Not everyone wants a 9 to 5 job. If you have a flair for drinks and like to work in a fast-paced environment then mixing drinks for a living could not only be fun but can also be the career for you. Over the years, serving alcohol as a bartender has transitioned from being a side hustle to becoming a full-time professional. And why not, since the average salary a bartender in California could earn is $30,000, and in Tennessee, it might be closer to $23,000. However, that is without customer tips and the national average says that bartenders usually rake in 150 dollars per night, which can add up to a salary that can hover around or exceed $65,094. Not bad at all isn’t it?
It’s fun mixed with a generous garnish of hard work when serving alcohol
Bartenders can make good money depending on the bar, location, and how fancy the establishment is. Bartending might look easy but it is fairly hard work. It can be like a warzone on a busy day.
As a bartender, it is not just knowing about your drinks but also knowing the inventory, stock keeping, cash, and management. You also need to be physically fit because staying on your feet for hours on end can be taxing.
You can learn this through hand on experience but a bartender course teaches you new skills using a professional approach. It is much easier to learn a new skill the right way rather than unlearning doubtful techniques.
That’s not all, unless you are in California, most states will want you to have your bartending license which requires to be renewed every 2 to 4 years, depending on the state. While obtaining a “bartending license” may not be a universal requirement in every location, there are bartending certifications and training programs that can help you gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work as a professional bartender.
How do you start?
The specific process for getting licensed may vary depending on the state you’re in, so it’s essential to research the ABC Training requirements in your area.
However, I can provide you with a general overview of the steps involved if you are starting out:
Research local regulations: Start by understanding the legal requirements and regulations related to bartending in your area. Check with your local government offices or regulatory bodies to find out if there are any specific licenses or certifications you need to obtain.
Attend the bartending course: Enroll in the bartending course of your choice and complete the required training. The duration of the course may vary, but it typically ranges from a few days to a couple of months. During the bartender classes, you’ll learn about various types of alcoholic beverages, their preparation methods, bartending equipment, and customer service techniques.
Pass any required exams: Depending on the state, you may need to pass an exam after completing the alcohol training program. The exam assesses your understanding of alcohol laws, responsible serving practices, and intervention techniques.
Apply for the required permits: Once you have completed the necessary ABC training and exams, you can apply for the permits or licenses required in your area. This may include an alcohol service permit, alcohol server license, or similar documentation. Follow the application process outlined by the local licensing authority, providing any required documentation and paying the associated fees.
Some permits or licenses may have expiration dates and require renewal. Stay informed about the renewal process and any continuing education requirements to maintain your licensure.
Gain practical experience: While not directly related to getting licensed, gaining practical experience is crucial for becoming a skilled bartender. Look for opportunities to work in bars, restaurants, or other establishments that offer bartending positions. Practical experience will help you refine your skills, learn from experienced professionals, and build your reputation within the industry.
What will you learn in a bartending course?
A bartending course will be designed to give you practical skills and knowledge. However, a bartender also needs to need to be sociable, engage with customers as well as know how to handle difficult situations that are a normal part of the job. Intoxicated customers will need to be treated with tact and professionalism. Don’t underestimate the training it needs to achieve that level of professionalism in a difficult situation.
The specific curriculum in the bartender classes you register for may vary depending on the duration and depth of the program. Here is what you can expect:
Bartending courses provide detailed information about various types of alcoholic beverages, including different types of spirits (such as vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, and liqueurs), wine, beer, and non-alcoholic options. Students learn about the production process, flavor profiles, and key characteristics of different brands.
Students will take their first dive into mixology. They will learn the proper techniques for mixing, stirring, shaking, and straining cocktails. They practice using bar tools such as jiggers, shakers, strainers, muddlers, and bar spoons to create balanced and visually appealing drinks.
Bartender classes cover the art of garnishing cocktails with ingredients like citrus twists, fruit slices, herbs, and cocktail cherries. Students learn various garnishing techniques to enhance the presentation and aroma of the drinks they prepare.
You will also explore different drink families, such as sours, fizzes, highballs, and punches. It is enthralling to learn the basic structures of these drinks and how to modify and customize them by varying the spirits, mixers, and garnishes.
Responsible alcohol service is a crucial aspect of bartending. Students are educated about local laws and regulations regarding the sale and service of alcohol, as well as techniques for preventing intoxication and dealing with challenging situations. As a student, you will learn to identify signs of intoxication and how to handle customer requests and conflicts in a professional and responsible manner.
It is a prerequisite as a bartender to maintain a clean and organized bar station. You will learn how to set up the bar area, arrange bottles and tools efficiently, and manage inventory. Proper hygiene, glassware selection, and bar cleanliness are also emphasized.
Bartending courses often include training on customer service and interpersonal communication. Students learn how to engage with customers, take orders, handle customer inquiries and complaints, and create a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere.
Serving alcohol also needs speed and efficiency behind the bar. Students learn techniques for multitasking, working under pressure, and efficiently serving multiple customers while maintaining drink quality and accuracy.
ABC Permits has an online course that can be accessed through the ABC Permits App. We also provide Classroom Training that is highly interactive with a specially designed, comprehensive curriculum – Have a look at the course details.
Cofounder of Aim To Serve, a training company for the hospitality industry.. Founded 20 years ago, AIM To Serve is a leader in responsible alcohol training and continues to create content that is relative to the challenges in the service and sales of alcohol. We educate restaurants, bars, and hotels on responsible service of alcohol.