What are the Different Bar Attendant Jobs?

Mandi R. Hall

Bar attendant jobs are generally available at businesses including bars, restaurants, caterers, nightclubs, or other entertainment venues. No matter what sort of bar he works at, a bar attendant, or bartender, tends to bar patrons and their various needs. Serving liquor and nonalcoholic beverages, as well as food if the establishment serves it, are just a few of the bar attendant’s responsibilities. He is also responsible for cleaning duties as well as handling money. Many busy bars delegate different bar responsibilities to a number of bartenders.

Bartenders must know how to mix several types of drinks, including cocktails.
Bartenders must know how to mix several types of drinks, including cocktails.

Bar attendant jobs typically include the task of physically setting up the bar. The bartender sets up the bar before it opens, as well as keeping it maintained throughout his shift. He surveys what bar items need to be stocked such as cocktail napkins, garnishes, glassware, straws, and ice. Some items he may need to stock less often might include a variety of wine, liquor, and draft beer that needs to be refilled.

Bartenders may pour shots for customers.
Bartenders may pour shots for customers.

Bartenders need to ensure the bar’s cleanliness throughout the shift, as well as maintain proper health code standards. Likewise, bartenders need to know a plethora of mixed drink ingredients, as well as how to properly pour shots and portions. Furthermore, bar attendant jobs that take place at a niche bar, such as a wine bar, require him to know a great deal about wine.

A bar attendant may need to carry heavy kegs of beer.
A bar attendant may need to carry heavy kegs of beer.

Additionally, bartenders need to know how to write out bills manually or use the register. Bar attendant jobs also include the responsibility of correctly making change. While part of the responsibility of bar attendant jobs is to be pleasant with the clientele, they also need to be able to squash customer disputes and handle any problems in a courteous manner. Bartenders also need to be firm with people who might have had too much to drink.

Sometimes bar attendants have assistants called barbacks. A barback may only be needed on the busiest nights of the week — Friday, Saturday and other nights that have entertainment or drink specials — and typically does what is deemed “the dirty work.” Such tasks might include carrying heavier items such as kegs or cases of beer, as well as running dirty and clean stacks of dishes and glassware back and forth between the dish tank and the bar.

If the bar, restaurant, or private party is particularly slow or small, only one bartender may be required per shift. For some bar attendant jobs, one bartender will personally deal with the “rail” — that is, the people sitting at the bar — while another bartender may make all of the drinks. While bartenders work primarily on tips, they do make a minimal wage, which varies from state to state and employer to employer. Barbacks also make a minimal wage and earn tips provided by the bartenders at the end of the night.

A bartender will attend to the bar patrons and all of their drink needs.
A bartender will attend to the bar patrons and all of their drink needs.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think that this is the best job either but a lot of people do it because the pay is apparently good. I think people are attracted to the tips. This is actually true for most service jobs. I have several friends who are working at restaurants for the nice pay and tips. They're actually educated but couldn't find work in their fields. Working in service jobs is usually the first option for people in this situation who need to pay their bills.


@ZipLine-- Although I agree with you to some extent, I think it also depends on where one works. Working at bars exclusively I'm sure would present problems from time to time, not to mention how extremely busy and hectic it can be to work there. But restaurants, cafes and hotels hire bar attendants too and work will be less hectic in these areas. I highly doubt that there will be any customers that cause problems at these higher end locales.

Another interesting option for work places could be cruises. Bar service is one of the most popular services of cruises, as well as resorts.


I don't think I would want to be a bar attendant. I think they have a very difficult job. Customers can go quite crazy on weekends, especially since alcohol is involved. I'm sure bar attendants have experienced plenty of awkward and annoying situations. It's definitely not something I could handle or would want to do.

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