Starting Out

From experience, I can say that bartending is one of the most fun jobs that I have had. I have had the opportunity to work in anywhere from a sports bar , to a tiki bar, to a country club! It is definitely not for everyone- it does require a very outgoing, extrovert personality- but it can be a very rewarding job. To begin the journey of becoming a bartender, you must invest a little money to get the ball rolling. This investment will be for training/certification and to purchase your state license. Costs will very by state. Once you are licensed, you already have a heads up on your job applicant, as some people will apply for bartending positions but will not have licensing. You have provided an incentive by being licensed BEFORE applying for the job! (It seems that it should happen that way anyway... but there are people who think anyone can do it without licensing. You maybe able to, but you won't be legal and could face fines if caught by excise).

Learning the Ropes


After applying for jobs (or before, if you would feel more confident) get more comfortable with the different types of beer, wine, liquors, cordials, mixers, etc. Once you have a base knowledge of the components that go into drinks, and the various types of beer and wine offered it will be easier to help customers choose drinks based on food choices and in general. You will meet a lot of people who will ask for something specific to a palette like sweet or sour.. and give you creative freedom to create something of the sort. Others will ask your opinion on pairings, stronger drinks and less strong drinks. Having a strong knowledge of all of the various components, you can provide quick and excellent suggestions to your patrons! It may seem daunting, but after quite a bit exposure to drinks, recipes, and various alcohols, most of your knowledge of mixology will be memorized.             

Outside of drink making, there are a few more areas of concern when bartending. One being proper attire, and the other being the interpersonal communication between you and the patrons. Attire will always be dependant upon the venue in which you decide to bartend. Some places will have uniforms, other places will have dress codes but leave the decision up to you. I have worked under both requirements. Uniforms are always easy, but when it comes to dress codes- both men AND women need to be aware of how they are perceived when they are dressed a certain way. Obviously a lot of skin may get you more attention, both negative and positive. It is all relative to what you are comfortable in and what you are comfortable dealing with. Less is not more! Most health departments require that shoes be worn in bars, or anywhere that may also serve food. I personally think that underarms should be covered to- but that is just me! Lastly, be aware of your hair as well, no one wants hair in their drink or food!

As far as interpersonal communication between you and patrons, alcohol can change things quite a bit. Someone may be completely reasonable while sober- but once they have a few drinks they are liable to get emotional. I believe it is important to be able to identify these people as the night goes on and make sure that any incidents to not escalate, but rather you learn the best way to diffuse those incidents. You can ask experienced bartenders for tips on that; everyone has different methods, and as long as it works- use it! You also have to understand that you will also come across patrons who come in just to talk, while you may be busy, you will learn ways to still remain relatable to those patrons while getting your job done! It is all trial and error.

Overall, I say have fun! Bartending is a very social experience. You will make copious amounts of new friends and open doors to all kinds of fun opportunities through the interesting people that you will meet. With the right training and intuition- anyone can be a successful bartender.