Welcome to the Bartending Wikibook.
Before we progress, we first look at exactly who a bartender is and what he does.
A bartender is someone who serves drinks behind a bar in a bar, pub, tavern or similar establishment. This usually includes alcoholic beverages of some kind, such as beer (both draught and bottled), wine and/or cocktails, as well as soft drinks or other non-alcoholic beverages.
In addition to their core beverage-serving responsibility, bartenders also:
- take payment from customers (and sometimes the waiters or waitresses);
- maintain the liquor, garnishes, glassware, and other supplies or inventory for the bar;
- serve food to customers sitting at the bar.
In establishments where cocktails are served, bartenders are expected to be able to mix hundreds to thousands of different drinks.
Bartenders also usually serve as the public image of the bar they tend, contributing to as well as reflecting the atmosphere of the bar. In establishments focused more on food, this can mean the bartender is all but invisible. On the other extreme, some establishments make the bartender part of the entertainment, expecting him perhaps to engage in flair bartending or other forms of entertainment such as those exemplified in films such as Cocktail or Coyote Ugly. Some bars might be known for bartenders which serve the drinks and otherwise let a patron alone, while others want their bartenders to be good listeners and offer counselling (or a "shoulder to cry on") as required. Good bartenders help provide a steady clientèle by remembering the favoured drinks of regulars, having recommendations on hand for local night life beyond the bar, or other unofficial duties. They are sometimes called upon for answers to a wide variety of questions on topics such as sports trivia, directions or the marital status of other patrons.
In regions where tipping is the norm, bartenders depend on tips for most of their income. In those establishments where minors are allowed within the bar area, bartenders are also usually responsible for confirming that customers are of the legal drinking age before serving them alcohol.
In some states, bartenders are required to obtain certification as a condition of employment.
The Better Bureau Bartending Schools has State information regarding alcohol server laws.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) provides extensive detail on the typical job requirements faced by bartenders in the United States, as well as employments and earning statistics by those so employed. For example, a November 2004 (unemployed) BLS study determined that Montana is the only US state where over 1% of the state's workforce is employed as a bartender.
The following is the job description for bartenders used by the BLS:
- Bartenders fill drink orders either taken directly from patrons at the bar or through waiters and waitresses who place drink orders for dining room customers. Bartenders check identification of customers seated at the bar, to ensure they meet the minimum age requirement for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco products. They prepare mixed drinks, serve bottled or draught beer, and pour wine or other beverages. Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks accurately, quickly, and without waste. Besides mixing and serving drinks, bartenders stock and prepare garnishes for drinks; maintain an adequate supply of ice, glasses, and other bar supplies; and keep the bar area clean for customers. They also may collect payment, operate the cash register, wash glassware and utensils, and serve food to customers seated at the bar. Bartenders usually are responsible for ordering and maintaining an inventory of liquor, mixes, and other bar supplies.
- The majority of bartenders directly serve and interact with patrons. Bartenders should be friendly and enjoy talking with customers. Bartenders at service bars, on the other hand, have less contact with customers. They work in small bars often located off the kitchen in restaurants, hotels, and clubs where only waiters and waitresses place drink orders. Some establishments, especially larger, higher volume ones, use equipment that automatically measures, pours and mixes drinks at the push of a button. Bartenders who use this equipment, however, still must work quickly to handle a large volume of drink orders and be familiar with the ingredients for special drink requests. Much of a bartender's work still must be done by hand to fill each individual order.
Aim of this Wikibook
This Wikibook seeks to teach you the essential theoretical knowledge you need as a barkeeper, whether you wish to do this as an amateur or as a professional. Then you will be ready to practice the art for real.
Quotations about Bartending
Here are some quotations related to bartending. These quotations are from or to bartenders; from bartending books; or about bartending in general.
- It took thousands, nay, millions of years for humankind to evolve to the point where its opposable thumbs allowed the species to finally achieve success in its tumultuous struggle to twist open a beer.
- --Opening sentence to The Official Harvard Student Agencies Bartending Course, 3rd Edition, ISBN 0-312-25286-2
- To my mother, who could use a drink for having been blessed with me.
- --Dedication to Bartender's Black Book, 7th Edition, ISBN 1-891-26775-2
- Time to slip out of these wet clothes and into a dry Martini.
- --Mae West
- A good writer is not necessarily a good book critic. No more so than a good drunk is automatically a good bartender.
- --Jim Bishop
- In Nevada, for a time, the lawyer, the editor, the banker, the chief desperado, the chief gambler, and the saloon-keeper occupied the same level of society, and it was the highest'
- --Mark Twain, Roughing it, 1872
- Job description in the US from the BLS
- Employment and earnings statistics in the US, also from the BLS
- Minimum Ages for Bartending in the US from a State University of New York at Potsdam website
- US based group of 34 bartending schools with information on becoming a bartender. From Professional Bartending Schools of America
- Westchester's Premier Bartending School outlining the difference from just mixing drinks and how to actually be a bartender. From Academy of Professional Bartending School New York
- Information on Responsible Alcohol Serving. From APB Bartending Schools in New York