Bar management takes a lot of hard work and many dedicated employees. One of the most important being the bartender.
Bartenders are responsible for a wide range of tasks that keep a bar running and the drinks flowing. They may be prepping the bar, serving customers, directing a barback or servers, and more. Knowing what's expected of a bartender is the key to success.
Read on to learn what a bartending role entails, the skills needed, and what additional tasks may be asked of you.
Bartender Job Description
On the most basic level, a bartender is responsible for crafting cocktails, pouring alcohol, pouring beer, pouring wine, and serving customers. However, in reality, the role is often far more complex and can even overlap with bar manager duties.
Many businesses will also want their bartender to have a bartending license, sommelier certification, cicerone certification, or other pertinent certification. These are the types of things that all bartenders should have listed out in their bartender resume.
The most successful bartenders do far more than just mix and serve drinks. They are both the face of the bar and the driving force behind bar profitability. They may even be expected to help increase restaurant sales or reduce restaurant costs. Duties will grow over time and each restaurant or bar will be unique, however, there are a few tasks that you can expect all bartenders to do.
These are the most common bartender duties:
One of the most vital duties a bartender has is ensuring the bar adheres to state and federal laws when serving alcohol. If a bartender isn't paying attention or neglects to check ID, they can end up serving a minor and cause the entire business to face the liquor licensing board or even be arrested. Bartenders need to take this responsibility seriously, or they will not be a bartender for very long.
Crafting Cocktail Menus
Depending on what market you're located in, you may be expected to perform seasonal menu engineering. You may need to come up with separate menu ideas for spring cocktails, summer cocktails, fall cocktails, winter cocktails, and more. Stay on top of trends and read some of the best bartending books for more ideas and you can keep your bar profitable throughout the year. You can also create a bartender cheat sheet to help you remember all the recipes you've added to the menu.
Serving Customers and Processing Payments
If a bartender does know how to take and process payments accurately, they can quickly cause the bar to go in the red. Bygone are the days of manually calculating costs and change for customers. Bartenders need to know how to use the bar POS system and all other restaurant tech quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, they need to do it with zero or very few mistakes. Take the time to create a comprehensive bar training guide, so all team members can handle the equipment and process payments with ease. This will save a lot of money over time.
Selling a draft beer or well drink is good. Knowing how to upsell that to a top-shelf liquor is even better. A good bartender can build rapport with customers and help give them that extra push to buy happy hour drinks with a higher bar profit margin without coming off as rude or pushy. Developing top-tier sales skills and establishing a friendly atmosphere are key to increasing bar sales and making more tips.
Cleaning the Bar
A dirty bar will drive customers away and can even land a business in legal trouble. Bartenders should show up well in advance of serving time to make sure that all surfaces, glasses, and bartender tools are clean. To ensure this is the case, it's a good idea to create a bar cleaning checklist that the bartenders can use both before and after services. This checklist may also need to include special instructions like how to clean a decanter, so it's worth building a larger guide and then cutting it down over time. Bartenders also need to track restaurant cleaning supplies and ensure new ones are ordered regularly to keep up with cleaning needs.
Taking Alcohol Inventory
One of the most valuable duties a bartender can do is taking a comprehensive inventory. You can take a physical count of inventory twice a month and manually update an inventory spreadsheet. It's how you know what to order, what to stop ordering, and can even help uncover issues with people stealing alcohol. However, the best choice would be to streamline your inventory processes and use a perpetual inventory system or a wine tracker.
BinWise Pro is an automated bar inventory system that can save hundreds of hours a month on inventory counting. It also automatically adjusts your inventory levels in real-time and gives you access to a running stream of historical data. It even comes with a free wine cellar app and inventory scanning app so you can make stocking a bar easier, calculate variance, set par level, and more.
Bartender Job Description Sample
To make it easier to create a bartender job description, here's a sample you can use.
Job Title: Bartender
Salary: $12-$14/hour - commensurate with experience
Tip Income: Yes
Schedule: Part-time (30 hours per week), Wed-Saturday
Role: You will work in a team-oriented, high-volume, fast-paced environment providing a dining experience to guests which distinguishes our bar as being the unquestionable first-choice in town. Demonstrating genuine hospitality and delivering exceptional guest services in the bar area are key.
- Take customer orders in a friendly and timely manner
- Mix drinks using a range of ingredients including alcohol, club soda, bitters, and garnishes (bonus points if you can make your own bitters using a bitters recipe)
- Check identification to verify customer is of legal age
- Collect money and process orders using the POS system
- Comply with all state and local food and beverage regulations
- Clean all bar surfaces to maintain a safe and sanitary environment
- Come up with unique happy hour ideas
- Craft special cocktails for restaurant marketing
- Take bar inventory and place reorders
Additional Requirement: Fall in-line with state guidance on how old to be a bartender
Hold Me Bartenderly
Being a bartender requires juggling a number of tasks all while serving customers with a smile. However, when done well, this will let you pile tips up on top of an already decent bartender salary. Stay focused on honing your craft and showing current and prospective employers that you're the best bartender around and ace that bartender interview.
Oh, and don't include a bartender cover letter when you apply unless asked. This can help avoid overwhelming and annoying the hiring manager.