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Bartender: Reviews & Advice

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How to Get a Job as a Bartender

You can’t just decide to become a bartender one day and find yourself mixing martinis the next. There are some technical hurdles, such as being at least 18 years of age, or even 25 for some establishments, for one. And depending on where you’re hoping to work, you could face tough competition. “Living in a city like New York where the bars are respected and written about, you’re going to have to make a name for yourself as a bartender [to better your chances]. People need to care about what you’re doing and write about the cocktails you make,” Reiner says. Also sign up for Ardent Spirits, an email newsletter that Reiner says the most prominent bartenders regularly read and use to advertise job openings.

When you do get your break, it could be to work as a barback, or bartender’s assistant. Reiner says she likes to have new hires work in this position for at least a year. “That’s the easiest transition, because then they’ll learn about our process, and about the different syrups and ingredients they’ll work with later.”

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor High
Flexibility fair Average

What is the Job Like?

It’s hectic enough being the bar-goer who is jockeying for a position at a crowded bar and waiting for a drink – now imagine being the person behind the counter doing the pouring. “Adrenaline kicks in when you’re slammed,” Reiner says. “The best bartenders know how to multitask. Is it more important to give the guest a check or to talk to the waitress? Knowing which one of these things should happen first is a skill set and some people are better at it than others.”

Workweeks will probably include weekends and holidays, since those are busy times in bars. A workday begins well before happy hour and includes setup and cleanup, plus replenishing supplies to keep the bar running. Bartenders who own establishments also have the demands of business ownership to handle. Nearly half of bartenders worked part time in 2012, and the average shift could be nine or 10 hours – or longer. “New York City is home to the 12-hour shift, because the bars here close at 4,” Reiner says.

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Last updated by Jada A. Graves.

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