Cocktail bartender

A cocktail bartender


Cocktail bartenders perform expert mixing of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.

Cocktail bartenders typically do the following:

  • Assist with developing new craft cocktails to add to the menu
  • Prepare, mix and put together craft cocktail syrups from scratch
  • Prepare alcohol or non-alcohol beverages for bar and restaurant patrons
  • Interact with customers, take orders and serve snacks and drinks
  • Assess customers’ needs and preferences and make recommendations
  • Mix ingredients to prepare cocktails
  • Check customers’ identification and confirm it meets legal drinking age
  • Restock and replenish bar inventory and supplies
  • Stay guest focused and nurture an excellent guest experience
  • Comply with all food and beverage regulations

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to cocktail bartender:

mixology waiter
mixology bartender
flair bartender

Working conditions

Bartenders typically work indoors, some work outdoors at pool or beach bars or at catered events.

During busy hours, bartenders are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently while ensuring that no alcohol is served to minors or to overly intoxicated customers.

Bartenders do repetitive tasks, and sometimes they lift heavy kegs of beer and cases of liquor. In addition, the work may be stressful, particularly when they deal with intoxicated customers.

Work Schedules

Bartenders often work late evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Part-time work is common, and schedules may vary.

Minimum qualifications

Cocktail bartenders typically need no formal education to enter the occupation, although employers may prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma. Some aspiring bartenders acquire their skills by attending a school for bartending or taking courses at a community college. These programs usually include instruction on mixing cocktails, serving customers, and setting up a bar. Some schools help their graduates find jobs.

Cocktail bartenders typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. Under the guidance of an experienced bartender, trainees learn cocktail recipes, bar-setup procedures, and customer service, including how to handle unruly customers and other challenging situations. In establishments where bartenders serve food, training may cover teamwork and proper food-handling procedures.

Some employers teach bartending skills to new workers by providing self-study programs, which may include videos and instructional booklets, that explain service skills.

As the job of cocktail bartender involves serving alcohol, it is necessary to be of minimum drinking age

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Cocktail bartender is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Cocktail bartender career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to cocktail bartender.

restaurant host/restaurant hostess
club host/club hostess

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of cocktail bartender. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of cocktail bartender with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

venue director
pastry chef
restaurant manager
head chef

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of cocktail bartender.

  • Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
  • Handle glassware: Utilise glassware by polishing, cleaning and storing it properly.
  • Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
  • Prepare fruit ingredients for use in beverages: Cut or blend fruits for use in preparation and decoration of drinks such as cocktails and aperitifs.
  • Display spirits: Show full range of available spirits in a visually pleasing manner.
  • Clear the bar at closing time: Free the bar at closing time by politely encouraging patrons to leave at closing time according to policy.
  • Handover the service area: Leave service area in conditions which follow safe and secure procedures, so that it is ready for the next shift.
  • Think creatively about food and beverages: Generate innovative and creative ideas to come up with new recipes, preparations of food and beverages and new ways to present the products.
  • Stock the bar: Keep and replenish bar inventory and bar supplies.
  • Assist customers: Provide support and advice to customers in making purchasing decisions by finding out their needs, selecting suitable service and products for them and politely answering questions about products and services.
  • Extract juices: Obtain juice from fruits or vegetables either manually or by using equipment.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Enforce alcohol drinking laws: Implement local legislation surrounding the selling of alcoholic beverages, including its sale to minors.
  • Take payments for bills: Accept payments from customers by cash money or credit cards.
  • Prepare mixed beverages: Make a range of mixed alcoholic drinks, such as cocktails and long drinks and non-alcoholic drinks according to the recipes.
  • Present drinks menu: Acquaint guests with items on the drinks menu, make recommendations and answer questions regarding beverages.
  • Work according to recipe: Perform tasks in food preparation according to recipe or specification in order to preserve the quality of ingredients and to ensure replication accuracy of the recipe. Select the appropriate materials to follow the recipe, taking into account the current situation.
  • Set up bar area: Arrange the bar area such as the counter, equipment, side stations, side tables and displays, so that it is ready for the upcoming shift and in conditions which follow safe, hygienic and secure procedures.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Handle bar equipment: Use bar equipment such as cocktail shakers, blenders and cutting boards.
  • Serve beverages: Provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, mineral waters, wine and bottled beer over a counter or using a tray.
  • Create new recipes: Combine innovative and creative ideas to come up with new recipes and preparations to extend the product of range of a company. Make modifications to recipes in order to enhance taste, reach productivity goals, develop and improve products.
  • Maintain bar cleanliness: Keep cleanliness in all the bar areas including counters, sinks, glasses, shelves, floors and storage areas.
  • Present decorative drink displays: Show drinks in the most attractive way and develop decorative drink displays.
  • Execute opening and closing procedures: Apply standard opening and closing procedures for a bar, a store, a restaurant or a marketplace.
  • Operate dishwashing machine: Handle dishwashing machines with used plates, glass, service utensils and cutlery.
  • Assemble cocktail garnishes: Create cocktail garnishes by applying decorations such as straws, stirrers, spices and condiments.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cocktail bartender. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Sparkling wines: The varieties of sparkling wines and their match with food products.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cocktail bartender. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

5132 – Bartenders

  1. Cocktail bartender – ESCO
  2. Bartenders : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Featured image: By Gennady Grachev from Moscow, Russia – VDNH 283, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on November 6, 2022

What do you want to do with this job?

You will be brought to the forum page

Requires a business account

Requires a business account

Thinking about your next career move?

Answer a few questions about your jobs and education, and we’ll give you suggestions about your best possible career move. It’s completely free!