What Does a Bartender Do: Job Description and Responsibilities

You’ve probably interacted with a bartender if you’ve ever been to a bar. Behind the bar, serving you drinks and seeing to it that you have a nice time are bartenders. But what exactly does a bartender do?

Professional bartender in white shirt and black apron holding a steel shaker.

A bartender’s primary responsibilities include preparing and serving drinks. In order to do this, you must take orders from clients, prepare drinks in accordance with recipes, and serve them with a smile. However, it goes beyond that.

Additionally, bartenders must be able to interact with patrons, offer advice, and maintain a tidy and organized bar environment. In rare circumstances, they would even be required to perform magic tricks and other forms of “flair” to amuse patrons.

A combination of technical expertise, social grace, and physical stamina are necessary for the vocation of bartending.

You must be able to work fast and effectively while still interacting amicably and positively with clients. Understanding the job’s entire scope and what it includes is crucial if you’re thinking about a career in bartending.

Bartender Job Description

As a bartender, your primary responsibility is to create a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere for customers by mixing and serving drink orders. You will be the first point of contact for customers, and it is your duty to ensure that they have an exceptional experience at the bar.

Responsibilities of a Bartender

Your responsibilities as a bartender include verifying age requirements, knowing alcohol pairing and tastes, knowing how to make traditional and classy drinks, processing payments, managing inventory, and cleaning bar supplies.

You will also handle food orders directly from customers or work with the kitchen staff to ensure that food orders are fulfilled promptly and accurately.

Bartender Duties

Your duties as a bartender include greeting customers, taking drink orders, pouring wine and serving draft or bottled beer and other alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, mixing drinks according to recipes, and checking identification of customers to ensure they are of legal drinking age.

You will also be responsible for cleaning glasses and bar utensils, making suggestions based on customer tastes and preferences, and ensuring that the bar area is clean, stocked, and organized.

Mixed race male expert bartender is serving some tonic for a cocktail at the bar counter while a smiling waiter is holding the cocktail glass

Bartender Responsibilities

As a bartender, you will be responsible for ensuring that customers receive prompt and courteous service. You will need to be able to handle multiple tasks at once, work well under pressure, and have excellent communication skills.

You will need to be able to work in a fast-paced environment, be able to work flexible hours, and have a neat appearance.

Bartender Experience

To be successful as a bartender, you should have previous bartending experience and knowledge of drink recipes and mixing techniques.

You should also have excellent customer service skills, be able to work well in a team, and be able to handle cash and credit card transactions accurately.

Overall, being a bartender is a challenging but rewarding job. If you enjoy working with people, have a passion for mixology, and are looking for a fast-paced and exciting career, then being a bartender may be the perfect job for you.

Mixology and Cocktail Making

Mixology is the art and science of creating mixed drinks, and it is an essential skill for any bartender. Whether you are working in a high-end cocktail bar or a neighborhood pub, knowing how to mix a great drink is crucial to your success.

In this section, we will explore the basics of mixology and cocktail making, including mixing drinks, classic cocktails, signature cocktails, recipes, and garnishes.

Mixing Drinks

Mixing drinks is the foundation of mixology, and it involves combining various ingredients to create a delicious and balanced cocktail. When mixing drinks, it is essential to understand the different types of ingredients, including spirits, mixers, and fruit.

Spirits are the primary alcoholic beverages used in cocktails, while mixers are non-alcoholic ingredients that add flavor, sweetness, or acidity to a drink. Fruit is a popular ingredient in many cocktails, as it adds natural sweetness and flavor.

To mix a great drink, you need to understand the fundamentals of mixing techniques, including shaking, stirring, and muddling.

Shaking is used for drinks that include fruit juice, cream, muddled ingredients, a variety of ingredients of varying density, and/or egg white.

On the other hand, you will stir drinks primarily made of liquor or those poured directly into a glass. Muddling is the process of crushing ingredients, such as herbs or fruit, to release their flavors.

Classic Cocktails

Classic cocktails are timeless drinks that have stood the test of time. They are the foundation of mixology and are an essential part of any bartender’s repertoire.

Some of the most popular classic cocktails include the Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, and Old Fashioned. These cocktails are typically made with a few simple ingredients and are easy to customize to suit individual tastes.

tasty colored classic cocktail served at a bar

Signature Cocktails

Signature cocktails are unique drinks that are created by individual bartenders or bars. They are often inspired by classic cocktails but are customized to include unique ingredients or flavor combinations.

Creating a signature cocktail requires creativity and a deep understanding of mixology. Some of the most popular signature cocktails include the Cosmopolitan, Margarita, and Mai Tai.


Recipes are the foundation of mixology, and every bartender should know how to create a variety of different cocktails. There are thousands of cocktail recipes available, and it can be overwhelming to try and learn them all.

However, by focusing on the most popular cocktails and understanding the fundamentals of mixology, you can quickly become proficient in creating a wide range of drinks.


Garnishes are the finishing touch on a cocktail and can add both flavor and visual appeal. Some popular garnishes include citrus twists, cherries, olives, and herbs.

When choosing a garnish, it is essential to consider the flavors of the cocktail and choose a garnish that complements them.

Mixology and cocktail making are essential skills for any bartender. By understanding the fundamentals of mixing techniques, classic cocktails, signature cocktails, recipes, and garnishes, you can create delicious and balanced drinks that will keep your customers coming back for more.

Customer Service

As a bartender, customer service is a crucial part of your job. You are responsible for providing a positive experience for every customer that walks through the door. Interacting with customers is a key part of your role, and it’s important to approach every interaction with a positive attitude and a willingness to help.

One of the most important aspects of customer service is communication. You need to be able to communicate effectively with customers to understand their needs and preferences.

This means listening carefully to their requests and asking questions to clarify any confusion. It’s also important to be able to communicate clearly and professionally, whether you’re taking orders or making small talk.

man has fun chatting with a bartender at bar counter with a glass of beer in a pub

Another important aspect of customer service is attentiveness. You need to be aware of your customers’ needs at all times, anticipating their requests and responding promptly to their needs.

This means keeping an eye on their drinks and checking in with them regularly to see if they need anything else.

In addition to communication and attentiveness, there are other ways to provide great customer service as a bartender. Here are a few tips:

  • Be friendly and approachable: Greet every customer with a smile and a friendly hello. Make them feel welcome and comfortable.
  • Be knowledgeable: Know your drinks and your menu inside and out. Be able to answer questions and make recommendations.
  • Be efficient: Work quickly and efficiently to minimize wait times and keep customers happy.
  • Be professional: Maintain a professional demeanor at all times, even when dealing with difficult customers.

Remember, as a bartender, you are the face of the establishment. Providing excellent customer service is key to building a loyal customer base and ensuring the success of the business.

As a bartender, one of your primary responsibilities is to serve drinks to your customers. This means that you must be knowledgeable about the bar’s menu and be able to make recommendations to customers based on their preferences. When a customer approaches the bar, greet them with a smile and hand them a menu.

Take the time to explain any unfamiliar drinks or ingredients to the customer. If a customer is unsure of what they want, ask them a few questions to get a sense of their preferences.

For example, if they like sweet drinks, you could recommend a fruity cocktail or a dessert martini. If they prefer something stronger, suggest a whiskey or tequila-based drink.

When making recommendations, be sure to take into account any dietary restrictions or allergies the customer may have. For example, if a customer is allergic to nuts, you should avoid recommending any drinks that contain amaretto or other nut-flavored liqueurs.

If a customer requests a custom drink that is not on the menu, be flexible and accommodating. Ask them what ingredients they would like and try your best to create a drink that meets their specifications.

Boozy Classic Cocktail Assortment with Martini Old Fashioned and Negroni

In addition to making recommendations, you should also be able to take drink orders quickly and accurately. If the bar is busy, try to memorize the most popular drinks so that you can make them quickly without having to refer to the menu.

Overall, being knowledgeable about the bar’s menu and making recommendations is an essential part of a bartender’s job. By providing excellent customer service and making delicious drinks, you can ensure that your customers keep coming back for more.

Bartending Skills

As a bartender, you need to have a diverse range of skills to excel in your job. These skills include communication, accuracy and speed, upselling, and inventory management. Let’s take a closer look at each of these skills.

Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are essential for a bartender. You need to be able to communicate effectively with customers, colleagues, and management. Some key communication skills for bartenders include:

  • Active listening: Paying attention to what customers are saying and responding appropriately.
  • Verbal communication: Using clear and concise language when taking orders and interacting with customers.
  • Non-verbal communication: Using body language and facial expressions to convey information and emotions.
  • Conflict resolution: Resolving customer complaints and conflicts in a professional and calm manner.

Accuracy and Speed

Accuracy and speed are critical skills for bartenders. You need to be able to make drinks quickly and accurately, even during busy periods. Some ways to improve your accuracy and speed include:

  • Memorizing popular drink recipes to reduce the need to refer to recipe books.
  • Practicing pouring techniques to ensure accurate measurements.
  • Keeping your work area clean and organized to reduce clutter and minimize errors.
  • Developing a system for taking and processing orders efficiently.
Beautiful smiling barmaid making a fresh summer cocktail in a shaker


Upselling is the art of persuading customers to purchase additional drinks or food items. As a bartender, you can increase your earnings by mastering the skill of upselling. Some tips for upselling include:

  • Suggesting complementary drinks or food items that pair well with what the customer has already ordered.
  • Offering specials or promotions to entice customers to try new drinks or food items.
  • Using descriptive language to make drinks and food items sound more appealing.
  • Monitoring customer behavior and preferences to anticipate their needs and suggest appropriate upsells.

Inventory Management

Inventory management is the process of tracking and managing stock levels. As a bartender, you need to have a good understanding of inventory management to ensure that you always have the necessary ingredients and supplies on hand.

Some key inventory management skills for bartenders include:

  • Accurately tracking inventory levels and ordering supplies as needed.
  • Properly storing ingredients and supplies to prevent spoilage and waste.
  • Developing a system for rotating stock to ensure that older items are used first.
  • Minimizing waste by using ingredients and supplies efficiently.

Bartending requires a diverse range of skills, including communication, accuracy and speed, upselling, and inventory management.

By mastering these skills, you can provide excellent service to customers, increase your earnings, and advance your career as a bartender.


As a bartender, you will be responsible for serving a variety of beverages to your customers. These drinks can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and it’s important to have a good understanding of the different types of drinks you will be serving.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages are a staple in any bar, and it’s important to have a good understanding of the different types of alcoholic drinks you will be serving. Some of the most popular alcoholic beverages include:

  • Cocktails: Cocktails are mixed drinks that typically contain a combination of liquor, mixers, and garnishes. Some popular cocktails include margaritas, martinis, and daiquiris.
  • Shots: Shots are small servings of liquor that are typically consumed quickly. Some popular shots include tequila shots and whiskey shots.
  • Spirits: Spirits are liquors that are typically consumed straight or on the rocks. Some popular spirits include whiskey, vodka, and gin.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Non-alcoholic beverages are also an important part of any bar, and it’s important to have a good understanding of the different types of non-alcoholic drinks you will be serving. Some popular non-alcoholic beverages include:

  • Soda: Soda is a carbonated beverage that comes in a variety of flavors. Some popular sodas include Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta.
  • Juice: Juice is a non-alcoholic beverage that is made from fruit. Some popular juices include orange juice, apple juice, and cranberry juice.
  • Water: Water is a non-alcoholic beverage that is essential for keeping customers hydrated.


Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage that is made from grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. There are many different types of beer, including:

  • Lager: Lager is a type of beer that is fermented at low temperatures. Some popular lagers include Budweiser and Coors Light.
  • Ale: Ale is a type of beer that is fermented at higher temperatures. Some popular ales include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
  • Stout: Stout is a type of beer that is dark in color and has a strong, rich flavor. Some popular stouts include Guinness and Murphy’s Irish Stout.
Pouring beer into a mug in a beer bar close-up. Beer bottling in the restaurant.


Wine is an alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented grapes. There are many different types of wine, including:

Liquor Families

Liquor families are groups of liquors that share similar characteristics. Some popular liquor families include:

  • Whiskey: Whiskey is a type of liquor that is made from grains such as barley, corn, and rye. Some popular whiskeys include Jack Daniel’s and Jameson.
  • Vodka: Vodka is a type of liquor that is made from grains or potatoes. Some popular vodkas include Absolut and Grey Goose.
  • Rum: Rum is a type of liquor that is made from sugarcane. Some popular rums include Bacardi and Captain Morgan.

As a bartender, it’s important to have a good understanding of the different types of beverages you will be serving. This will help you make recommendations to customers and create delicious drinks that they will love.

Bar Setup and Maintenance

As a bartender, you are responsible for ensuring that the bar is set up and maintained properly. This includes everything from cleaning and sanitizing to managing inventory and processing payments.

Here are some sub-sections to help you understand the different aspects of bar setup and maintenance.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

The cleanliness of the bar is crucial to the success of your business. You should clean and sanitize the bar area regularly to ensure that it is free from dirt, grime, and bacteria. This includes wiping down the bar top, cleaning the sinks, and sanitizing glassware and utensils.

To make sure that you don’t miss any important cleaning tasks, create a cleaning checklist that includes all the necessary tasks. You should also make sure that all cleaning supplies, such as detergent and sanitizing solution, are well-stocked and easily accessible.

bartender cleaning bar counter in evening

Tin and Up

The tin and up area is where you will prepare drinks for your customers. This area should be well-stocked with all the necessary tools and ingredients. You should also make sure that the area is clean and organized.

To keep the tin and up area organized, use dividers or trays to separate different types of tools and ingredients. You should also make sure that all tools are clean and in good condition.

Processing Payments

Processing payments is an essential part of your job as a bartender. You should be familiar with the different payment methods, such as cash, credit card, and mobile payments. You should also be able to handle any issues that may arise during the payment process.

To make the payment process smoother, consider using a point-of-sale (POS) system. This will allow you to process payments quickly and accurately.

Managing Inventory

Managing inventory is crucial to the success of your business. You should keep track of all the ingredients and supplies that you use, as well as their cost. This will help you to identify any areas where you can cut costs and improve your profitability.

To manage your inventory effectively, consider using inventory management software. This will allow you to track your inventory in real-time and make informed decisions about purchasing and pricing.

Back Bar and Service Bar

The back bar and service bar are where you will store and prepare drinks. These areas should be well-organized and stocked with all the necessary ingredients and tools.

To keep the back bar and service bar organized, use shelves or cabinets to separate different types of ingredients and tools. You should also make sure that all tools are clean and in good condition.

Bar setup and maintenance is a crucial part of your job as a bartender. By keeping the bar clean, organized, and well-stocked, you can provide your customers with a great experience and ensure the success of your business.

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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