Top Skills for Bartender Jobs

Bartender pouring drinks
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For those who 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 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 Bartenders Do

Bartenders fill drink orders either directly from customers at a bar or through waitstaff who place drink orders for customers. Some of a bartender's job responsibilities include:

  • Greeting customers
  • Taking drink orders from customers and waitstaff
  • Pouring and serving liquor, wine, beer, and other beverages
  • Mixing drinks according to recipes
  • Checking the identification of customers to ensure that they are of legal drinking age
  • Cleaning bars, tables, and work areas
  • Collecting payments from customers and returning change
  • Monitoring the level of intoxication of customers
  • Stocking and maintaining liquor and bar supplies

What are Bartender Skills?

Bartenders are responsible for mixing and serving drinks for customers. Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks correctly and quickly. They typically work at bars, restaurants, hotels, or other liquor-licensed establishments. The earnings of bartenders in the United States typically include a combination of salary and tips from customers.

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

Bartenders are in high demand. Employment of bartenders is projected to grow 32% from 2020 to 2030, due to increased demand for food, drinks, and entertainment. 

Types of Bartender Skills

In addition to being able to mix, pour, and serve drinks, bartenders need a variety of skills in order to successfully perform the job, including communication, customer service, decision making, and interpersonal skills.

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

Interpersonal

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
  • Fun
  • Entertaining Personality
  • Personable
  • Sense of Humor

Composure and Decision Making

Being a bartender can be stressful. Sometimes, you are serving dozens of customers at once. In addition, a bartender must be able to handle intoxicated customers and decide how to handle the situation.

A good bartender maintains all the above qualities—memory, communication, organization, and friendliness—regardless of how much pressure is placed upon them.

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

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

Physical Stamina and Strength

Bartenders need to be able to spend their shift on their feet, walking and standing while preparing drinks and serving customers. They also need to be able to lift and carry heavy cases of liquor, beer, wine, and other bar supplies.

  • Carrying Heavy Objects
  • High Energy
  • Lifting Heavy Objects
  • Physical Stamina
  • Physical Strength

More Bartender Skills

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

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.