How to Become a Bartender

Becoming a Bartender: The Ultimate Guide

As the heartbeat of any social gathering, bartending is an art that requires equal parts charm, chemistry, and attention to detail. If you’re looking to join this elite club, look no further! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of becoming a bartender, from theory to practice.

Getting Started

Before opening up those cocktail shakers or pouring drinks with finesse, let’s lay some groundwork. First things first: research local laws and regulations regarding bartending in your area. Each state has its own unique requirements for obtaining a liquor license (LL), so it’s crucial you understand what you’re getting into.

Next, take note of the various types of bartenders out there:

  1. General Bartender: The most common type, responsible for taking orders and serving drinks.
  2. Mixologist/Bartender-Extraordinaire: Skilled in crafting complex cocktails using a wide range of ingredients and techniques.
  3. Barback/Turntable Operator: Assists bartenders with tasks like washing glasses, cutting fruit, or managing inventory.

Now that you have an understanding of the different roles, let’s dive into…

Education and Training

While there is no formal degree required for becoming a bartender (yet!), acquiring some solid training can be instrumental in your journey. Look to local bars, schools offering mixology courses, or online platforms like:

  1. The Bartending Course: A comprehensive curriculum covering topics from basic mixology techniques to advanced cocktail creation.
  2. BarSmarts: An online course focusing on spirits knowledge, cocktails, and presentation.


  • Attend bartending seminars/conferences
  • Shadow an experienced bartender
  • Watch tutorials/cocktail videos (e.g., YouTube’s Cocktail Shaker or Bar Tools 101)

Practical Skills

With some theoretical background in hand, it’s time to put your skills into action!

  1. Shaking and Stirring: Learn the difference between shaking vs. stirring; how to properly use a Boston shaker.
  2. Cocktail Recipes: Familiarize yourself with classic cocktails (e.g., Old Fashioned, Negroni) as well as modern creations.
  3. Garnishing and Muddling: Develop an understanding of proper garnish techniques and the importance of muddling for optimal flavor extraction.

Personal Qualities

Now that we’ve covered theory and practice, it’s essential to consider your personal qualities:

  1. Attention to Detail: Paying attention to tiny details can create all the difference in crafting a perfect cocktail.
  2. Communication Skills: Be able to effectively take orders and communicate with patrons (e.g., allergies, dislikes).
  3. Time Management: Prioritize tasks efficiently while keeping an eye on multiple customers.

Getting Hired

Congratulations! You’re ready for your first bartending gig!

  1. Network: Attend industry events, join mixology groups online/offline to build connections and learn from others.
  2. Update Your Resume: Highlight any relevant training/ certifications; list the bars/restaurants you’ve worked at (even if it was just a stint).
  3. Interview Preparation:
    • Practice your answers to common interview questions (e.g., “What’s your favorite cocktail?”).
    • Come prepared with questions for potentail employers.

Certifications and Continuing Education

As an accomplished bartender, stay current by pursuing certifications:

  1. ABC/BT Certification: An internationally recognized certification offered through the United States Bartenders’ Guild.
  2. Local Mixology Certifications: Many areas offer region-specific mixology courses or workshops.

Continuously update your skills with training sessions and online resources (e.g., Spirited Wines, Cocktail Kingdom). The art of bartending is ever-evolving; stay on top of trends!


Embarking on a career in bartending requires dedication, passion, and creativity. This guide has provided you with the foundational knowledge to excel in this rewarding profession.

As a bartender,

  • Develop strong communication skills
  • Continuously update your training (theory & practical)
  • Stay attuned to local laws/ regulations

By following these guidelines and putting theory into practice, you’ll be well-equipped for an illustrious bartending career. Cheers!