How to Hire a Bartender

Does your growing business need a bartender? A talented bartender provides stellar customer service, easily recalls drink recipes and works efficiently in high pressure environments. Growing your customer base will come easy to a friendly and personable bartender who knows how to connect with others, serve quality cocktails and stay attentive to customer needs.

Understanding the steps behind hiring a bartender, including data about candidates looking for bartender jobs, salaries and key terms to include in your bartender job description, can help you stand out from the competition to reach and attract the most qualified candidates.

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Bartenders searching for jobs on Indeed*

534,962

job seekers clicked on bartending jobs

437,065

resumes from job seekers with bartender experience on Indeed

27,989

bartending jobs received clicks

What is the cost of hiring?

  • Common salary in US: $11.55 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $7.25$29.30 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – July 2020

As of July 2020, bartender jobs in the US are very competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 19 job seekers per bartender job.

Why hire a bartender?

Hiring a bartender who takes pride in their work and has a positive attitude can help your business quickly realize increased revenue and repeat customers, as well as promote team camaraderie. A passionate bartender may even view bartending as an art form, always striving to perfect cocktail recipes and create engaging customer experiences alongside a willingness to continually learn and improve.

Contributions of a great bartender:

  • Provide exceptional service and anticipate customer needs
  • Develop methods and systems to improve workflow efficiencies
  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of beer, wine and spirits
  • Memorize and prepare non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks according to company standards, recipes and policies
  • Pour beer and wine accurately and to specific portions
  • Accurately complete cash and credit transactions, maintaining accountability for any discrepancies
  • Understand and enforce beverage laws, including verifying the age of all guests and controlling the pace of alcohol consumption
  • Track and maintain bar stock and inventory
  • Adhere to company guidelines and food and beverage regulations
  • Deal with difficult customers in a polite yet firm manner
  • Available to work a variety of hours, days and shifts, including nights and weekends

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance bartender

Before writing a bartender job description or interviewing candidates, it’s important to decide if you need a full-time or freelance, part-time or contract bartender (and what your budget will allow).

Freelance or contract bartenders are a good option if you’re hiring a bartender for a special event, such as a wedding, private party or corporate event. You can also hire freelance bartenders if you run a business that requires bartenders on an as-needed basis, such as a wedding planning business, catering company or banquet hall.

Full-time bartenders, on the other hand, may be a better option if you run a busy restaurant or bar that requires someone to serve drinks on a daily basis.

What are the types of bartenders?

When hiring a bartender, it’s important to understand the specific kind of bartender you need for your business. Here are some of the most common types of bartenders to help you find one that meets your needs:

  • Banquet server: Member of the waitstaff who serves food and drinks for catered events at hotels, country clubs, wedding venues and other large events. Duties may include pouring champagne, replenishing buffet food and taking food and drink orders to tables.
  • Bar manager: Oversees the staff, budget and operations of a bar. Common duties include hiring and training bartenders and barbacks, managing inventory and resources and negotiating supplier contracts.
  • Barback: Serves as a bartender’s assistant, stocking the bar with appropriate items, running drinks to tables, preparing drink mixes and performing daily cleaning duties.
  • Server: Takes food and drink orders, makes menu recommendations and delivers orders to tables while promoting a welcoming environment for every guest. Commonly works in restaurants and bars.

Where to find bartenders

To find the right bartender for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Hire from within. Are any of your barbacks or servers ready to move into a bartender role? Evaluate your current staff to see if anyone qualifies and would be interested in your open role.
  • Post a sign in your window. A help wanted ad in your business’s window can let your customers and other people walking by your establishment know that you’re hiring.
  • Ask members of the bartending community. Talk to your suppliers, connections in the bartending industry and other bartenders to see if they know anyone who might be a great fit.
  • Network. Consider joining your local chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) and attending industry events in your area to speak directly with bartenders who may be interested in joining your company.
  • Post your job online. Try posting your bartender job on Indeed to find and attract qualified bartender candidates.

Skills to look for in a great bartender

It’s important to find a dedicated bartender who maintains your company’s reputation and shares your vision of providing first-class customer service. Identifying key qualities in job candidates helps ensure you hire a capable bartender you can trust. A great bartender candidate will have the following attributes and work experience that reflect these top bartending skills and qualifications:

  • License to serve alcohol (if required by state law)
  • Familiarity with point of sale (POS) systems
  • Mixology knowledge
  • Inventory management experience
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability
  • Friendly disposition
  • Ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment
  • Sales skills
  • Passion for engaging with guests
  • Ability to maintain a positive attitude

Writing a bartender job description

To hire a bartender that is qualified for your open role, it’s important to write a thoughtful job description. A bartender job description includes a compelling summary of the role, detailed list of duties and responsibilities, and the required and preferred skills for the position. You may also want to include details about the physical demands of the role (e.g., ability to stand for long periods of time), as well as what availability is required.

To improve the visibility of your bartender job description, consider including keywords that job seekers are using to search for bartender jobs. Here are some of the most popular search terms leading to clicks on bartender jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Bartender
  • Server
  • Restaurant
  • Waitress
  • Bar
  • Server bartender
  • Server restaurant
  • Bar back
  • Hiring immediately
  • Bartending

Interviewing bartender candidates

After reviewing the resumes of your top bartender candidates, bring them in for an interview and ask detailed questions to further understand their qualifications, accomplishments and aspirations. Strong candidates for bartender positions will be confident when answering a variety of questions related to bartending responsibilities, including:

  • Cocktail recipes and drink ratios
  • Opening and closing duties
  • Customer interaction experience
  • Collaboration with team members
  • Staying focused while working quickly and managing multiple tasks
  • Handling conflict in high pressure environments
  • Standing during long shifts

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of bartender interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a bartender

How many bartenders do I need?

If you’re hiring bartenders for a special event, such as a wedding reception, banquet or corporate event, aim for one bartender for every 50-75 guests.

If you’re staffing up a bar or restaurant with full-time bartenders, a good rule of thumb is 50 or fewer guests per bartender with one barback for every four to six bartenders. This may take some trial and error, however, as you schedule shifts and find out what works best for your business, bartenders and customers.

What is an insured bartender?

An insured bartender is a freelance or private bartender who has liquor liability coverage. This kind of insurance can protect freelance bartenders from lawsuits if a customer becomes intoxicated and has an accident.

Bartenders who are employed by businesses typically don’t need to buy their own bartender insurance, since bars and restaurants often have general liability insurance or their own liquor liability insurance policy that covers employees.

What states require a bartending license?

Laws for bartending licenses vary from state to state. Some states require that all working bartenders have a bartending certification, permit or license. In other states, there are no official regulations that require bartenders to have licenses, but you may still choose to require bartenders to complete special courses or training. Bartender license requirements can even vary based on county and city.

Here are a few states that require a bartending license as of September 2020:

  • Louisiana: Requires Responsible Vendor (RV) training within 45 days of being hired
  • New Mexico: Requires Alcohol Server Permit
  • Oregon: Requires Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) Permit
  • Pennsylvania: Requires Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training within six months of being hired
  • Tennessee: Requires On-Premise Permit (Server Permit)
  • Washington: Requires Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST)
  • Wisconsin: Requires Wisconsin Bartender Licensing Certification
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