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A bartender. Atilla stil ates kokteylleri.jpg
A bartender.

A bartender (also known as a barkeep, barman, barmaid, bar chef, tapster, mixologist, alcohol server, cocktologist, flairman or an alcohol chef) is a person who formulates and serves alcoholic or soft drink beverages behind the bar, usually in a licensed establishment. Bartenders also usually maintain the supplies and inventory for the bar. A bartender can generally mix classic cocktails such as a Cosmopolitan, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Mojito.


Bartenders are also usually responsible for confirming that customers meet the legal drinking age requirements before serving them alcoholic beverages. In certain countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, bartenders are legally required to refuse more alcohol to drunk customers. [1]


Ada Coleman bartending at the Savoy Hotel in London, circa 1920 Ada Coleman small 20110507-1109.jpg
Ada Coleman bartending at the Savoy Hotel in London, circa 1920

Historically, bartending was a profession with a low reputation. It was perceived through the lens of ethical issues and various legal constraints related to the serving of alcohol. [2]

The pioneers of bartending as a serious profession appeared in the 19th century. "Professor" Jerry Thomas established the image of the bartender as a creative professional. Harry Johnson wrote a bartending manual and established the first bar management consulting agency.

At the turn of the 20th century, slightly less than half the bartenders in London were women, such as Ada Coleman. "Barmaids", as they were called, were usually the daughters of tradesmen or mechanics or, occasionally, young women from the "better-born" classes who had been "thrown upon their own resources" and needed an income. [3]

The bartending profession was generally a second occupation, used as transitional work for students to gain customer experience or to save money for university fees. [4] The reason for this is because bartenders in tipping countries such as Canada and the United States, can make significant money from their tips. [5] This view of bartending as a career is changing around the world, however, and bartending has become a profession by choice rather than necessity. It includes specialized education — European Bartender School operates in 25 countries. [2]

Cocktail competitions such as World Class and Bacardi Legacy have recognised talented bartenders in the past decade and these bartenders, and others, spread the love of cocktails and hospitality throughout the world. [6] Kathy Sullivan owner of Sidecar Bartending expressed the difficulties with becoming a prolific bartender, comparing you to the drink you make: “In drinks you want balance. And you have to be balanced physically, emotionally and mentally.” [7]

By country

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, bar work is often not regarded as a long-term profession (unless the bartender is also the landlord), but more often as a second occupation, or transitional work for students to gain customer experience or to save money for university fees. As such, it lacks traditional employment protections and therefore has a high turnover. The high turnover of staff due to low wages and poor employee benefits results in a shortage of skilled bartenders. Whereas a career bartender would know drink recipes, serving techniques, alcohol contents, correct gas mixes and licensing law and would often have cordial relations with regular customers, short-term staff may lack these skills. Some pubs prefer experienced staff, although pub chains tend to accept inexperienced staff and provide training.

Tipping bartenders in the United Kingdom is uncommon, not considered mandatory but is greatly appreciated by the bartender. The appropriate way to tip a bartender in the UK is to say 'have one for yourself', encouraging the bartender to buy themselves a drink with one's money, where a bartender may instead opt to add a modest amount to a bill to take in cash at the end of their shift.

United States

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data on occupations in the United States, including that of bartender, publishes a detailed description of the bartender's typical duties [8] and employment and earning statistics by those so employed, with 55% of a bartender's take-home pay coming in the form of tips. [9] [10] The hourly wage a bartender receives can vary depending on the state. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the laws of most states, allow employers a tip credit, which counts employees tips toward minimum wage. As of January 1, 2019, the federal minimum wage rate is $7.25/hour. [11]

Bartenders in the United States may work in a large variety of bars. These include hotel bars, restaurant bars, sports bars, gay bars, piano bars, and dive bars. [12] [13] Also growing in popularity is the portable bar, which can be moved to different venues and special events.

Bartenders may attend special schools or learn while on the job. [14] Bartenders in the United States usually have on-the-job training, from the owners, management, or other superior staff with experience. Prospective bartenders may gain experience by working as wait staff in a restaurant with a bar. Some vocational schools offer bartenders licenses. Some US states require a bartenders license or a health certificate issued from the state.[ citation needed ]

Most pubs and bars seek to recruit outgoing, personable individuals as bartenders. All bartenders must comply with all food and beverage regulations, in the United States. All bartenders in the United States should be knowledgeable in mixing, garnishing, and serving drinks with a positive attitude and excellent communication skills. The competition for jobs is high in this field of work. [ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Bar Establishment serving alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises

A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the length of the table, just above floor height, for customers to rest a foot on, which gave the table its name. Over many years, heights of bars were lowered, and high stools added, and the brass bar remains today. The name bar became identified with the business, is a retail business establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, liquor, cocktails, and other beverages such as mineral water and soft drinks. Bars often also sell snack foods such as crisps(also referred to as potato chips) or peanuts, for consumption on their premises. Some types of bars, such as pubs, may also serve food from a restaurant menu. The term "bar" also refers to the countertop and area where drinks are served. The term "bar" derives from the metal or wooden bar (barrier) that is often located along the length of the "bar".

Waiting staff person who attends to customers by serving them food and drink

Waiting staff, waitstaff, waiters/waitresses, or servers are those who work at a restaurant or a bar, and sometimes in private homes, attending to customers by supplying them with food and drink as requested. Waiting staff follow rules and guidelines determined by the manager. Waiting staff carry out many different tasks, such as taking orders, food-running, polishing dishes and silverware, helping bus tables, and restocking working stations with needed supplies.

Caesar (cocktail) cocktail created and primarily consumed in Canada

A Caesar is a cocktail created and primarily consumed in Canada. It typically contains vodka, a caesar mix, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime. What distinguishes it from a Bloody Mary is the inclusion of clam broth. The cocktail may also be contrasted with the Michelada, which has similar flavouring ingredients but uses beer instead of vodka.

Angostura bitters Concentrated bitters made of water, alcohol, herbs and spices

Angostura bitters is a concentrated bitters based on gentian, herbs, and spices, by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. It is typically used for flavouring beverages or, less often, food. The bitters were first produced in the town of Angostura, hence the name, but do not contain angostura bark. The bottle is recognisable by its distinctive over-sized label. Angostura is Spanish for narrowing, the town of Angostura having been located at the first narrowing of the Orinoco River.

Flair bartending juggling-type entertainment performed by bartenders

Flair bartending is the practice of bartenders entertaining guests, clientele or audiences with the manipulation of bar tools and liquor bottles in tricky, dazzling ways. Used occasionally in cocktail bars, the action requires skills commonly associated with jugglers. It has become a sought-after talent among venue owners and marketers to help advertise a liquor product or the opening of a bar establishment. Competitions have been sponsored by liquor brands to attract flair bartenders, and some hospitality training companies hold courses to teach flair techniques.

In catering, beverage functions are functions where beverages are served.

Bartending terminology Terms used in drinking culture and bartending

Various unique terminology is used in bartending.

Flaming drink mixed drink with flammable alcohol set on fire before serving

A flaming drink is a cocktail or other mixed drink that contains flammable, high-proof alcohol, which is ignited prior to consumption. The alcohol may be an integral part of the drink, or it may be floated as a thin layer across the top of the drink. The flames are mostly for dramatic flair. However, in combination with certain ingredients, the flavor of the drink is altered. Some flavors are enhanced, and it may impart a toasted flavor to some drinks.

Bloody Mary (cocktail) Popular cocktail containing vodka and tomato juice

A Bloody Mary is a cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice, and other spices and flavorings including Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and celery salt. In the United States, it is usually consumed in the morning or early afternoon, and is popular as a hangover cure.

Signature drink any unique or original cocktail drink

A Signature drink is any unique or original drink that expresses the nature of the person or establishment creating it.

A well drink or rail drink is an alcoholic beverage served using the lower-cost liquors stored within easy reach of the bartender in the counter "speed rail", "speed rack", or "well".

Bartending school refers to private education businesses that teach individuals the many intricacies of serving customers alcohol from behind a bar. This includes not only classes in such topics as drinks mixology: the intricacies of mixing drinks and drink presentation, and the alcohol laws of the city and state, or province, in which the school is situated.

Index of drinking establishment–related articles

This is an index of drinking establishment-related articles.

The Cuban Bartenders' Club known in Spanish as Club de Cantineros de Cuba is a guild that brings together the bartenders of the Republic of Cuba.

Ada Coleman English bartender

Ada Coleman (1875–1966) was head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London for twenty-three years, one of only two women to have held that position. While working at the Savoy, she invented the "Hanky Panky”, a cocktail.

Lynnette Marrero is a New York City, NY-based bartender, mixologist and philanthropist known for creating the world's first all-female speed bartending competition, "Speed Rack." She is widely regarded as one of the pioneer female cocktail-specific bartenders in the industry.

Yangdup Lama

Yangdup Lama is an Indian mixologist, bartender, entrepreneur, author and is known to be one of India's finest mixologist.

Eryn Reece is an American bartender. She is the bar director for Banzabar and Freemans Restaurant, both in New York City. In 2013, Reece was named Speed Rack National Champion. In 2014, The Daily Meal named her one of the top 25 bartenders in the United States. Reece has been profiled in, and her work featured in, PUNCH, The Daily Beast, Maxim, WPIX, The Spirits Business, Thrillist, and other media outlets.

Ivy Mix is an American bartender. Mix is credited with popularizing mezcal in the United States. She is head bartender and co-owner of the James Beard Award nominated bar Leyenda in Brooklyn, New York. She co-founded Speed Rack alongside Lynnette Marrero. Mix was named Best American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail in 2015.

Monica Berg is a Norwegian bartender, liquor company owner, and digital innovator in London. She is originally from Norway. She received the Linie Honorary Award for her contributions to Norwegian food and drink culture in 2015 and in 2019 received the Altos Bartenders' Bartender Award at The World's 50 Best Bars, making her the first woman to be given the award.


  1. "OLGR > Information and training for students and staff >". Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  2. 1 2 De Mazenod, Anne-Sophie (July 19, 2017). "Barman, un phénomène de mode ?". Le Figaro. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
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  11. "Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees". U.S. Department of Labor. January 1, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  12. "Cocktail lounge - definition of cocktail lounge by The Free Dictionary". June 12, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  13. "Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus". Retrieved December 12, 2015.
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