Is Bartending Hard? The Truth About the Demands of the Job

A long-standing employment option for many people, bartending is one that has been around for millennia.

It is a position that calls for a specific set of abilities, such as the capacity to mix cocktails, pour shots, and serve beer. Bartending can be difficult and stressful, despite what some people may believe.

We, bartenders, are aware that our work involves more than just making cocktails. It entails working long hours, interacting daily with different people, and being on your feet all the time.

Additionally, bartenders have difficulties including managing the bar, dealing with troublesome patrons, and cleaning up after guests. Bartending can be a fulfilling career for those who enjoy connecting with people and providing top-notch customer service, despite the difficulties.

It’s crucial to balance the benefits and drawbacks of a bartending job. While working as a bartender can be entertaining and exciting, it also calls for commitment and hard effort.

Attending bartending school can be helpful in learning the skills necessary to become a successful bartender, but it is also important to have a positive attitude, a smile on your face, and the ability to handle stressful situations.

Tipping can also be a significant part of a bartender’s income, so it’s important to be attentive and provide excellent service.

Is Bartending Hard?

As bartenders, we are often asked if our job is hard. The answer is not a simple yes or no.

It depends on various factors, such as the establishment we work in, the type of customers we serve, and our own skills and experience. In this section, we will explore what a bartender does, the challenges we face, and the pros and cons of being a bartender.

What Does a Bartender Do?

A bartender is responsible for serving drinks and cocktails to customers. We also need to prepare and garnish drinks, handle cash and credit card transactions, and keep the bar area clean and organized.

In addition, we need to be knowledgeable about different types of alcohol, mixers, and glasses, and be able to make recommendations to customers. A good bartender should also have excellent communication and customer service skills, be able to multitask and remain calm under pressure.

The Challenges of Bartending

Bartending can be a challenging job for several reasons. Firstly, it can be physically demanding, especially during busy shifts or when we need to lift heavy boxes or kegs.

Secondly, it can be mentally exhausting, as we need to remember drink recipes, handle difficult customers, and deal with unexpected situations. Thirdly, it can be emotionally draining, as we may need to deal with intoxicated or emotional customers.

Finally, bartending can be a stressful job, as we need to work long hours, often on weekends and holidays, and deal with the pressure of meeting sales targets and making tips.

Pros and Cons of Being a Bartender

Like any job, bartending has its pros and cons. Some of the pros of being a bartender include the opportunity to meet new people, the potential to make good money through tips, and the flexibility to work part-time or full-time.

Additionally, bartending can be a fun and rewarding career for those who enjoy working in a fast-paced environment and creating new cocktails. However, there are also some cons to being a bartender.

For example, the job can be physically and mentally exhausting, and it may require working long hours, including late nights and weekends. Additionally, bartending may not offer the same benefits as other careers, such as health insurance or retirement plans.

The Skills You Need to Be a Bartender

As bartenders, we need to have a diverse set of skills to excel at our job.

Here are some of the most important skills that we need to have:


Mixology is the art of creating cocktails. As bartenders, we need to know how to mix different ingredients to create a perfect drink.

We need to know the right amount of alcohol, mixers, and garnishes to use for each cocktail. We also need to know how to shake, stir, and strain drinks.

To become an expert mixologist, you can attend a bartending school or take online courses. You can also learn on the job by practicing and experimenting with different ingredients.

Customer Service

Customer service is a crucial skill for bartenders. We need to be friendly, approachable, and attentive to our customers’ needs.

We need to be able to handle difficult customers and resolve conflicts with a smile. We also need to be knowledgeable about the drinks we serve and be able to make recommendations.

To improve your customer service skills, you can attend customer service training courses or practice active listening and empathy.


Bartending can be a hectic job, especially on a Friday night. We need to be able to multitask and handle multiple orders at once.

We need to be able to prioritize and manage our time efficiently. We also need to be able to work under pressure and stay calm in stressful situations.

To improve your multitasking skills, you can practice juggling multiple tasks at once or use time management techniques like the Pomodoro technique.

Cleanliness and Organization

Cleanliness and organization are essential skills for bartenders. We need to keep our bar area clean and tidy at all times.

We need to be able to handle clean-up and restocking efficiently. We also need to be able to keep track of inventory and orders.

To improve your cleanliness and organization skills, you can practice good hygiene habits, use checklists, and implement a system for inventory management.

Overall, being a bartender can be a challenging and rewarding career. It requires hard work, dedication, and a passion for creating great drinks and providing excellent customer service.

While there are some daunting challenges, like long hours and stressful situations, the pros of being a bartender, such as meeting new people and receiving tips, can make it all worth it.

Bartending School

If you’re considering a career in bartending, you may be wondering if attending bartending school is necessary. Here is what we know:

Is It Necessary?

Attending bartending school is not necessary to become a bartender. Many bartenders learn on the job, and some employers even prefer to train their bartenders themselves.

However, attending bartending school can be beneficial for those who are new to the industry or looking to advance their skills quickly.

What You Learn in Bartending School

Bartending School can teach you the basics of making cocktails, including how to measure and mix ingredients, how to garnish drinks, and how to properly use bar tools.

You may also learn about beer and wine, customer service, and responsible alcohol service. Some schools may even offer courses on bar management and entrepreneurship.

The Cost of Bartending School

The cost of bartending school can vary widely depending on the school and location. On average, a bartending school program can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Some schools may offer financing options or job placement assistance, which can be helpful for those just starting out in the industry.

While attending bartending school can be beneficial, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Here are a few things to consider:


  • You can learn the basics of bartending quickly and efficiently.
  • You may have an advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs.
  • You can network with other students and instructors in the industry.


  • The cost of bartending school can be expensive.
  • You may still need to gain on-the-job experience to become a skilled bartender.
  • Some employers may not value a bartending school certificate as highly as real-world experience.

Ultimately, the decision to attend bartending school is up to you. If you’re willing to invest the time and money, it can be a great way to jumpstart your bartending career.

However, if you prefer to learn on the job or are looking to save money, it may not be necessary.

Bartending Tips and Tricks

As bartenders, we know that the job can be hard, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.

Here are some tips and tricks we have picked up along the way to help maximize tips, learn from other bartenders, and create a signature cocktail.

Maximizing Tips

One of the biggest challenges of bartending is maximizing tips. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Smile: A smile can go a long way in making customers feel welcome and appreciated.
  • Learn customers’ names: Addressing customers by name can make them feel valued and more likely to tip well.
  • Be efficient: Customers appreciate fast service, so try to be as efficient as possible without sacrificing quality.
  • Know your drinks: Knowing your drinks inside and out can help you make recommendations and upsell, which can lead to bigger tips.
  • Keep the bar clean: A clean bar can make customers feel more comfortable and more likely to stick around and order more drinks.

Learning from Other Bartenders

One of the best ways to improve as a bartender is to learn from other bartenders. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Attend bartending school: Bartending school can teach you the basics of bartending and give you a chance to practice your skills.
  • Work with experienced bartenders: Working with experienced bartenders can give you a chance to learn from their expertise and pick up new skills.
  • Attend industry events: Industry events like trade shows and conferences can give you a chance to network with other bartenders and learn about new trends and techniques.

Creating a Signature Cocktail

Creating a signature cocktail can set you apart from other bartenders and give customers a reason to come back. Here are some tips for creating a signature cocktail:

  • Start with a base spirit: Choose a base spirit that you enjoy working with and that pairs well with other flavors.
  • Experiment with flavors: Try different flavor combinations and don’t be afraid to get creative.
  • Keep it simple: A signature cocktail doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a simple, well-executed cocktail can be just as impressive as a complex one.
  • Get feedback: Ask customers for feedback on your signature cocktail and use that feedback to make improvements.

Bartending can be a challenging and daunting job, but with the right tips and tricks, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

From maximizing tips to creating a signature cocktail, there are many ways to improve as a bartender and stand out in a competitive industry.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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