Top Skills for Bartender Jobs

Bartender pouring drinks
•••  JGI/Tom Grill /Getty Images

For those that enjoy waiting tables and want to take their career to the next level, you might enjoy bartending. Bartending can be rigorous, but it can also be one of the more fun careers available in the food service industry.

Many great bartenders go on to manage restaurants, clubs, casinos, hotels, and more. Check out this list of bartending skills and keywords to help you in your job search.

What are Bartender Skills?

Bartenders are responsible for mixing and serving drinks for customers. They typically work at bars, restaurants, or other liquor-licensed establishments. Bartenders in the United States typically rely on tips for the majority of their income.

For those the like to travel or work in high-tourism areas, bartenders are in serious, high demand.

While some top-paid bartenders graduate from bartending school, most learn on the job or by shadowing an experienced bartender.

Types of Bartender Skills

Memory

Bartenders need to have good short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory is very important for remembering and keeping track of each customer’s order. 

Long-term memory helps you remember the names of regular customers and even their favorite drinks. Customers appreciate a bartender who listens and remembers their orders. Additionally, your long-term memory will help you remember the beers available (on tap and in the bottle) and special recipes for mixed drinks. 

  • Accuracy
  • Attention to Detail
  • Basic Math
  • Dependability
  • Detail Oriented
  • Monitoring Alcohol Consumption

Communication

Communication is critical for bartenders. You have to speak with customers throughout your shift, and you will need to do so loudly and clearly while also maintaining a pleasant tone. 

More importantly, being a good communicator means being a good listener. You need to listen carefully to your customers’ orders. Often, bartenders will chat a bit with customers to create a friendly atmosphere. Make sure you are actually listening to what each customer says – that is what makes a good bartender great.

Organization

Bartenders are often busy running the bar and serving multiple customers. A good bartender keeps close track of who ordered what, who paid, and who is still waiting for a drink. Being organized allows a bartender to juggle these multiple tasks. Bartenders should also keep the bar clean and organized – this not only looks better to the customer but also allows the bartender to work more efficiently. Finally, bartenders need to ensure that the bar is stocked by restocking items (like bottles of alcohol, ice, fruit for garnish, etc.) as they run low.

  • Bus Tables
  • Cleaning Bar Equipment
  • Handling Glassware
  • Inventory Management
  • Multitasking

Friendly

A good bartender greets every customer with a hello and a smile, even if he or she cannot serve the customer right away. Being kind and professional, even towards frustrated customers, is vital. A good bartender can read people, size customers up, and know if those customers want to make conversation or simply order a beverage.

  • Building Rapport
  • Customer Service
  • Energetic
  • Engaging
  • Entertaining Personality
  • Sense of Humor

Composure

Being a bartender can be stressful. Sometimes, you are serving dozens of customers at once. A good bartender maintains all the above qualities – memory, communication, organization, and friendliness – regardless of how much pressure being placed upon them.

  • Adaptability
  • Bearing
  • Stress Management
  • Dexterity
  • Patience
  • Professional Appearance
  • Problem Sensitivity

More Bartender Skills

  • Accommodating Diverse Clientele
  • Alcoholic and Non-Alcohol Drinks
  • Assertiveness
  • Waiter/Waitress Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Reception
  • Guest Services
  • Hospitality
  • Integrity
  • Mixology
  • Point of Sales Systems
  • Reconciling Cash Drawers
  • Sales
  • Physical Stamina
  • Taking Orders
  • Teamwork
  • TIPS (Training for Alcohol Intervention Procedures)
  • Working Quickly
  • Tourism Knowledge
  • Checking Identification
  • Critical Thinking
  • Initiative
  • Information Ordering
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Efficiency
  • Sensitivity to Food Allergies/Intolerance

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: You can use these skill words in your resume. In the description of your work history, you will want to use some of these keywords.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: In your cover letter, you can mention one or two of these skills and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated those skills at work.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: You can use these skill words in your interview. Make sure you have at least one example of a time you demonstrated each of the top skills.

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Bartender

  2. U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)