If you’re thinking about becoming a bartender, there are a few things you should know before taking the plunge. While it can be a fun and rewarding job, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of bartending before getting started. Here are 7 of the most important things to know about this job.
liquor store shelf full of alcohol bottles

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Know Your Liquor

Knowing different types of liquor is an invaluable skill for bartenders. It is important to understand the differences between liquors in order to make the right drink. Certain liquors are best enjoyed straight, some are often served with mixers, and others should be part of a creative cocktail. Some common liquors that everyone should know include vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, and gin.
  • Vodka – a well-known spirit that traditionally hails from Russia.
  • Tequila – a Mexican spirit made from the agave plant, its flavor varies from light and smooth to earthy and herbal depending on the age of the bottle.
  • Whiskey – a famous spirit originating from Scotland that can come in many forms, such as scotch, rye whiskey, or bourbon.
  • Rum – a form of distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and can usually be found in either light or dark varieties.
  • Gin – characterized by a juniper berry flavor.
Knowing these basics will come in handy when receiving drink requests from bar patrons.
head bartender making a cocktail with luxardo maraschino liqueur and Cointreau

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Make Drinks Quickly & Accurately

Bars can quickly become very busy, and customers often have wait to order their drink and wait even longer to receive it. Therefore, no one wants to receive a drink they didn’t order or one that was made slowly or with the wrong ingredients. As a bartender, you’ll need to be able to make drinks quickly and accurately. To do so, practice making different drinks often so the recipes come naturally to you, and try to memorize as many recipes as possible. This will enable you to whip up a customer’s drink in no time!

Long Hours On Your Feet

Be prepared for long hours on your feet. It’s no secret that bartenders work long hours, often standing up the entire shift. If you’re not comfortable with this, it might be worth reconsidering bartending as a job. But if you love people, enjoy making drinks, and don’t mind working long hours, then bartending could be a great fit for you.
Bartender showing Aperol spritz bittersweet drink with orange slice for garnish

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Personality Matters

No matter how well you know your liquor, if you don’t have the right personality for customer service, remaining patient, and working under pressure, then bartending might not be for you. In addition to being outgoing and personable, bartenders must also be able to handle difficult situations with poise and professionalism. It’s important to always keep a level head no matter what situation arises, as this will be key to keeping customers happy and your job secure.

Keep Your Workspace Clean & Organized

It’s important to always keep your workspace clean and organized. Not only will this help you move quickly and make drinks more efficiently, but it’ll also make the bar top a more inviting and safe place for patrons to approach, order their drinks, & converse with those around them.
Bartender pouring a cocktail

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Customer Service Matters For Bartenders

Customer service is paramount in the hospitality industry, especially for bartenders. Bars are typically very social environments where people go to have a good time. Bartenders are the individuals at the forefront of customer interaction. Good drink-making skills are only part of the job. Being able to provide an enjoyable experience for customers goes far beyond what takes place behind the bar.

Communication Skills

A bartender must possess excellent communication skills as well as knowledge of the establishment’s menu. Having this will ensure that any questions guests may have can be quickly answered.


Good bartenders understand how to act professionally, making sure to give every guest respect and understanding, regardless of their demeanor or background.
Bartenders working in a cocktail bar by Taylor Davidson via unsplash

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How To Handle Money & Transactions Behind The Bar

Payment processing is fundamental for any business. As a bartender, you must have a solid understanding of how to process payments and provide change for guests. It is also important to properly handle cash transactions, as this will reduce the risk of theft or other fraudulent activities. Most bars have point-of-sale (POS) systems that can be used for easier transaction processing.
Are you looking to become a bartender? There are several mixology courses online that will help you do just that! These mixology classes will teach you everything you need to know about how to become a bartender and succeed. For more about how to become a mixologist, visit our website.
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About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.