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We answer the internet’s most searched questions about bartenders.

What kind of license do you need to be a bartender?

Most states do not require a bartending license or certification. For example, states like Florida, Georgia, New York, and Ohio do not require specific training or licenses to serve alcohol.

On the other hand, bartending in places like Indiana, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, and Washington, requires passing examinations to obtain a permit to serve alcohol, some of which must be retaken every few years.

How do I become a bartender with no experience?

Scoring a bartending gig with no experience can be pretty tough. Here are a few paths to behind the bar.

Begin working as a server or barback, then eventually move to bartender. This is the most popular method of becoming a bartender.

If you’re honest about your lack of experience but have a good attitude and the kind of personality they’re looking for, employers may hire you for slower shifts, often pairing you with a more experienced bartender to show you the ropes. And of course, in the meantime you should watch Thirsty Bartender video tutorials to build up your bartending chops.

You could also lie about your experience, which is very risky and not recommended, Often bars test your knowledge and pour accuracy during the training process, which will expose your inexperience pretty quickly. If you do manage to get in this way, it may not take long for your coworkers (and employer) to figure things out.

How long does it take to become a bartender?

Depending on where you are and which path you happen to take (see above, under How do I become a bartender with no experience?), it could be anywhere from no time at all to a few years.

How much does a bartender make a year?

The short answer is: it depends. Bartending is one of the lucky professions that rewards hard work. That being said, many considerations influence how much a bartender can make a year, such as location, venue, business concept, clientele, and expertise, but really it boils down to two main factors.

  • Volume: The more drinks you serve, the more tips you earn.
  • Skill: Better service earns better tips while growing a good base of regulars.

All in all, hourly wage plus tips put a bartender’s annual income anywhere from $20,000 to over $100K (at the very high end), with most falling somewhere in the middle.

By the way, the minimum hourly wage for tipped employees varies from state to state, with many as low as $2.13 an hour. That means the vast majority of bartenders in the US make their living on tips, so tip generously!

How long does it take to get certified as a bartender?

In the regions where a license and/or certifications are required, getting certified can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Different schools take different amounts of time.

How long does it take to get certified as a bartender?

The minimum age for bartending varies by state, ranging between 18 to 21 years old. Some bartenders are old enough to serve before they’re old enough to drink!

What is a freelance bartender?

A freelance bartender is hired to work private parties or special events, such as a New Year’s Eve celebration. Many bartenders take regular freelance gigs for extra money. Nothing wrong with a little side hustle!

How do I pick up a bartender?

Don’t.

Okay, serious answer. Bartenders get hit on ALL. THE. TIME. It seriously does not matter how good your regular game might work under normal circumstances, bartenders have heard it all, I promise you. Trying to pick up the bartender is super unoriginal, and the success rate is not good. Well, unless you’re T-Pain. Honestly, you’re in a bar with tons of other people. Instead of trying to pick up bartenders, you should be recruiting their help to chat up other hot customers!

If you’re still dead set on hitting on the bartender, it’s probably better if you let them hit on you. Be original, funny, generous, and confident. You know, like how an attractive person would act. If they’re into you they’ll let you know (see above).

Whatever you do, and this cannot be stressed enough, make sure to tip well. You could be super hot with an amazing personality, but if you leave a shitty tip? Cancelled. Done. Bye.

How should I dress for a bartending job?

Assuming your job doesn’t require a uniform, it’s best to wear black or dark-colored clothing that is both appropriate for your venue and won’t restrict your movement. Dark colors are useful for hiding stains when you spill shit all over yourself, which absolutely will happen.

Comfortable shoes can help prevent injuries as well as foot, knee, and back pain. Bartenders work on their feet for hours at a time, often moving and turning quickly. Unless you want a sprained ankle or busted up knees, maybe skip the four-inch stilettos.

Bartending can get wet and messy, so choose clothes you don’t mind getting covered in booze and bar funk.

What kind of education do you need to be a bartender?

As far as government requirements, bartending education depends on location. In some areas, bartenders must pass a state-administered course and/or obtain certifications in order to pour and serve alcohol. Even in regions that do not require official bartending education, individual bars and venues may require their employees to complete training classes on product knowledge and serving alcohol responsibly.

But in most cases, you don’t need education to be a bartender, just charm and a good personality.

How do I hire the best bartender?

Go to ThirstyBartenders.com, duh!

Referrals are also a pretty reliable method of hiring good talent, especially if the recommendation comes from another bartender.

If all else fails, take a few nights and scout the talent at local bars. Have a few drinks, watch how people work, and look for someone friendly, professional, and efficient. Best. Research. Ever.

How much should I tip a bartender?

If you’re paying cash as you go, at least $1 a drink is standard. If running a tab, a 20% gratuity is minimum. Pro tip: dropping a big cash tip on the first round ($20 or more) is a good way to make sure you have the bartender’s attention for the rest of the night. This is especially useful in bars that get super crowded.

If this sounds a little pricey, keep in mind you’re not just paying for booze—you’re also paying for the service and the experience of being out. If you want to avoid tipping, it’s probably better to invite friends over and host a private party.

How do you know if the bartender is into you?

They’ll chat you up a lot. Like, a lot a lot. If you look around and see other guests waiting for drinks while they’re chatting with you, that’s a pretty good sign. Also, they might buy you a drink. Or they’ll simply slip you their number.

Many bartenders tend to be pretty flirty as part of their job, so it can be difficult to tell whether they’re just being friendly or if they’re actually into you. Most experienced bartenders understand this, so if they’re interested they’ll make it pretty clear.

How to fake drinking alcohol as a bartender?

Depending on where you work, drinking during your shift can get you fired—or worse.

Every now and then guests will ask you to do a shot with them. Most of the time they’ll accept the explanation that drinking is against bar policy/the rules/the law, and could cost you your job. Occasionally some guests get extremely insistent, to the point that refusal would upset or offend them. In such cases here are a few options:

  • Shake and strain water into a shot glass. This usually works if the guest is drinking clear shots like vodka or tequila blanco.
  • Mix a shot of fruit juice or something that looks like what you’re making your guest.

When it’s shot time, make sure you’re drinking your “special” shot and not an alcoholic one!

Before doing anything however, make your manager aware that you’ll be faking a shot for a guest so they don’t freak out and fire you for drinking.

What is a fancy word for bartender?

“Fancy” is a relative term. Bartenders have been called many things over the years. Some fancier terms include mixologist, cocktail crafter, liquid chef, and libation administrator.

A few bartenders jokingly call themselves “cocktologists,” but don’t use that word unless you enjoy getting side-eye.

How much does a bartender make a night?

Some bartenders pull in six figures a year, which averages to over $500 a shift four times a week. Others may grind out $50 a night five shifts a week. Realistically speaking, a bartender will likely earn between $100 and $500 a night, depending on the clientele, the bar, and the level of experience.

Who plays the bartender in Deadpool?

The bartender in Deadpool is played by actor and comedian T.J. Miller, best known for his roles in Silicon Valley, Cloverfield, Ready Player One, and How to Train Your Dragon.

What does it mean if a bartender buys me a shot?

There are many reasons why bartenders would buy you a shot.

  • You’re cool. Keep it up.
  • appreciation for being a good tipper. (Note: tipping well does not automatically entitle you to free shots)
  • they haven’t seen you in a while
  • as a courtesy for doing them a favor
  • there’s some booze leftover from the previous order and you happen to be close by
  • If you’ve literally done nothing unusual and a bartender buys you a shot out of the blue and pays extra attention to you, that might mean they’re attracted to you (see How do you know if the bartender is into you)

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