What Does It Take to Get Started as a Bartender?

Are you constantly trying exciting new recipes and whipping up creative cocktails for friends? If you are an amateur mixologist, bartending could be a perfect fit for you!

So what does it take to get started as a bartender?

Start out as a barback

Many bartenders began their journey as a barback or in other positions at a restaurant. As a barback, you will gain valuable experience behind the bar. Stocking bottles and cans will help you get familiar with different brands and their location at the bar. Similarly, preparing garnishes and cleaning barware will further your knowledge of what to expect behind the bar.

As a barback, the bartenders are your most valuable asset. Watch them as they mix cocktails. Bartenders appreciate hard workers and will be more eager to share their knowledge and train you on-the-job.

Get your license

An essential part of starting a bartending career is getting your license. Most states require a license to work as a bartender. A license is more than just a certification though; a bartending license course will also teach you the laws related to serving alcohol in your state and how to handle unruly or over-served customers. Many courses are taught in-person or online.

Practice your skills

Bartending is not just about knowing the drinking laws and memorizing cocktail ingredients. If you want to become a good bartender, you need to learn how to properly mix and pour drinks. Practicing at home with bartending tools such as a jigger, a shaker, a mixing spoon, and a strainer can help you elevate your skillset.

Learning how to properly mix a drink is important too. Adding too much of one ingredient can throw off the entire recipe and over pouring alcohol in drinks can cost the bar money in the long run.

Stay patient and humble

Becoming a bartender does not happen overnight. Be sure to put in the time to learn the tools of the trade and make yourself available for whatever the bar needs if you are starting out as a barback. Learn from the bartenders and other bar staff you work with and be sure to display a desire to put in the work.

If you work at it, your dream job as a bartender could very well be right around the corner.