How to Hire a Bartender

A professional bartender can help attract customers to your business. When patrons come to a bar to relax and recreate, they appreciate the professionalism and skill that a trained bartender provides.

Different types of businesses may require a different style of bartender. We’ll take you step by step with a guide to finding and hiring the right person, including crafting the perfect bartender job description.

hire a bartender

Why Hire a Professional Bartender?

Hiring a professional bartender ensures the quality of service, customer satisfaction, and compliance with alcohol regulations. They can create a positive atmosphere and drive sales.

The bartender also sets the tone of an establishment and enhances the customer experience, which is why it’s essential to send a well-crafted interview rejection letter to those who don’t make the cut.

hire a bartender

The Art of Mixed Drinks and Why It Matters

Bartenders should have knowledge of drink recipes, excellent multitasking abilities, precise measurement skills, and a good understanding of customer preference, backed by a solid training plan template.

Most customers who order a mixed drink are familiar with that particular drink. They know how it should taste and how it should be presented. If a bartender makes a mistake in preparation, the customer will know at first taste.

It’s also important to get to know regular customers and what types of alcohol they prefer to drink. For example, when making a standard gin and tonic mixed drink, the gin that’s usually used may not be top-of-the-line. A gin and tonic lover may prefer a top-of-the-line gin in the mixed drink. The customer will appreciate the bartender who remembers that preference.

hire a bartender

Key Factors to Consider When You Want to Hire a Bartender

When you’re hiring a bartender, look for skills like mixology, customer service, and time management. Also, consider unusual ways to promote a job opening to attract the right talent.

Character traits like friendliness, patience, and professionalism are also crucial. A good bartender knows that interaction with customers can be a key part of creating the business’s image.

hire a bartender

Characteristics of a Great Bartender

Great bartenders are attentive, friendly, efficient, and can handle high-pressure situations. They have a passion for mixology and a commitment to responsible service, which involves knowing how to onboard new employees for optimal performance.

A great bartender is also knowledgeable about beer and wine selections. For example, a customer asks if the bar carries a certain type of pale ale beer. Well, they don’t. But the bartender can recommend a pale ale that they do carry that the customer may like.

The great bartender serves that pale ale stand-in and checks in to find out what the customer thinks.

hire a bartender

Red Flags to Avoid in Bartending Services

Red flags to watch for when hiring a bartender include:

  • Gaps in employment
  • Frequent job changes
  • Lack of relevant experience
  • Any prior legal or motor vehicle issues related to alcohol

Addressing these aspects properly can reduce hiring bias.

How to Find a Bartender Perfect for Your Needs

You can post job openings on job platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and industry-specific forums. Local classifieds and social media can also be productive places to find candidates.

hire a bartender

Steps to Hiring a Bartender

Where can you find a bartender? Hiring bartenders involves the following steps:

  1. Defining the job requirements and writing the job description
  2. Posting the job request for bartending services
  3. Reviewing applications
  4. Conducting interviews
  5. Checking references
  6. Scheduling a trial run working at the bar as a bartender
  7. Making a job offer.
  8. Deciding whether or not should I hire a family member is a good idea for your specific establishment.

hire a bartender

Research the Legal Aspects of Hiring a Bartender

Legal considerations when you hire a bartender include checking for proper age and work eligibility, adhering to alcohol service laws, and understanding liability issues.

Hiring a Licensed Bartender

A licensed bartender has the necessary training and knowledge to serve alcohol responsibly, reducing the risk of legal issues and ensuring customer safety.

Suppose the bartender isn’t licensed and there’s an issue with a patron, such as being arrested for operating under the influence after leaving the bar. In that case, the establishment may be held responsible.

hire a bartender

Understanding Local Alcohol Laws

The bartender must adhere to local laws regarding alcohol sales and consumption.

Bartenders must be aware of local laws to ensure compliance, prevent overservice, and avoid potential legal problems.

Creating a Job Listing that Attracts the Right Bartender

A job description should include job responsibilities, qualifications, work schedule, compensation, and information about the establishment.

Include details about the bar to help position your establishment as a desirable workplace.

The Interview Process

Conduct behavior-based interviews, ask about specific scenarios, assess their mixology knowledge, and gauge their customer service skills.

Many bar owners also set up a trial run, hiring the bartender for a night or two to better assess their experience level, skills, and fit with the bar.

hire a bartender

Making the Final Decision

The bar owner, after assessing the candidate during interviews and in the workplace, should have a gut feeling about hiring.

Weigh different factors. Does the candidate lack experience but excel at interactions with the customers? Were there some mixed drinks that the candidate didn’t know how to make? You have to weigh the positives against the negatives.

Key QualityWhy It's ImportantHow to EvaluatePotential Interview Questions
Customer Service SkillsEssential for building rapport and ensuring customer satisfactionObserve during trial period, customer feedbackDescribe a time you went above and beyond for a customer.
Mixology SkillsRequired for crafting quality drinksSkill test, previous job experienceWhat are your signature cocktails?
Knowledge of Health and SafetyTo maintain a clean and safe environmentCertifications, practical examinationWhat steps do you take to keep your work area clean?
Communication SkillsCritical for both customer interactions and team coordinationTeam feedback, direct observationHow do you handle a difficult customer?
ReliabilityEssential for maintaining a consistent level of servicePast employment records, referencesCan you describe your attendance record at your last job?
Stress ManagementNecessary for busy shifts and high-volume periodsTrial period, peer feedbackHow do you handle stressful situations?
Attention to DetailFor accurately taking orders and making drinksSkill test, customer feedbackDescribe a situation where attention to detail was crucial.
SalesmanshipUseful for upselling and increasing revenueSales records, customer feedbackHow do you approach upselling?
Cash Handling SkillsRequired for processing payments correctlyCounting test, past experienceHave you ever discovered a discrepancy while balancing the till?
FlexibilityImportant for covering different shifts and roles as neededAvailability, willingness to adaptAre you comfortable working weekends and holidays?

Finding the Right Bar Service for Your Event

Different events may require basic, standard, or premium bar services. The level depends on the budget and the expectations of the event.

The Benefits of Hiring a Private Bartender for Special Events

A private bartender should be adaptable and able to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the event host and guests.

For each of the private events where bartending service is needed, listed below, keep in mind that you may need more than one private bartender, depending on the number of guests. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 2-3 bartenders for 100 people.

hire a bartender

Organizing a Corporate Event

Specific needs and preferences may be spelled out to the private bartender by the organizers of the corporate event, such as beer and wine only, and possibly alcohol only served during a pre-meal happy hour bar service. Or, the corporate event may include full bar service, with beer, wine and mixed drinks. Bartending services may be required again after the meal.

Wedding Bartenders for Wedding Businesses

The people paying for the wedding may have specific instructions for wedding bartenders. Those requests may be due to their budget, such as beer and wine only, or they may specify a cash bar service (guests pay for their drinks). The wedding private bartender will cater to the hosts requriements.

Organizing a Private Party

A private bartender may be hired for a party to serve drinks, especially if the host has no experience in bartending service. The host of the private party may prefer that those details be handled by a private bartender, who can provide the host with a list of what stock is needed for the private party.

hire a bartender

Serve Drinks the Right Way: Training and Best Practices

The type of glass and temperature can affect the presentation and taste of mixed drinks. Bartenders should know which glassware to use for each drink.

In addition to temperature and type of glassware, presentation is important. The bar owner should provide ongoing training for staff to keep up to date with trends.

Keeping Your New Bartender Engaged and Motivated

Once the bartender is onboard and working, don’t neglect training. Also, don’t neglect to praise when praise is due. Ask the bartender for feedback and listen.

Often the bar owner isn’t present for the start and end of every shift. Make it a point to have a conversation with each of your bartender employees on a regular basis.

FAQs: How to Hire a Bartender

How much does it cost to hire a bartender?

Costs can vary to find a bartender but may include advertising expenses, time spent on interviews, background checks, and any training or certification costs.

How many bartenders do you need for 100 guests?

The number of bartenders depends on the complexity of the drinks and the expected rate of consumption, but typically, 2-3 bartenders for 100 guests is a good starting point.

Is it better to hire an experienced bartender or train someone?

It depends on your specific needs and the type of establishment. Experienced bartenders can hit the ground running, while newcomers can be trained to fit your establishment’s culture.

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.