A cocktail server is responsible for taking drink orders and delivering those drinks to tables of guests in a dining establishment or other public place that serves alcohol. Some establishments require the cocktail server to clean tables after guests have left as well, preparing the table for new guests just arriving. In casinos — particularly in Las Vegas — a cocktail server will be on her feet for several hours, recording drink orders and serving those drinks to patrons. Servers are traditionally female, though male servers do exist. The cocktail server earns income primarily through tips, though a base hourly wage is also paid to the server.
When taking a drink order, the cocktail server often has to accurately record many orders at once, then convey that order to a bartender. She will then be responsible for garnishing the drinks that require such action, and transporting the drinks to the patrons. In crowded restaurants and bars, this can be extremely difficult, as a full tray of drinks can be heavy and easy to spill. Casinos often only hire a cocktail server if he or she has a significant amount of experience, ensuring they are getting a server who can work quickly without spilling drinks on extremely expensive gambling machines and tables.
Male servers in the past typically did not leave the bar area, but acted solely as bartenders. Restaurants in recent years have begun hiring more male servers, however, and it is not uncommon to see a man acting as a cocktail server in bars and restaurants. Female servers are still more common, and in casinos, they are often required to wear theme outfits that match the aesthetics of the casino. Some restaurants have this requirement as well, though it is much less common, and servers often wear a simple uniform.
Cocktail servers generally make a significant amount of money in tips, depending on the popularity of the establishment and how well the server performs. A steady income is not guaranteed, however, as some nights may be busier than others. A server can expect to spend several hours at a time on her feet, and she will have to move quickly, clean tables, help stock the bar, and often monitor the alcohol consumption of the patrons. A server is often the first person to notice if a patron has been over-served, and the server will then have to notify a manager or bartender to prevent the patron from being served again that night.