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What Does a Bartender Do?

Bartenders might make fancy drinks with umbrellas at some nightclubs.
Bartenders make drinks for customers.
Nightclubs may employ bartenders.
Article Details
  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Depending on the nature of the employment, a bartender could have a number of different responsibilities, none the least of which is preparing and serving alcoholic beverages. A bartender may have to resupply the bar by taking an inventory and ordering an appropriate level of spirits, beers and mixers. If there is no wait staff, a bartender may also have to prepare drink garnishes such as fruit wedges or skewers. Bartenders working alone may also have to stock paper goods such as napkins, straws and novelty drink umbrellas.

If a bartender is part of a staff, then others may be assigned to perform the basic garnish preparations and other stocking duties. A food and beverage manager may be responsible for inventory control and ordering, which leaves the bartender free to concentrate on creating mixed drinks, filling drink orders and interacting with his or her customers. A bartender is often seen as the "face" of the establishment, so he or she is often expected to set the general mood and energy level of the room.

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During an average shift, a bartender will generally spend his or her time shuttling between the service bar where wait staff receive drink orders and the general bar area where patrons may order drinks individually. A bartender may have to charge the customer for each drink ordered, or he may decide to start an open account called a tab, which the customer should pay off at the end of the evening. During a shift, a bartender may have a number of running tabs and individual orders to keep track of, in addition to his or her regular beverage serving duties.

A licensed bartender also has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the establishment's patrons, which generally means recognizing when a customer has become intoxicated. Bartenders can be held liable for the actions of inebriated patrons, so they will often stop serving customers who exhibit signs of impaired judgement. A bartender may call for a taxi to drive an inebriated patron home, or leave the person in the custody of a non-drinking designated driver. One of a licensed bartender's most important responsibilities is knowing when to stop serving his or her customers and enforcing that decision without exception.

After a shift is over, a bartender may be asked to perform general clean-up duties such as washing glasses, emptying trash, restocking coolers and wiping down serving areas. Many bartenders receive a small hourly wage supplemented by tips, so they will often spend most of their shift moving quickly from customer to customer in order to fill more orders. The job of bar tending can be very physically demanding if hired to work in a popular nightclub or restaurant, but can also be very interesting if the gig is a private wedding or class reunion. A freelance bartender is often prepared to work alone or as part of a full wait staff.

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Discuss this Article

anon275383
Post 6

Bartenders get bad pay.

anon172453
Post 4

a bartender needs to have completed their RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and have also completed certificate III in hospitality.

cedwards
Post 3

The best education a bartender can have is experience. It can be a bit tricky, however, considering some bar owners won't hire you without experience. Other bar owners, on the other hand, won't hire people that have worked at other bars; they prefer to train them their own way. It all depends on the bar and the owner.

anon20397
Post 1

What type of education does a bartender need to have?

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