Bartending Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A bartender is a professional who works in the food and beverage industry, mixing and serving cocktails to customers. There are many skills and abilities bartenders hold to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for their customers. Some bartenders may develop their skills through training, educational courses and work experience.

In this article, we'll discuss what bartending skills are, review examples of these skills, learn how to improve them and discover how to highlight these skills in the workplace, on your resume and during an interview.

What are bartending skills?

Bartending skills are strengths, abilities and traits bartenders use to perform effectively in their role. Bartenders may already naturally possess some of these skills and can undergo training or educational courses to gain new ones or develop current skills further. They can work in many different settings, like bars, restaurants or hotels, serving drinks to customers and accepting payments. Bartenders typically use a combination of hard and soft skills to mix drinks and provide a satisfying customer experience.

Many different talents, skills and qualities are needed to complete the following bartender tasks:

  • Greeting, assisting and listening to customers as they enter the establishment, ask questions about the drink menu and order cocktails

  • Mixing drinks for customers using the ingredients, measurement tools and glassware

  • Reviewing forms of identification to confirm customers are of legal age to purchase and drink alcoholic beverages

  • Ordering supplies and taking inventory to ensure the bar is fully stocked

  • Following state and federal food and safety guidelines when mixing drinks or serving food

  • Brainstorming and crafting new cocktail recipes

  • Handling payments and transactions via cash or credit cards

Related: Learn About Being a Bartender

Examples of bartending skills

Great bartenders use a strong combination of both hard and soft skills to successfully complete their work duties. Examples of common bartending skills include:

Short- and long-term memory

Since bartenders regularly take multiple drink orders at once, they should have impressive short-term memories to remember which drinks to make and who to serve them to. They can also use long-term memories to recall the names and drink orders of customers who regularly visit the bar. This may impress customers, which could result in great tips and strong customer retention. Bartenders can also use their long-term memories to quickly reference all items on the drink menu and ingredients for popular cocktails.

Related: 15 Techniques To Improve Memory

Listening and interpersonal abilities

Bartenders should hold great listening abilities to ensure they hear and create drink order correctly. Many customers will sit at the bar while they enjoy their drink and may want to engage in conversations with the bartender. Bartenders typically use their listening and interpersonal skills to engage in a polite and friendly conversation with the customer.

Communication and customer service

A bartender will typically spend their entire shift communicating with both customers and employees. They must use a positive, professional and polite tone as they take orders, serve drinks and handle customers' payments. Bartenders use their customer service skills to greet and smile at customers as when entering and thank them for their service when leaving. They'll also use customer service and communication skills to learn the customer's preferences to recommend great drink options.

Organization and cleanliness

Bars and restaurants can often get busy, meaning bartenders must serve multiple customers at once. They should use organization skills to track which customers need drinks, are ready to pay and haven't ordered yet. Bartenders should also keep the bar well-stocked and organized to easily locate the items needed to make drinks, like ingredients, glasses and bottles. More guests will typically visit and order from the bar if they're confident it's neat and orderly.

Adaptability and composure

There are often several distractions, orders and requests happening at once in a bar during its busier hours. Bartenders need to be adaptable to these hectic environments and remain calm as they take orders and mix drinks. Maintaining composure and focus during high-pressure situations can ensure bartenders still provide a positive customer experience and earn great tips.

Related: Adaptability in the Workplace: Benefits and Importance

Time-management and multitasking

Bartenders are constantly moving around and completing multiple tasks at once. They use their time-management and multitasking abilities to prioritize work items and ensure each customer receives their drinks in a timely manner. Knowing how to successfully multitask ensures bartenders remain productive and efficient throughout their entire shift.

Related: 5 Ways To Highlight Multitasking Skills on Your Resume

Free-pouring

This is a technique used to pour alcoholic drinks, ingredients and other liquids into a cocktail without using any measuring devices. It can take time for bartenders to learn this skill, but can lead to quickly-made drinks. Crafting cocktails without measuring devices can be challenging, as mastering free-pouring ensures bartenders include the correct amount of liquid without over-serving or under-serving any drinks.

How to improve your bartending skills

There are several opportunities available for you to develop and enhance your bartending strengths and abilities. Follow these steps to improve your bartending skills:

1. Enroll in bartending school

Most employers don't have any extensive education requirements. Your application may stand out more if you've attended and graduated bartending school. This is an educational program that teaches you the basics of bartending, like speed techniques, profit pouring and fruit cutting techniques. You can take courses for this program either in person or online. Many bartenders who graduate from this program list this on their resume, which can catch the hiring manager's attention or even lead to a higher salary.

2. Receive your bartending license

A bartending license isn't usually required in most states, so earning yours can impress hiring managers. It's also a great way to improve your basic bartending skills and liquor law knowledge. You can typically earn this license by taking a three-hour online course and passing the exam afterward.

3. Earn your bartending certification

To learn more about how to mix and serve certain beverages, you can earn your bartending certification. It can teach you popular drink recipes and garnishing techniques. Feature this on your resume to prove your dedication to enhancing your skills as a bartender. There are several courses available to earn this certification that you can take online.

Related: What Is a Bartender Certification?

4. Take advanced specialty courses

You can improve your mixology skills and move up in the bar and restaurant industry by taking advanced specialty courses. There are several courses available online with subjects that teach you about various spirits and liqueurs, unique cocktail recipes and mixology techniques. You can take most of these courses online to receive advanced certifications that typically don't require a renewal process.

Bartending skills in the workplace

Bartenders usually apply their skills toward creating a friendly and unique atmosphere for customers. Use these tips to help you effectively utilize these bartending skills in a restaurant or bar:

  • Memorize and craft complex drink orders. Customers may order difficult cocktails and expect you to complete them efficiently with no errors. You should use your short- and long-term memory abilities to memorize several drink orders and deliver them to the correct customers in a timely manner.

  • Greet and politely listen to customers. You'll regularly use your listening and communication abilities to welcome customers who enter your establishment and to recommend cocktails. Customers may spend a long time at the bar talking with you, so you should use multitasking skills to speak with them while mixing and serving drinks at the same time.

  • Clean glassware and take regularly inventory of items. Use your organization and cleanliness skills to take inventory of items and to keep all glassware and other restaurant utensils clean and sanitized. Since you'll regularly handle glassware, it's best to have strong dexterity and coordination abilities to avoid dropping or breaking anything.

  • Handle cash and credit card payments. You'll typically be in charge of handling customers' cash or credit cards to complete payments for their drinks. Many bartenders simultaneously run payments, count up change and continue mixing and serving drinks. Use your multitasking skills to successfully manage and separate all tasks to ensure you serve all drinks to the correct people and return all cards to the right owners.

How to highlight your bartending skills

You should effectively highlight your bartending skills in all of your hiring materials. Follow these tips to make your bartending skills stand out to employers in your resume and during your interview:

Bartending skills for resume

List your hard and soft skills throughout various sections of your resume. It can be helpful to review the job description of the role you're applying to. This will give you an idea of the skills, abilities and experience the hiring manager is looking for. Try to match your resume to the job listing by mentioning the same skills featured in the description.

Include a separate skills section that lists all of your hard and soft skills. Highlight some of your skills using bullet points in the experience section to detail how you used these skills to complete your work duties. If possible, include percentages or numbers to give hiring managers a clear idea of the results you brought into the company using these skills.

If you choose to write a cover letter for the role, you can follow a similar strategy by expanding on certain skills you completed in your previous role and detailing the value you provided the company.

Bartending skills for the job interview

Throughout your interview, try to locate opportunities to discuss your skills. Tell stories about when you used your skills to help the bar or restaurant overcome any challenges or when you provided impressive customer service.

You can also mention how your previous bar or restaurant experience has helped you gain valuable skills and demonstrate how you'd provide these skills to the role you're applying for. This allows interviewers to picture you performing these skills when working for their restaurant, bar or hotel. After interviewers understand how well you could potentially perform in their role, they can better determine if you're the ideal candidate for their position.

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