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Head Bartender Duties and Responsibilities

The type of company a head bartender works for will determine the kind of tasks they will be responsible for. Based on job listings we analyzed, a head bartender's duties typically involve:

Make drinks Making drinks and having an extensive knowledge of drink recipes is vital to this role. Head bartenders assist in taking orders and serving customers, particularly during busy shifts, and restocking supplies as needed.

Supervise the bar Head bartenders oversee the running of the bar, making sure that complaints and disturbances are dealt with in a polite manner. They also make sure the bar is clean and tidy at all times, even during busy periods.

Check inventory Inventory needs to be checked regularly and head bartenders are responsible for ordering stock when it is low and supervising deliveries to make sure everything is delivered and unpacked properly.

Administrative duties Head bartenders look after the administrative side of running the bar as well as the customer-focused side, from scheduling shifts and training staff to managing the budget and payroll, which involves some office-based work.

Deal with complaints Complaints or queries from customers are directed to the head bartender to deal with in a professional manner. He or she deals with disturbances within the bar to ensure that all customers enjoy a peaceful environment, as well as resolving issues among staff.


Head Bartender Skills and Qualifications

Strong interpersonal skills and a pleasant demeanor are good qualities for head bartenders to have. Typically, employers require a one-year minimum of bartending experience and some managerial experience, as well as the following:
  • Customer service skills - working with customers is a key part of a head bartender’s position; the ability to remain professional at all times is vital to this role
  • Numerical abilities - head bartenders have administrative duties; a good grasp of numeracy is important to carry out tasks such as budgeting and administering payroll
  • Organization - head bartenders need to be organized to keep track of shifts, customers, deliveries, and the general workings of the bar
  • Physical stamina - working in a bar can be physically demanding, requiring a good level of fitness to endure standing for long periods of time and carrying heavy items such as kegs and cases of alcohol.
  • Leadership skills -motivating a team and ensuring good performance from all members of the staff are key to keeping things running smoothly

Head Bartender Education and Training

No formal qualification is necessary to become a head bartender, although employers typically want a high school diploma and previous experience in a bar or restaurant-based role. Previous management experience is beneficial in this job, as head bartenders supervise a team; a good understanding of business practices such as managing budgets and payroll is advantageous.

Head Bartender Salary and Outlook

The median hourly wage for head bartenders is $10.00. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $8.32 and the highest earn more than $19.34 an hour. There is additional earning potential through tips, which varies depending on the type of establishment. In upscale restaurants and bars, it's not uncommon for bartenders to earn more in tips than their standard wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by two percent through 2026, slower than average for all occupations.

Head Bartender Helpful Resources

We've collected some of the best resources to help you build a successful career as a head bartender:

The Ultimate Bar Book - Featuring more than 1,000 cocktails and drinks recipes, this is an indispensable guide for anyone working in a bar environment. From mixology to knowing which glass is used for which drink, this is an excellent resource for head bartenders in the making.

The Global Bartender Exchange - This LinkedIn group has over 2,600 members and is a great way to network with people in the industry from all over the world. A friendly online community, members of this group also share information on events and competitions.

Bartending Inside-Out: The Guide to Profession, Profit & Fun - This book is about bartending from a business perspective and how to achieve success in this industry. Along with the basics of making drinks and serving, it teaches critical tips and techniques, such as how to deal with intoxicated customers, inspiring a team, and the basics of customer service.

BevSpot - The BevSpot site offers a useful perspective on the management side of bars. The blog is packed with handy tips and articles on how to successfully manage a team, along with profiles of industry experts.

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