The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Fifty One

Know how to make cocktails and ready to get behind the bar? Here are some tips for getting a bartending job without any experience.

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In today’s Episode…

Getting a bartending job can feel like a big catch-22. Want the job? Better have experience. Want experience? Good luck! Today we’re discussing some of the ways you can get your “foot in the door” behind a bar, and how you can work your way up.

Getting your Foot in the Door:


While it may not be glamorous, catering is a good start as a bartender. It’s a bit like being “half waiter half bartender” – but it will put bartending on your resume and give you experience making a wide variety of drinks in a setting similar to a bar. The good news is you can make decent money as a catering bartender, and it’s something you can usually do nights and weekends if you’re trying to get started as a student or while working a “day” job.

Become a Barback

Again, this is probably the least “glamorous” position behind the bar, but it is behind the bar! Working as a barback will give you valuable experience learning how bars work, watching bartenders handle the bar and, frankly, showing your team and your manager that you’re willing to work hard. Plus, it’s far less difficult to get a barback position – just walk into a couple of places and let them know you’re willing to do the work.  Unfortunately barbacking will not pay as well as catering, so budget ahead.

Start as a Waiter

This is actually how Chris did it! He walked into a busy restaurant with no experience and told them he was willing to take any position and work hard. They put him in a waiter role and did the job well and proved he was a hard worker – but remained persistent about getting behind the bar! Before too long he was given the chance, and the rest is history!

How to get into Bartending from there:

So you’re working as a waiter or barback – what’s next?

The Key: Service Mentality

I can’t emphasize this enough. Your attitude is the #1 most important thing. I believe anyone can be trained to make great cocktails technically – bartending is a skill like anything else. But you can’t teach a service mentality and a great attitude.

Prove it!

How do you show you have the right attitude?

  • If they do training, ask to be a part of it
  • Offer to help any way you can
  • Show initiative
  • Pay attention and learn
  • Keep a positive attitude

Get that first shift:

Trying to get that first bartending shift? Pay attention and find the shift nobody wants. Volunteer to take the Monday lunch shift or Sunday afternoon. You won’t get a lot of competition and it’ll give you a slow shift to get used to being behind the bar.  From there, make yourself available – tell management you’re happy to pick up shifts to cover other bartenders who are sick or need time off. This shows initiative and – once again – get you behind the bar!

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Thanks for Listening!

Bartenders: How did you get started behind the bar? Did you start as a barback or waiter? Oh, and do you have a pedometer? I’d love to hear how many steps you’re logging on your shifts!!

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