As a bartender, your main task is to take orders from customers either directly or through the waiters, prepare them and serve them. You are knowledgeable about wine, draft beer, bottled beer, cocktails, vodkas and other drinks and beverages. These include drink recipes that you or the establishment you work for may have concocted. It is also part of your responsibility to ensure that you are only serving alcoholic beverages to customers who have already reached the legal drinking age.
In some restaurants, bartending is not only serving customers but entertaining them as well. Through the use of cocktail shakers and other accessories, you will showcase your bartending skills as you juggle them and mix the contents expertly before pouring them into their different glasses. The quality of a drinking establishment is often judged by the expertise of the bartender not only in preparing the best drinks but in ensuring that patrons have a good time. Thus, it is often your presence that dictates the energy level of the place you are running.
Mixing drinks and serving them to customers are just two of your tasks. You are also expected to man the cash register and receive payments from customers. Depending on the policy of your establishment, you may opt to collect payment for each drink ordered or you may choose to start tabs with them which they must settle before they leave the bar.
You have to be comfortable working with different types of equipment to be able to do your job well. Some of these include carbonated beverage dispensers, ice shavers and mist and trigger sprayers. If you are working in an exceptionally busy drinking establishment, the work may be made easier by equipment that does all the job of measuring, pouring and mixing the beverages with just a single push of a button. However, this does not mean that you can relax because you will have to fill in a lot of orders. In addition, you still need to know how to do the job manually as there will be requests for special drinks from your customers.
You are responsible for ensuring that all bar stock, including ice, bar supplies and drink garnishes, are complete before the bar opens. This requires maintaining an inventory. You also need to see to it that all equipment is functioning well and that your work area is clean before you open for business.
To succeed in this profession, you must know how to interact well with your customers and develop excellent working relationships with the other members of the staff. You need to know how to give the best customer service to your customers so that they keep on coming back to your establishment. You should also make sure that you are physically strong and able to withstand the rigors of being on your feet for long periods of time.
You should know when to stop serving alcohol to customers who are already intoxicated. You may even need to call a taxi to drive the person home if the customer does not have a non-drinking companion to do so.
Why Become A Bartender
One reason to become a bartender is that it makes for a good part-time job. In fact, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that nearly half of the bartenders employed in 2012 worked part-time. Thus, students and other individuals who may be busy earning their degrees or working in the mornings may work as bartenders in the evenings to augment their income. Individuals who are entrepreneurial will find that working as a bartender provides good training when they open their own bars or catering ventures someday. It gives them a good idea of how the business operates.
Bartender Work Environment
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2012, around 43 percent of bartenders worked in restaurants and other eating places while 29 percent were employed in drinking places or those that served alcoholic beverages. Some of them were also employed with civic and social organizations, traveler accommodation and other amusement and recreation industries.
Bartenders typically work late in the evenings until the wee hours of the morning. Moreover, working on weekends and holidays is common as these are times when customers usually flock to bars. The task can be physically demanding although they are often repetitive. They have to constantly be observant of the customers they serve, always ensuring that they don’t serve to minors and that they stop giving drinks to clients who show signs of impaired judgment.
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the mean annual wage of bartenders was $21,770 which translates to a mean hourly wage of $10.46. In addition to their wages, bartenders also earn through tips given by customers. The larger and more upscale the establishment is, the higher the tips received. Bartenders who work part-time are naturally paid by the hour but some earn more than others because their states have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage which is the amount paid to some bartenders.
Bartender Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that for the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022 the employment of bartenders is expected to rise 12 percent. This is about as fast as the average for all job types. The increased population will be the primary driver for the demand of more bartenders as new bars, clubs and restaurants will open for business to cater to this need. In addition, there will be continuous need for bartenders as many often find other opportunities and leave the job. The best job opportunities will go to those who have received training in bartending and have previous work experience.
There is no formal education needed in order to enter the profession although there are bartending classes offered at technical or vocational schools lasting a few weeks on the average. After training, some schools help place their students in various drinking establishments.
The majority of bartenders simply get their training on the job from a seasoned bartender. Some employers supplement on-the-job exposure with self-study or online programs, instructional manuals and audiovisual presentations that endeavor to teach new hires about the company and encourage teamwork and cooperation among all workers.