For those who want to know everything.

Do You Want To Be A Bartender?

8657239_mAre you thinking of becoming a bartender?  Are you good with people? Are you interested in pouring shots for college kids and getting hit on all night? Maybe you would like to making artisan cocktails at a refined restaurant and get hit on all night?

Bartending can make you a lot of money.  It is a ton of fun and the people you work with will be amazing and hilarious.

But, what does bartending really entail?  What are the hours?  How’s the money?  How long are the shifts?  How can you learn how to bartend?

If you want to start bartending, read: Create A Great Bartender Resume

I asked 20 bartenders from around the country 9 questions that you’d want to know.

This is what they said…


1.  How did you learn what  you know about bartending?


  1. I learned most of what I know about spirits and cocktails from reading and studying on my own time. There are a lot of great books available and the internet is a great resource for keeping up with trends that are going on in other places, new products, etc. I was lucky enough to start at a bar that has a huge inventory of spirits so I could study at home and then come in to work and taste all of the things that I had been reading about, which helped to cement a lot of the info. Obviously the most important part of bartending is hospitality, and I think that is a hard skill to teach. It stems from a genuine understanding of and love for the service industry. I think one of the most difficult things for me to learn was how to balance being professional with having my own personality and style. To give excellent service while still being able to crack jokes and make people laugh. I had a few bartenders that I worked with that really helped me become comfortable being on stage, mostly by involving me in whatever banter they were having, including me in their jokes and such and putting me on the spot. Having a culinary background really helped me learn a lot of what I needed to know, like flavor profiles, balancing acid/sweet/salty/bitter, and efficiency of movement.

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2.  What are some basic things that bartenders need to know to be a great bartender?


  1. You have to know the classic recipes and their proportions, that gives you the freedom to make substitutions and start being creative. you have to know how to make balance drinks and what proper dilution tastes like. water is the most important ingredient in a cocktail. you should know the products that you are selling to people and be able to answer questions like where its from, what its history is and what its flavor profile is. you have to have a broad knowledge of current events, music, art, movies, books, sports and whatever else people might like to talk about at a bar, and you have to know how to keep your composure when something goes wrong and you have a bar full of people watching your every move.


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3.  What hours do you work, e.g, shifts per week, from when to when?


  1. I work 5 days a week, tuesday through saturday. Tuesday is my ordering and office day, so i work 10am to 8. the rest of the week I work from around 2-3ish.

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4.  What kind of establishment do you work at, in what state or country? How much money can you expect to make per shift?


  1. I work at a classic cocktail bar where we make all of our mixers from scratch including sodas, bitters, syrups, etc., juice fresh citrus every day, hand carve every piece of ice that we use, and stock over 400 different bottles of liquor. Its in Denver, CO. Our bartenders average about 150-200$ a night. (I’m on Salary). its not the highest paying bar job, so our bartenders are here because they are genuinely into cocktails and they have unlimited freedom when it comes to making drinks.

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5.  What do you absolutely love about bartending?


  1. I love that it combines a lot of the things that I enjoyed about cooking like combining flavors, the fast paced competitiveness, and the gratification of seeing someone really enjoy something that you created with the thrill of being on stage and interacting with people. it has forced me to be more confident and personable and it has introduced me to all kinds of interesting people. its the ultimate networking job.


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6.  What do you absolutely hate about bartending?


  1. Sometimes the hours, sometimes you get guests that are really disrespectful, but those are small gripes. I love my job.

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7.   How many years have you been bartending?


  1. 2
  2. On and off for 6 years.
  3. since 1994…let’s not do that actual math, ok?
  4. 10 years before I jumped on the manager train
  5. 20
  6. 10
  7. 10 total. 2 years as an owner.
  8. 3
  9. 17
  10. 4
  11. 2
  12. 5 years
  13. 10+ years
  14. 11
  15. over 25.
  16. 30+, off and on
  17. 14
  18. 2 years
  19. 10
  20. 22

8.  How much easier would it be for someone to train as a bartender if they had a solid understanding of spirits and knew the classic cocktail recipes?



Some people expounded on their graph answer. Here’s what they said.


1.  It is the only way I would allow someone to train at my bar. It is not optional.

 2.  Some new servers don’t understand the questions that come after the Martini order. I had a server yesterday not understand that Dirty had nothing to do with Up

3.  The problem is that each establishment has their own idea about what constitutes a classic cocktail, so knowing something in advance is almost prohibitive. Sometimes the person with little bar knowledge, but great customer service skills is the best person for the job!

It’s hard to teach the graces and timings of tending bar, I don’t care how much you think you know.



9.   What do you wish you would have known before you started bartending?


  1. I did quite a bit of research, I feel like i was pretty well prepared.

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I would like to thank all of the wonderful bartenders that contributed to this article, thank you!  Thank you Cody, Stuart, Andrew, Donovan, Andrew, Erin, Jamie, Lonnie, Peter, Fran, Amber, Melissa and everyone else!

Sincerely, Jennifer (iamWaitress)

More Helpful Articles.

Cocktail Quiz.  Where is your knowledge today?  Take a quick cocktail quiz and find out.
Create A Great Bartender Resume
Waitress Job Description.  Maybe you should be a server???
Create A Great Server Resume.  Resume templates and ideas.
20 High Impact Interview Questions. What to expect at a restaurant interview.
How To Open A Bottle Of Wine.  According to the Court of Master Sommeliers (the big guns).

Jennifer, iamWaitress on Google+!

  1. Jennifer, I wish I would have been one of the bartenders answering these questions. You are awesome. Your website is awesome too!! Love you!!!

    • Thanks Tiana! Your valuable input is always welcome here! You’ve got the props of a mixologist and the hospitality and gift of gab like a great bartender!

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