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Joshua Weatherwax

Bartender Age: How Old Does A Bartender Need To Be?

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Have you come across a bartender job description that really makes you want the job, but you're under 21? Well, is that the bartender age in your state?

You may still be able to get the job, but it's a bit complicated. The legal age to serve alcohol or work as a bartender vary by state, county, and even town. This means your new bartender cover letter and bartender resume may come in handy.

Read on to learn how old you need to be to serve alcohol, work as a bartender, and a few other tips.

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How Old Do You Have to Be to Serve Alcohol?

In most states, you need to be 18 years old to serve alcohol legally. However, some states will let you serve as young as 18 or as old as 21. That's why it's important that both applicants and businesses look up the laws governing that particular bar or restaurant's situation.

Legal Age to Serve Alcohol

The legal age to serve alcohol varies between 18 and 21 depending on the state and city you live in. In general, each state defines the age required within its borders. 

However, there may be an exception to the rule, so you need to look up your city and county as well if you're interested in bartending. There can also be different requirements based on the type of alcohol being served. For more information, check out this handy chart from the Alcohol Policy Information System.

Legal Age to Serve Alcohol by State

To help clear up any confusion, here's a list of the general legal age to serve alcohol in all 50 states:

State Age
Alabama (AL) 21
Alaska (AK) 21
Arizona (AZ) 19
Arkansas (AR) 18
California (CA) 21
Colorado (CO) 18
Connecticut (CT) 18
Delaware (DE) 21
Florida (FL) 18
Georgia (GA) 18
Hawaii (HI) 18
Idaho (ID) 19
Illinois (IL) 21
Indiana (IN) 21
Iowa (IA) 18
Kansas (KS) 21
Kentucky (KY) 20
Louisiana (LA) 18
Maine (ME) 18
Maryland (MD) 18
Massachusetts (MA) 18
Michigan (MI) 18
Minnesota (MN) 18
Mississippi (MS) 21
Missouri (MO) 18
Montana (MT) 18
Nebraska (NE) 19
Nevada (NV) 21
New Hampshire (NH) 18
New Jersey (NJ) 18
New Mexico (NM) 18
New York (NY) 18
North Carolina (NC) 21
North Dakota (ND) 19
Ohio (OH) 21
Oklahoma (OK) 21
Oregon (OR) 18
Pennsylvania (PA) 18
Rhode Island (RI) 18
South Carolina (SC) 18
South Dakota (SD) 21
Tennessee (TN) 18
Texas (TX) 18
Utah (UT) 21
Vermont (VT) 18
Virginia (VI) 21
Washington (WA) 21
West Virginia (WV) 18
Wisconsin (WI) 18
Wyoming (WY) 21

It's important to note that these rules are established at a state level and can be modified by local governments. Even if the legal age to serve alcohol in your state is 18, your town or city may increase that number. However, they cannot decrease it, so you can't serve alcohol under the age determined by the state.

Can You Serve Alcohol At 18?

Yes, in the majority of states you can serve alcohol at 18! However, city and county ordinances may affect this. For example, in Illinois, you can serve alcohol at 18, but you need to be 21 in the city of Chicago. City websites usually have ordinances listed, so it's a good idea to check that out before wasting your time looking up bartender interview questions.

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How Old To Be A Bartender: Legal Age To Bartend

The legal age to bartend is 18 in 26 states, but this can vary greatly based on different local governments and even licensing requirements. Bartending and serving alcohol are also not necessarily synonymous as some states allow you to serve wine under the age of 21, but not actually serve liquor at a bar.

Do You Have To Be 21 To Be A Bartender?

Possibly, but it depends on what state you live in. There are 17 states that require bartenders to be 21 as well as certain municipalities within states with different rules.

Can You Be A Bartender At 18?

If you live in one of 26 states, you can! However, depending on the state and city you live in you may need to wait between 1 and 3 years. You may also be required to get a bartending license or an alcohol server certification. The restaurant or bar needs to know the requirements, or they risk getting their liquor license pulled.

Can You Bartend Under 21?

Yes, if you live in one of 33 states you can be a bartender at the age of 18 or 19. There are caveats to this, but generally, there is likely a state near you where you can bartend under the age of 21.

The legal age for serving alcohol varies from state to state. Make sure you know the laws of your city and state before applying for a bartending position.

Bartending Licensing Requirements

One final topic that needs to be covered is that of licensing. Most bartenders don't have their bartending license as it is not a requirement to serve alcohol.

However, if you are at or under the stated age, you may be required to take one of these courses depending on your particular state and local government. This information should be listed on their websites, so make sure to check them out before applying for a job.

You can also take these courses on your own in preparation for becoming a bartender or server. It may be worth looking into getting your sommelier certification, cicerone certification, or other pertinent certifications if you plan on building a long-term career in the hospitality industry.

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It's Been Ages

Becoming a bartender can be a very fun and lucrative career option. From a decent bartender salary to generous tips to control over menu engineering. But, you need to be a certain age to get the job, so it's important to know this requirement for your area.

Remember, if you're too young to serve the alcohol, there are other bar staff opportunities as well. You can start your career as a barback to learn valuable skills, how to use bartender tools, and earn tips before moving up into the bartending role. You can even create a bartender cheat sheet to help streamline the bar and set yourself up for the bartending job when you are old enough.

If you do get a bartending job, you should look into getting a wine cellar app or inventory scanning app like BinScan to help save the business money and make you look good!

Frequently Asked Questions About Bartender Age

Bartenders are not just people who make and serve drinks. They are also responsible for the safety of their customers and the overall environment of the bar. 

Because of this, many establishments have age restrictions in place for their bartenders. In some cases, these age restrictions can be quite strict. 

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about bartender age requirements:

What Is the Youngest Age to Be a Bartender?

18 is the youngest age to be a bartender in the USA. Anyone younger than 18 cannot legally serve alcohol in a bar or restaurant.

How Old Are Bartenders Usually?

Bartenders are usually around 33 years old on average. This can vary depending on the establishment they work in and their experience.

Can You Bartend At 18 In Colorado?

You can bartend in Colorado at 18 years old if you are supervised by a licensed bartender who is 21 years of age or older. This supervision must take place during your entire shift, and the licensed bartender must be on the premises where alcohol is served.

Can You Bartend At 18 In NY?

Yes, you can bartend in New York at 18 years old without a license. There is no statewide law in New York that requires bartenders to have a license. However, some counties and cities within the state may have their own regulations regarding licensing, so it's always best to check with your local authorities to be sure.

Is Bartending Hard?

Is bartending hard? It can be, but it doesn't have to be. There are a few things you can do to make sure that you're successful behind the bar.

  • First, learn as much as you can about cocktails such as mint julep and bartending in general. The more you know, the easier it will be to make drinks and keep up with customer orders. There are plenty of resources out there - books, websites, and even bartending classes - so take advantage of them.
  • Second, practice, practice, practice. Making drinks is a skill, and like any skill, it takes time and repetition to perfect. So get behind the bar as often as you can (even if it's just at home) and mix up some winter cocktails. The more you do it, the better you'll get.
  • Finally, be organized and efficient when you're working. This means having a well-stocked bar so you can make drinks quickly, knowing which garnishes go with which drinks, and keeping your workspace clean. If you're organized and efficient, bartending will be a breeze.
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