks are usually paid hourly, plus tips. The minimum tipped wage varies by state, but the national average annual salary for barbacks is $27,316 before tips, according to Glassdoor . Most restaurants tip out their barbacks, which can leave them making more than non-tipped positions like cooks and dishwashers.

Do male or female bartenders make more tips? ›

But, those in the service industry? “Everybody knows,” Emily says. The fact that male servers consistently make more money in tips than female servers seems almost counterintuitive.

Is bartending a side hustle? ›

Becoming a Bartender: Conclusion

Bartending is one of the most lucrative side hustles for people who work or attend school during the day, and it can even be a great full-time position for the right person.

What is the best city to be a bartender in? ›

Seattle, WA is the best city in the country for bartender jobs, where as New Jersey is the best state in the country.

Is it hard dating a bartender? ›

Because we expend most of our social energy at work, bartenders often need quiet time on our days off. This can be hard when you're dating a new person. They often expect you to be the fun-loving, energetic bartender personality that they first met, and it can be disappointing when your off-duty vibe is much different.

Do mixologists make more money than bartenders? ›

On average, bartenders make $39,710 per year and a mixologist makes $36,884 per year .

Can you drink being a bartender? ›

In most professions, drinking at work would not only be highly frowned upon, but would most likely lead to you being fired. Bartending though, is often the exception to the rule. Bartenders are not only allowed to drink while on the job, but may be encouraged to.

Do bartenders prefer cash? ›

If you pay with your card, definitely go for the 20 percent tip, but keep in mind that bartenders always prefer cash. Alternatively, you can pay with a credit card and then leave the tip in cash, which is a nice gesture.

What percentage of bartender pay is tips? ›

“Servers tip 5% of [total] sales to the bar; bartenders tip 25% of that to support staff” (gastropub) “5% of beverage sales” (casual-dining chain)

Are bartenders high in demand? ›

Bartender Projected Growth In The United States

Projected job growth for bartenders is 8% from 2018-2028. There are over 568,533 bartenders currently employed in the United States. There are 57,518 active bartender job openings in the US based on job postings. The average salary for a bartender is $26,362.

How many drinks should a bartender make in an hour? ›

How Many Drinks Can a Bartender Serve in One Hour? If you hire a professional and experienced bartender, they should be able to serve 60-90 drinks in one hour.

Do bartenders make more money than servers? ›

Depending on the place, a server may make less money than their bartending counterparts. At the bar people throw cash at you like it's going out of style. Meanwhile, the couple on a date at table 40 may not spend as much.

Do bartenders make more than wait staff? ›

Who makes more money, a waitress or a bartender? Depends on the establishment. Typically a bartender though. They build closer relationships with their customers and thus typically better tips - which is why bartenders have set schedules, so customers know when to go in and see them.

What type of bars make the most money? ›

The top 5 Most Profitable Bar Foods
  • Bars without a kitchen: Pizza.
  • Bars short on table space: Burgers.
  • Bars with an established kitchen: Pasta.
  • Bars open early or late: Breakfast.
  • Bars serving wine drinkers: Tapas.

What kind of bartender makes the most money? ›

The highest-paid bartender job is a head bartender.

Head Bartenders earn an average salary of $89,366, which is $ 42.96 hourly.

Can you make 100000 as a bartender? ›

Yes, you can make $100,000 per year as a bartender server.

While possible, it is unlikely to earn over $100k as a bartender server because even higher-paid positions do not typically earn more than $53,000 per year.

Can you make a decent living as a bartender? ›

A bartender's salary depends on bartending experience, location, and business size. For example, the average bartender salary in California is just over $30,400. While the average salary in Illinois is just under $27,000 in 2021.

What makes you a good candidate for this position bartender? ›

Outstanding candidates will be knowledgeable about popular and classic cocktails, and will be opinionated about how to best pair these drinks with your menu items. They will be outgoing and will be able to upsell drinks without being too pushy. They'll be reliable, hardworking, and will work well in teams.

Is it hard to be a good bartender? ›

Bartending looks like an easy job but it's actually hard work. Just like any other type of employment, you have to know what to expect first before you get into it.

Where do bartenders make the most money? ›

Best-Paying States for Bartenders

The states and districts that pay Bartenders the highest mean salary are Arizona ($45,150), Hawaii ($44,680), Washington ($44,120), New York ($43,780), and District of Columbia ($42,790). How Much Do Bartenders Make in Your City?

How do you pass a bartender interview? ›

How To Prepare For A Bartending Interview
  1. First, make sure you thoroughly read the bartender job description. ...
  2. Second, do your research. ...
  3. Third, make a good first impression. ...
  4. Four, learn how to use different types of restaurant tech. ...
  5. What do you like about bartending is the #1 question asked in interviews for bartenders.

What should I say in a bartender interview? ›

Tell me about your bartending experience.

Don't just tell them which bars you've worked at when, but instead talk about what you learned and what made each position unique. If you don't have any bartending experience, you can still talk about any similar work experience that helps qualify you for this position.

What is a bartenders favorite drink to make? ›

Lots of bartenders love making a perfectly balanced classic cocktail, like a Negroni or Old-Fashioned – and sometimes they add their own twist to it. Some said their favorite cocktail to make a less well-known traditional recipe or a variation thereof, like a Sazerac, Bijou, or Clover Club.

What are the negatives of being a bartender? ›

You often have to work nights and weekends

Because many others have an opposite schedule, working in bartending can mean you don't have the same free time as others in your family or friend group. Some bartenders also have to work on holidays, which might not work for your needs.

What are the disadvantages of being a bartender? ›

Cons of being a bartender:

As an extension of the fact that bartending keeps you moving, it can also require a lot of heavy lifting, high reaching and low bending. For those who may need to avoid that type of physical activity, this job may not be the best for you.


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