Bar Attendant Job Description
A Bar Attendant, also called a Bartender, is someone who mixes and serves alcoholic beverages in a licensed establishment, such as a bar, nightclub, restaurant or hotel. They can also work at special events, such as tastings, festivals and corporate events. Many don’t think of Bar Attendants as needing technical knowledge to do their job, but they must have an intricate knowledge of mixology to do their job well.
Becoming a Bar Attendant does not require any formal education, but there are specialized Bartending schools around the country where one can earn a certificate in “mixology.” The ease of getting a job depends mostly on location. It isn’t very hard to get a job at a suburban dive bar without experience, but most elite bars and nightclubs in metropolitan areas prefer Bar Attendants with experience or formal training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Bar Attendants is set to rise 10 percent through 2024.
Bar Attendant Duties and Responsibilities
Bar Attendants have more duties and responsibilities beyond mixing and serving drinks. We analyzed several Bar Attendant job postings to put together this list of core Bar Attendant responsibilities.
Provide Customer Service
This is one of the main responsibilities of the Bar Attendant. This includes taking food orders for those sitting at the bar and ensuring these orders get communicated to the kitchen staff. When it comes to taking drink orders, a Bar Attendant at a busy establishment must be able to take and prepare multiple orders at a time.
One of the first things a Bar Attendant learns is the industry standard “pour count “ for pouring liquor. Consistent accuracy in this process is important for both customer satisfaction and the bottom line of the establishment. Not only is over-pouring potentially dangerous (due to customer intoxication), it costs a bar in lost revenue.
A Bar Attendant is often the last line of defense in preventing an excessively drunk patron from pushing themselves past their limit. They must have the social perceptiveness to see when a patron is too drunk, and must take the appropriate actions to ensure their safety.
Maintain a Clean Bar
Keeping the bar clean and following health regulations and protocols is crucial. An establishment that serves food and beverages can get fined, and even shut down, for failing to meet health standards.
It is the Bar Attendant’s responsibility to know the frequent sellers and make sure the bar is stocked accordingly. Some bars have a Bar Back to assist with this, and others it is the sole responsibility of the Bar Attendant.
Bar Attendant Skills
Few people appreciate the skill set of a Bar Attendant. It is one of those jobs people think is easy, but it takes a unique blend of soft skills to be a great Bar Attendant. Like servers, Bar Attendants make the lion’s share of their income from tips. This means they have to have top-notch interpersonal skills. There’s an old adage that says a Bar Attendant is part therapist, and there’s some truth to that. A good Bar Attendant is a good listener who provides an ear to their patrons.
The following skills are the ones we came across most often as requirements in our analysis of Bar Attendant job postings.
- Communication skills
- Basic math skills
- Knowledge of mixology
- Conflict resolution
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
- Ability to multitask and switch tasks seamlessly
Bar Attendant Salary
Before we discuss the salary of a Bar Attendant, it must be noted that Bar Attendants make a sizable portion of their income from tips. The amount a Bar Attendant can make from tips is relative to the amount of business generated by their employer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the national median salary for Bar Attendants is $19,500. Those in the top 10 percent make above $38,000, while those in the bottom 10 percent make $17,000. The top three states with the highest median salary for Bar Attendants are Hawaii at $30,700; Alaska at $27,700; and Virginia at $26,700.
Bar Attendant Tools of the Trade
Here’s a rundown of the most common tools that bar Attendants use during the course of a shift.
Point of Sale Software – Bar Attendants must master their employer’s point of sale system, as they have to use it to accurately process every drink they make.
Carbonated Beverage Dispensers – Bar Attendants must be able to operate the soda machines as well as the draft taps. This includes knowing how to pour a draft beverage with minimal foam.
Strainers and Cutlery – Bar Attendants use several different types of strainers and knives to prepare all of the different drinks and garnishes that go along with them.
Bar Attendant Resources
Are you intrigued by the career path of Bar Attendant? If so, then continue your exploration through the list of resources below.
BarsandBartending.com – Bars and Bartending is a blog that covers many topics related to working at or owning a bar. It has Bar Attendant tips, drink guides and Bar Attendant specialty tricks.
BartenderJourney.net – This blog, ran by Brian Weber, is another excellent resource for Bar Attendants. It has mixology videos, PDF guides and blog posts regarding the world of Bartending. It also accompanies a podcast by the same name.
ABarAbove.com - A Bar Above is one of the most extensive resource for mixology. This is a great place for aspiring and beginning Bar Attendants to learn a wide variety of drinks.
Webtender.com - This website has been around since 1995, which makes it one of the oldest Bar Attendant resources on the web. One of the most useful features is the “ In my Bar” feature. Users just type in what they have in their fridge and it determines all the possible drinks one could make with those ingredients.
SuccessfulBarSecrets.com – This website is chock full of helpful articles on many aspects of being a Bar Attendant. This is a perfect resource for Bar Attendants looking to learn the trade quickly.
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