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Bar Server Duties and Responsibilities

Bar servers are hired by a number of establishments, including hotels and restaurants, but the basic duties and responsibilities are the same everywhere and include the following:

Serve Drinks to Customers Bar servers serve wine, bottled beer, draft beer, mixed drinks, and cocktails to customers.

Mix Drinks and Prepare Cocktails Bartenders do not fill every single drink order; for simple orders such as draft or bottled beer, the bar server will be required to prepare these items themselves.

Take Beverage Orders Bar servers must accurately record all drink orders from guests and servers.

Provide Customer Service Bar servers must respond to customer complaints and find the appropriate person to handle customer problems as they arise.

Check Customer Identification and Monitor Customer Drinking Bar servers are responsible for making sure all persons being served alcohol meet legal age requirements. Bar servers must also determine when customers have had enough to drink and stop serving people who have reached this limit.

Make Menu Recommendations Bar servers advise guests on which menu items to purchase and make recommendations about pairing food with beverages to maximize flavor. This means that bar servers must be very familiar with all drink and food menus in the establishment where they work.

Record Orders and Collect Money Bar servers must keep track of all customer drink orders and make a record of them for the final bill. When this bill is presented, bar servers must collect money from customers.

Cut and Prepare Drink Garnishes Bar servers stock the drink garnish station and replenish supplies throughout the night. Bar servers apply all necessary garnishes to drinks before serving them.

Keep Glasses and Bar Tools Clean Bar servers are responsible for keeping all bar glassware and bar tools clean, and for helping to keep the entire bar area clean and organized.


Bar Server Skills and Qualifications

Bar servers must have strong customer service skills in order to succeed. Employers hiring bar servers will look for people who display the following abilities as well:
  • Positive personality - because bar servers interact with customers regularly, employers want people who have friendly, charming personalities to fill this role
  • Communication skills - bar servers frequently speak to guests and the rest of the staff, which requires good listening and speaking skills
  • Mathematics - bar servers must keep track of all customer orders and charge guests accurately, which requires a basic grasp of mathematics
  • Physical fitness - most establishments require bar servers to be able to lift at least 30 pounds and have the physical capability to move quickly and accurately without clumsiness
  • Salesmanship - bar servers must always try to sell more food and drink products to customers, so employers look for people who have some experience with sales

Bar Server Education and Training

Bar servers do not need any formal education, certification, or licensing. However, employers look for bar servers who have some work experience in bar or restaurant environments. Bar servers must also be familiar with all popular liquor and beer brands and have some knowledge of how to mix and prepare popular cocktails. For legal reasons, bar servers must meet state minimum age requirements, usually 20 or 21 years. Bar servers typically receive one or two weeks of training to help them become familiar with the software used by the establishment and the rest of the staff. This training period also teaches bar servers all the basic practices of the establishment that pertain to cleaning and food and drink preparation.

Bar Server Salary and Outlook

After the job training period is over, bar servers earn around $9.44 per hour with tips, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median pay for food and beverage servers is $19,630 per year. The job growth rate for bar servers is estimated at 14 percent, which is faster than the national average. Bar servers do not receive health insurance benefits, but servers who work at an establishment for more than a year may receive vacation days as a perk of the job. Because this is a service-related job, bar servers can expect to earn tips in addition to their hourly wage.

Helpful Resources

Learn all the tricks of becoming a great bar server with these helpful resources:

National Restaurant Association - You can use this website to find career opportunities in restaurants, read the latest news and research, and find events and group meetings for restaurant professionals.

Grossman's Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits - This book contains recipes and details the history of wines, beers, and spirits.

American Nightlife Association - This association is dedicated to all professionals who work in nightclubs and bars. Visit its website to find information about news, events, jobs, and training.

The Responsible Serving of Alcoholic Beverages: Complete Staff Training Course for Bars, Restaurants and Caterers - Bar servers who want to learn how to responsibly serve alcohol to customers, and when to cut them off in an appropriate and professional way, will appreciate this useful guide.

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