Are you someone who pays attention to detail and can work under pressure? If you answered "yes," then bartending may be right for you. Bartenders quickly and accurately prepare alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks for patrons at bars, clubs, hotels, or other drinking establishments. We've created this informative guide to help you understand the different responsibilities bartenders have and how to become a successful barkeeper.

What Does A Bartender Do?

Many individuals believe that a bartender's job is to simply mix and serve drinks that customers order. However, bartenders are also responsible for completing a number of different tasks:

  • Greet customers
  • Process payments
  • Provide guests with menus
  • Order and maintain liquor and bar supplies
  • Replenish, stock, and clean all parts of the bar 
  • Inform patrons about daily or happy hour specials
  • Check customers' identification to confirm they meet the legal drinking agebartender smiling

Requirements To Become A Bartender

"What do I need to become a bartender?" is a question many individuals ask because they want to begin bartending but don't have any experience. In order to become a barkeeper, you need to meet the minimum age requirement. The age requirement in the U.S. differs from state to state but is generally between 18 to 21 years of age. For example, in Florida you need to be 18 years of age to begin bartending and in Mississippi you must be 21 years of age.

Furthermore, there are many states that require you to have a state-issued license or certificate to sell alcohol. Every state has different licensing requirements you must meet. For instance, in New Mexico you cannot sell alcohol without the state's Server Permit and in Washington you must have the Mandatory Alcohol Server (MAST) Permit.

Additionally, there are some states that have the county government make the decision on what documents individuals need to sell alcohol. This causes counties within the same state to have different regulations. For example, in Hawaii, the county of Kauai does not require citizens to have a certificate or license to become a bartender. However, the county of Honolulu requires individuals to complete the server training course and pass the exam in order to obtain the Certificate of Registration. Regardless of where you live, it's important to learn about your state's regulations before applying for bartending jobs.

Find A Job As A Barback

Many establishments won't hire you as a bartender if you don't have experience serving drinks. They typically look for someone that understands how to use bartending equipment, the differences between each drink, how a bar operates, and other necessary bartending skills.

To gain experience in the industry, many individuals start off as barbacks. This position allows you to work closely with barkeepers which makes it the perfect way for you to learn how a bar operates and how to serve drinks. Barbacks are responsible for completing a number of tasks:

  • Clean bars and tables 
  • Prepare juices and mixes
  • Replace kegs and retrieve bottles
  • Stock and organize alcohol, napkins, straws, and glasses
  • Wash and restock glassware, blenders, tools, and other equipmentvariety of cocktails

How Long Does It Take To Become A Bartender?

"How long does it take to become a bartender?" is a question you may be asking yourself because you want to become a barkeeper as quickly as possible. While there isn't a set amount of time it takes to become a barkeeper, there are a few ways you can help speed up the process.

Let Your Manager Know You Want To Bartend

Before you're hired as a barback, you should let the hiring manager know that you're interested in becoming a bartender someday. This lets the manager know that you want to grow within the company and you'll likely be one of the first people they consider when there is a position available.

Ask Questions

You'll be working closely with bartenders which makes it the perfect opportunity to learn about the profession. You can ask barkeepers how they make certain drinks, how they greet customers, how they close a tab, and other necessary bartending skills. By asking questions, your coworkers will know that you're interested in becoming a barkeeper and they may let management know.

Work Hard

You can let management know that you want to bartend and you can ask co-workers questions, but if you don't work hard you likely won't get a promotion. It's important to show that you have a great work ethic and you enjoy what you do. By working hard, you'll show management that you can handle all the responsibilities that come with being a bartender.

Different Types Of Bartending Tools

There are many tools bartenders use throughout their shift to consistently serve the perfect beverage. Understanding the purpose of each tool will help you become an excellent barkeeper. We've created a list to help you learn about the different equipment every bar has:

  • Ice bucket: holds a large amount of ice
  • Juicer/Reamer: extracts juices of citrus fruit
  • Bottle opener: used to open a bottle of beer
  • Wine opener: used to open a bottle of wine
  • Bar towel: clean spills and keep tables clean
  • Blender: to make frozen drinks and mix drinks
  • Mixing glass: used to stir and chill cocktail drinks
  • Cocktail shaker: mixes ingredients to make cocktails
  • Jigger: help you measure and pour drinks with precision
  • Bar spoon: to stir cocktails and measure small amounts of liquid
  • Muddler: mashes or crushes ingredients to release their flavors
  • Ice tongs: used to pickup ice from buckets and put ice into drinks
  • Speed pourer: streamlines the flow of liquid coming out of bottles 
  • Cocktail strainer: after shaking a cocktail, strainers are used to remove ice, leaves, or pulp not intended to be in drinks