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Barback Duties and Responsibilities

Providing support to bartenders involves a number of different duties. We analyzed many barback job descriptions to compile the following list of barback duties and responsibilities:

Change Kegs as Needed Barbacks need to have a certain amount of physical strength to lift full kegs and carry them from storage. They also have to know how to properly tap a keg.

Clean and Restock Glassware While most places have a dishwasher for kitchenware, glassware from the bar is washed and restocked by the Barback.

Open and Close Tabs Barbacks open and close tabs for customers so bartenders can focus on the customers who are still ordering drinks. This requires basic math and a working knowledge of point of sale software.

Retrieve Drinks for Bartender Barbacks don't have the specialized knowledge of bartenders, but most can make basic drinks when support is needed during busy hours. They also clear out empty bottles and glasses from the lounge area.

Keep Beer Cooler and Liquor Shelf Stocked When the stock of liquor or a certain beer get low, it is the Barback's responsibility to restock the beer cooler and liquor shelf.

Prepare and Restock Garnishes The limes, lemons, oranges, and other garnishes for beers and mixed drinks are prepared by barbacks. This duty requires manual dexterity to safely handle kitchen knives.

Alert Bouncer of Problematic Customers During down times, barbacks provide support to the security team by monitoring the crowd for any signs of unruly behavior. This is an especially important duty at nightclubs and college bars.


Barback Skills and Qualifications

Barbacks have to be strong and have good physical endurance, as they have to lift kegs and be on their feet all day. They also need to be able to switch tasks smoothly and thrive in a fast-paced environment. Here are some specific skills employers look for in barbacks:
  • Manual dexterity - to change kegs, fix drain clogs, and clean glassware
  • Basic mixology - although bartenders make most of the drinks, barbacks need to know how to mix the most common drinks so they can help during busy times
  • Social awareness - to feel the overall " vibe " of a crowd and identify trouble before it happens
  • Teamwork - barbacks and bartenders work as a team and must have good communication to keep the bar running smoothly
  • Prioritization skills - there is no one to tell barbacks what to do when things get busy; they use their prioritization skills to complete tasks based on urgency and importance

Barback Education and Training

Employers do not require barbacks to have any specialized education. All that is required is a high school diploma. Technical knowledge, such as how to tap a keg, is learned through on-the-job-training.

Barback Salary and Outlook

According to the national bureau of labor statistics, demand for bartenders, which includes barbacks, is set to rise two percent through 2026. The national median hourly wage is $10 for barbacks. Those in the top 10 percent make above $19.34, while those in the bottom 10 percent make below $8.32. Like bartenders, barbacks make most of their money from tips.

Barback Resources

Do you want to use a barback position to enter the food and hospitality industry? If so, check out the list of resources below:

National Bartenders Association - The National Bartenders Association is the top professional organization for bartenders and barbacks. It has a community forum that is great for networking, as well as a blog that is regularly updated with articles that cover the latest bartending trends.

The Bartender's Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks and Everything You Need to Know to Set up Your Bar - This book is perfect for both bartenders and barbacks. Not only does it cover virtually any mixed drink one would ever have to make, but it also covers the various aspects of setting up a perfect bar.

Tales of the Cocktail - Tales of the Cocktail is a series of cocktail festivals that are put on around the country. These festivals serve as a blend of industry conference and celebratory event. The blog has excellent features on everything related to the cocktail industry. Its archives are worth a browse for barbacks.

The Art of Mixology - This is a must-read for barbacks who have a true passion for what they do. The author covers the technical aspects of making a cocktail, as well as all of the little things that make a great bartender or barback.

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