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Owning a Bar: A Good Read for New Bartenders

Who (in their right mind) would Want to Own a Bar?

The Fantasy

Lots of us have this fantasy of opening a bar somewhere. I mean how much is there to it really?
All you have to do is buy a bunch of liquor (probably in bulk and save money, right?), get in a good selection of beer, get a couple of big screen TVs, and keep a couple of bottles of champagne in case the local sports team does something noteworthy, or some misguided honeymooners come into your dive. You’re all set, right?
For the rest of the time you’re “Sam Malone” and everybody knows your name. What could be better than that?

“Well, Sammy,” says a familiar voice, “let me tell you about that…”

The Reality

Welcome to the Mole-men Corps! As the owner of a bar, most of your time is going to be spent underground. Yep, you’ll be down in the basement, wrestling beer kegs into position, hooking things up, purging lines, washing containers, making sure the carbon dioxide is sufficient for your beer engines & soda fountains, and then checking & changing syrup canisters so that your mixers continued to flow reliably.

The rest of the time you’ll spend unplugging toilets, slaving over a computer covered in spreadsheets in the backroom, doing payroll, creating liquor-order sheets, doing all of the accounting, filling in the books, making bank deposits, picking up booze, returning empties, and buying new glasses to replace all the broken ones.

And if you didn’t get good advice to start you’ll probably be replacing all those loose tables and chairs with things that are firmly bolted to the floor and nailed to the wall. At least you will after your first lawsuit because some drunk leaned on the corner of the table that toppled over under his weight.

The Ideal Candidate

Who should be a bar-owner? The very best candidate would probably be a certified refrigeration mechanic, a plumber, a carpenter, an all-round handyman, and a legal advocate. But most importantly, they should be someone that has worked in a bar before.

You’re going to spend a lot of time fixing stuff (or a lot of money getting some else to fix it for you)! And you’re going to need your wits about you to fight your way through the bureaucratic cesspool that is intent on stopping you from fulfilling your dream, just to obtain a liquor license in the first place.

The municipality will probably consult with everybody within 1 mile radius of your proposed location to see if they want to permit a bar or tavern. If enough people don’t like the idea, you’re either going to have to spend a lot of time convincing them, or find a new location.

What’s the Plan?

The best possible way to proceed is to buy Somebody Else’s Bar. The liquor license is already in place, and transferring it should be a breeze compared to getting approval for brand new liquor license.
The problem is, much like a franchise purchase, you might have to spend as much as ¼ million dollars to buy such an outfit, no matter how small. Bars and taverns have intrinsic value in terms of their clientele, neighborhood goodwill, and earning potential.

But if you completely lack experience in the trade and are going to rely on someone that you trust to run the bar for you, just so you can have the pride of ownership, then you face a lot fewer problems.

Getting Owned (by the staff)

Nothing can put you out of business faster than a disloyal employee. Liquor disappearing at the back door; “spillage”; bartenders pouring very generous shots to get bigger tips; staff giving away free drinks to friends; staff cooking and eating food without at least paying the discount price; and all the way down to swiping a few rolls of toilet paper to take home.

Pay your staff well; treat your staff well; but then still make a point of checking to be sure you’re not being victimized. Buy a thoughtful gift for a holiday or birthday; have an annual excursion for the entire staff to local water park. Make your bar a remarkable and fun place to work, and your staff will see it that way, too.

Do your research

Hit some Trade Shows in your area if they’re available. You’ll learn an awful lot there, and representatives are willing to tell you just about anything you need to know in hopes of selling you their equipment.

Read up in a few industry magazines (Bar & Beverage, Bar Business, Nightclub & Bar, Bar Magazine, Pub & Bar, etc.) to gather some insight on the industry. They can give you some great ideas for the design of your bar and clever ways to ensure “flow”, but they can also keep you apprised of new technologies, from a clever little flow meter for your bottles, to a brand new beer engine that saves you hours of maintenance.

Reconnoiter successful bars in the area and see how they’re being successful. Is it because the offer Theme Nights, Giveaways, Happy Hours, or Loyalty Rewards? Do they draw in the patrons with just pure ambience? Do they rely on a single product, like the craft brewer selling only their own productions and beer from local artisans? Maybe it is a wine bar but with limited success because they flatly refuse to carry any starter liquors like vodka, gin, rum, and beer is completely out of the question in their mind.

So, Who Wants to Own a Bar?

You do! Of course facing the reality of all the real work involved in running a business is difficult. It’s better to know before you start that is not going to be easy. You probably won’t earn a dime of profit in the first year, but after you get over that hump, establish yourself and have regular clientele, you will have time to relax at the bar, and finally slow down enough, once you are organized, to release your confident inner “Sam Malone”… You and your clients will be “as one” yelling “Close the Door!” on chilly evenings.

Lesson on Pour Spouts for New Bartenders

In this next video, I go into some important tips on pour spouts. I talk about standard pour spouts, fast pour spouts, and stopping pour spouts. I also go into the importance of free pouring and not relying on stopping pour spouts as well as which pour spouts to stay away from.

The video below was filmed at location when I taught a 1 day recreational bartending workshop at a small cafe, Basecamp Cafe and Info Lounge, using Premium Blend liquor substitutes.

If you are interested in learning more on how to be a bartender, then you might want to enroll in my online bartending school that will give you a much deeper understanding on the subject – not to mention better video quality!

A Lesson on Liquor Brands for New Bartenders

While creating this online bartending school, I was bartending at a lounge in the adorable town of Pine Mountain Club, California.  The owner of Basecamp Cafe and Info Lounge reached out to me and thought it would be a great idea to do a 1 day recreational bartending workshop.  Because the cafe only had a wine and beer license, they had recently acquired an amazing set of liquor substitutes by Premium Blend.  It was win-win for everyone involved!  We promoted the new products to the attendee’s, I got to teach bartending to a fun crowd and film the whole thing for you to enjoy!

I’ve cut the video’s into short lessons so you can get an idea of what is involved in learning to become a bartender. Keep in mind that this series of videos were filmed at location while I was teaching a crash-crash course on how to bartend for recreational proposes.  This is completely different from the online bartending course that I created for those who actually want a deeper understanding on how to become a bartender.

In this short video, I discuss the importance of knowing your liquor brands and how learning the shapes of the bottles can help immensely!

If you’d like to take our official course then click the Enroll Now button below to learn more!

A Lesson on Event Bartending for New Bartenders

Setup for your Bartending Event

A place for everything, and everything in its place! Bartenders live and die by this rule. If you set up your work space the same way, every time, your life will be so much easier.

When you are busy you won’t have to look or read labels. If you stretch your left hand out, your fingers hit the necks of the bottles and you know the pattern vodka…gin… rum… while your right hand is icing the glass in a smooth, organized ballet of motion.

In the same way, you can organize your fruit juices/mixes, garnishes, and bulk premixes (e.g. Bloody Mary) to optimize efficiency. A couple of minutes spent at the beginning can save you hundreds of minutes over the course of your shift.




A Lesson on Bartending Tools for New Bartenders

It is said that “a poor workman blames their tools”, but it can be a simple matter of not understanding how to use them properly. There are some very specific tools, unique to bartending, and you need to know their function to use them properly.  We go over way more tools and how to use them in our online bartending school!

If you’re making a mojito, you need to be able to bruise the mint leaves to release their flavor. Just dropping them in the drink will accomplish nothing!

If whatever you’re mixing has solid pieces that you don’t want to wind up in the drink, there’s a tool for that, and you have to know how to use it.

If you’re going to be fast, efficient, and looked upon as highly competent, you need to know how to pick your pour spouts and pour accurately. The best bartenders don’t measure—they know!

Want to start a fun and rewarding career a great Bartender? Do you want to accomplish that without paying hundreds or thou$and$? Our online bartending school is the way to go!

A Lesson on Bar Setup for New Bartenders

When you are bartending an event you typically wear fairly formal attire.  This would include black slacks, black non-slip shoes, a black or white shirt, with a black or white tie, and a black vest or a black jacket depending on the expected temperature of your working environment.

Sometimes your client will ask you to try to fit into the theme of their event.  Ordinarily your own personal (non-working) wardrobe should provide what you need.  Don’t go crazy and try to win the costume contest.  Dress to fit in, not to stand out.

Arrive early and get the things that need to be on ice, on ice!  Nobody appreciates warm Chablis or a room-temperature beer.  If you didn’t prepare your garnishes ahead of time and bring them with you, make sure you have enough time to get them ready before your show starts.

Whether you’re at a table, a pass-through window, or portable bar, set things up the best you can, given the circumstances.  Build a small display of what you have available, so you won’t have to recite beer or wine brands all shift.  The more you prepare, the easier your shift!

Want to learn more about Bartending?  Want to start a fun and rewarding career as a bartender?  Do you want to accomplish all that without paying hundred$ or thou$and$ for a bartending school course? Contact us for more info



What Is The Legal Bartending Age In Each State?

Majority of Bartenders & Servers

   STATE                        Bartending Age                                   Wait staff

Alphabetic         “on premises” establishment

  • Alabama                                   21                                                           19 (adult supervision required)
  • Alaska                                       21                                                           21
    83 towns prohibit the sale/possession of alcohol in Alaska and in Fairbanks it is illegal to give any alcoholic beverage to a moose.  It is also illegal to be drunk and remain in a bar.
  • Arizona                                     19                                                           19
  • Arkansas                                  21                                                           19
    Parental consent is required for those working with alcohol under the age of 21.
  • California                                 21                                                           18
    Servers in California can be convicted of selling alcohol to a minor if the purchaser uses a false or altered ID to buy the alcohol.  Minors may not work in any establishment primarily selling alcohol.
  • Colorado                                   18                                                           19
    Bartending requires a person of legal age behind the bar with you when pouring alcohol.  Due to the awkwardness imposed by the law, many establishments won’t hire those under 21.
  • Connecticut                              18                                                           18
    It is an offense to sell alcohol on Sunday.
  • District of Columbia               21                                                           18
    Underage drinking is a civil offense, carrying no lifetime criminal record
  • Delaware                                   21                                                           18
    It is a criminal offense for a person under 21 years of age to enter or remain on the premises of a tavern, taproom, or liquor store unless segregated from those over 21 years of age.  Any age may enter an alcohol-serving restaurant until 9 p.m., whereupon they can be refused entry without a parent or legal guardian.
  • Florida                                        18                                                           18
  • Georgia                                       18                                                           18
  • Hawaii                                        18                                                           18
  • Idaho                                          19                                                           19
  • Illinois                                        18                                                           18
    … unless increased to age 19, 20, or 21 by local ordinance.  Check first.
  • Indiana                                       21 (18 with restrictions) **               19
    There are many restrictions.  See:
  • Iowa                                            18                                                           18
    It is illegal to run a tab in Iowa.
  • Kansas                                        21                                                           18
    Kansas still has not ratified the 21st Amendment, which ended nationwide prohibition in 1933.  It has the strictest alcohol regulation in the U.S.
  • Kentucky                                    21 (20 with restrictions) **              19
  • Louisiana                                   18                                                           18
    Louisiana law prohibits bars and restaurants from displaying any alcohol beverage brand name that can be seen from outside the establishment. Children aged 18 may drink alcohol if the beverage is ordered on their behalf by their parents, but age 21 if on their own.
  • Maine                                          18                                                           17 (adult supervision required)
  • Maryland                                    18                                                           18
    Maryland decriminalized possession and consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21.  Parents are specifically prohibited from serving alcohol to their minor children.
  • Massachusetts                           18                                                           18
  • Michigan                                     18                                                           18
    It’s illegal in Michigan for a person under the age of 21 to give a gift of alcohol beverage to anyone, even to a person of legal age.  A 20-year-old non-drinking patron cannot “send over a drink” to another patron.
  • Minnesota                                   18                                                           18
  • Mississippi                                  21                                                           18
  • Missouri                                       21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
  • Montana                                      18                                                           18
    Labor and Industry statute 39-2-306, MCA, states bartenders and waiters or waitresses must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Nebraska                                      19                                                           19
    Nebraska state law prohibits bars from selling beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.
  • Nevada                                          21                                                           21
  • New Hampshire                          18                                                           18
  • New Jersey                                   18                                                           18
  • New Mexico                                 21                                                           19
    All bar employees must be 21.  Servers may be 19 in restaurants with state-issued permit.




  • New York                                      18                                                           18
  • North Carolina                             21 (spirits) 18 (Beer/Wine)              18
  • North Dakota                               21                                                           19 (adult supervision required)
    North Dakota prohibits serving beer and pretzels simultaneously in any bar or restaurant.
  • Ohio                                               21                                                           19
    Avoid aquariums, or keep their lids locked, as it is illegal in Ohio to get a fish drunk.
  • Oklahoma                                     21                                                           18
    Beer with more than 4% alcohol must be served at room temperature.
  • Oregon                                          21                                                           18
    If you are 18, 19, or 20 years old, you can get a minor service permit and then you may serve, pour, and draw alcoholic beverages only in areas of the business not prohibited to minors where alcohol service is secondary to food service.  You may not mix drinks nor work as a bartender or cocktail server.
  • Pennsylvania                               18                                                           18
  • Rhode Island                               18                                                           18
  • South Carolina                            21                                                           18
  • South Dakota                              18                                                           18
  • Tennessee                                    18                                                           18
  • Texas                                            18                                                           18
    Texas state law prohibits taking more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.
  • Utah                                               21                                                           21
    No patron may have more than two drinks of 2 ½ ounces (total) of liquor in front of them at one time, or more than one liter of beer.  A two liter beer pitcher must be shared by at least two patrons.  Drinks must be poured out of sight of non-drinking patrons to minimize temptation.
  • Vermont                                        18                                                           18
  • Virginia                                         21                                                           18
  • Washington                                  21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
    Anyone serving alcohol in Washington must take an approved MAST alcohol course and be in possession of either a class 12 permit or a class 13 permit to serve alcohol in licensed premises.
  • West Virginia                               21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
    In West Virginia, bars can advertise alcohol beverage prices, but not brand names.
  • Wisconsin                                     18 (State license required)                18
    In Wisconsin, an adult under the age of 21 who is married to one age 21 or older can legally drink with his or her spouse.
  • Wyoming                                       21                                                           18
    It is illegal for women to stand within five feet of a bar while drinking.

** Note: There must be a legal-age manager or supervisor present when the underage person is tending bar and/or that the underage bartender must undergo beverage server training beyond that otherwise mandated in the state.

Glass Rimmer & Rimming for Bartenders

Presentation is half the battle


If you serve something like this, you’re not getting a tip. No matter how good it tastes, it’s just filthy looking, unattractive and no one’s going to want to have anything to do with it.  Of course that’s not true strictly speaking.  This would be suitable for a zombie theme party, and looks appropriately awful. 

Sewer water

  • 1 oz. chocolate vodka
  • 1 oz. whipped cream vodka
  • 6 oz. ginger ale
  • A few drops of Godiva (for “murk”)
  • Some Oreo cookie crumbs
  • A brown or black straw

by Bartender Dave C. from Hamilton

You may or may not be comfortable being thought of as an artist, but the business of bartending is approximately 50% knowledge and 50% creativity.   Granted it’s not the same as an oil painter setting up a canvas and painstakingly recreating a meadow; it may be more akin to a painter working the tourist trade on the sidewalk, cranking out a landscape every 15 minutes, but it is art nevertheless.


Bartenders are familiar with Garnish & Garbage.  For newbies, Garnish is something you add to a drink to enhance the flavor; Garbage is something you add to a drink for a visual effect.  In the former category you find cherries, olives, citrus of all types, and herbs.  The latter category includes paper umbrellas, swizzle sticks, and ornamental fruit.

There is one element that crosses both categories: rimming.  Adding something to the rim of the glass can make a drink look delicious but have no real effect on the flavor, but with smart selections it can really enhance the flavor of the cocktail.

Some bartenders choose to prep there glassware in advance.  You can do this for your home if you’re having a party.  Pre-rimmed glasses not only save you time, but make a great looking display for your guests to admire.

Making it stick

You can use all sorts of things to get something to adhere to a rim.  These could include:

  • Simple syrup
  • Gomme syrup
  • maple syrup
  • lime, orange or lemon juice
  • caramel or chocolate sauce
  • Marshmallow Crème
  • and in rare cases, water

Water is generally not used because it dries too quickly. On rare occasions water can be used when using very finely powdered substances, such as powered sugar and finely ground spice items.  In most cases you’ll want something that is very sticky and that wont dry too quickly.  Citrus juices from oragnges, lemons – and most used – limes are the best to use when rimming.


3quarter rim

Some people prefer to do the whole rim, while others do half rims or three quarter rims.  Partial rimming is great because then the client has the choice of drinking the cocktail with or without the enhanced flavors.

What do you Rim With?

If you’re ready to move beyond plain salt and sugar, you can use anything that complements the flavor of the liquor in the drink.  It is only limited by your imagination and your personal tastes.

There are colorful sugars, which work just fine but there also flavored salts and sugars which can give your drink an extra kick.

Advanced materials you may want to consider:

  • Wasabi sugar or wasabi salt for hot and spicy drinks
  • Jell-O powder and Kool-Aid powder are interesting variations for novelty drinks
  • Salt & Pepper, celery salt or celery pepper for the Bloody Mary and Bloody Cæsar
  • Ginger sugar
  • Vanilla sugar
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Gingerbread spice and similar for enhancing eggnog and seasonal drinks
  • Powdered chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, and ground coconut for sweet or tropical drinks
  • and when Santa is in town, crushed candy cane secured with Marshmallow Crème is the seasonal choice.

Feel free to synthesize your own creations to please yourself and impress your guests.

The Tools

Glass Rimmers


The most basic rimmer has two tiers, however, these rimmers come in up to five-tier models, for the more adventurous.  The first tier usually  has a sponge pad which you place the lime juice in, and the second tier usually contains Kosher salt.

Rimming tray


Some prefer just a simple long narrow tray.  Using the tray is best when doing the Partial rim technique.

Use a plate


At home you don’t even need to get that fancy – just use a plate!  Some glasses can be large so just use the appropriate size.

Fancy Toys

For the extravagant among us, there are actual devices, such as The Barmaid Rimmer.  With a click of a button as you rotate the glass, you can easily rim your cocktail even after you have already placed the contents inside!  If you’re forgetful this could be for you.


For those that use Glass Rimmers with a lime juice sponge, they’re generally in a hurry at a busy bar.  Finesse is generally out of the question.  Basically it involves pressing straight down on the sponge with the inverted glass, then pressing the glass straight down in the rimmer substance.  Doing it this way can let the substance fall into the drink, therefore, changing the flavor.

Alternate technique

Changing your technique slightly can avoid the issue of accidentally changing the flavor of a cocktail.  It may take more time, but it will give the customer a better experience when they sip their drink.

You can use a piece of fruit – lime – and wet only the outside of the glass, that way the salt or sugar sticks only to the outside and won’t fall into that drink.

The reverse can be done as well – wetting only the inside of the glass.  This is done when a cocktails calls for a caramelized rim.  To do this, you rim the inside of the glass with sugar then use a Bacardi 151 float and set is ablaze.

Making Your Own Rimmers

If you want to make custom rimmers with herbs such as rosemary, you are out of luck for an automated process.  You’re going to have to bunch it up and chop it into tiny, tiny pieces, all by hand.  In a ratio of 1:5 with salt, this makes a very good rimmer…but it must be minuscule pieces to adhere.

If you want to use something like mint, it is best to lay out a large number of sprigs on a dinner plate and microwave it for about 30 seconds.  Repeat if necessary, running no more than 30 seconds at a time, until the leaves crumble easily.  Mix 1:4 with sugar for a very tasty rimmer.  This is perfect for Mint Juleps.

For a really impressive surprise, obtain any freeze-dried fruit such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, or apples, and put them through your spice grinder or coffee mill.  Blend that 1:2 with sugar, or use it straight for really intense flavor.

In much the same way you can make cinnamon sugar, ginger sugar, Cayenne sugar, Cayenne salt, or nutmeg sugar.  Use your imagination.

Common Rimmed Cocktails

  • The Margarita unless specified, takes salt.
  • The Lemon Drop  always has a sugared rim.
  • The Bloody Mary takes a slated rim.
  • Although primarily found in Canada where 350,000,000 are served every year, the Bloody Cæsar can have a variety of rims, from salt, celery pepper and salt, or regular salt & pepper.
  • The Peppermint Alexander takes…well crushed peppermint flavored candy cane!
  • Spiced Eggnog can also have a variety of rims, including cinnamon and nutmeg sugar

Ultimately It’s Up to You…

If the idea of crushing 10 plain potato chips into your shaker with ice, 2 ounces of tomato juice, 2 ounces of vodka, a dash of Cayenne and a dash of Worcestershire sauce sounds like it would go great, double-strained, in a glass with a rim made from vinegar and salt, then do it.  Who said there’s any rule against having a drink that tastes like a BBQ version of salt and vinegar potato chips with ketchup?  It’s all up to you.

Want to learn more about glass rimming and bartending?

Bartender Resume: Get a Bartending Job With This Simple Resume Guide


The best bartending schools are the ones that also help you find a job. As you know, finding a job is highly dependent on your bartender resume. Without a proper resume, you will not even have a chance for an interview. Its like showing up to play football without the ball.

We have put together a playbook to building your bartender resume that will help you in your job search even if you didn’t go to bartending school. Remember, every graduate of American Bartenders School gets hands on resume help and taught proper interviewing techniques.

Before we start…

One quick note before you dive in is that you must be 18 years of age to sell or serve alcohol in NY state. Unfortunately, if you are any younger, there really is no reason to apply for a job because the bar manager cannot legally let you serve even if you are the greatest bartender of all time.


1. Bartender Resume Template: Choose Wisely

The template and design of a resume is very important. A clean and simple layout helps organize your information and enhances readability.

According to an article from Mashable about resumes, “Visual design is a great way to differentiate yourself from other job candidates,” says Dodd Caldwell, cofounder of Loft Resumes. “Design in general is increasingly important in the business world.”

While you may be thinking, their article is mainly speaking to the business world, these practices of good resume design should be applied to any business, bartending included.

So, first step is to choose a nice layout. Here are two super easy and painless options.

Option #1: Microsoft Word Template

When starting up Microsoft Word, simply choose New Document and pick one of the Resume Templates, like these pictured below:

Bartender Resume - microsoft word

Option #2: Free Templates

If you don’t have access to Microsoft Word, try heading over to ResumeGenius to download some free templates. Then click on the Download Classic Template Pack link. Then, simply open the files in Google Drive or any other word processing software like Pages for Mac or any other of these free software choices such as OpenOffice.

Bartender Resume - ResumeGenius

2. Bartender Resume Header: Lead Strong

One of the most important parts of a resume that often gets overlooked by the job-searching bartender is the header. You are the star of this show, make sure everyone knows it. This is arguably the most important part because if you do not have all of the proper information, you risk not getting called in for an interview.

According to an eye-tracking study from The Ladders, recruiters spent 80% of their time looking at six points:

  • Name
  • Current title and company
  • Previous title and company
  • Current start and end dates
  • Previous start and end dates
  • Education

Don’t worry about all of the other points just yet, we want to focus on the first one, the name. Jeffrey Morganthaler, bartender, blogger, author and mixologist says: “I see a lot of resumes in my position, and you’d be surprised at just how many people leave resumes with no contact information.”

So, always start with your name in a nice, bold, eye-catching font. Then be sure to include your phone number, mailing address, and valid email address. Double check that you have input everything correctly. Then when you are finished, double check again! You want to give people as many options as you can for contacting you. The more options, the more likely they are to contact you.

bartender resume - header

3. Bartender Resume Special Skills

This is your time to show off. You want to list your skills here in nice, clean bullet points. You can break them up into specific types of skills, technology (point of sale systems, and computers), language, and bartending.


This is something you should list. Although every bar has their own way of configuring a point of sale system, or P.O.S., they are all very similar. It is important that you show that you know how to operate one in general even if you have to relearn a new way of doing it once you get the job at a particular bar.

If you have taken bartender classes at a bartending school like American Bartenders School, you will have learned how to operate the Harbortouch Point of Sale system. You should definitely include this in the special skills section.

bartender resume - harbortouch

Here are some other technology skills that you may have but not even realize are valuable in the bartending industry:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Windows/Mac proficiency
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)*

*Quick note about Social Media as a Bartender

Social Media has changed the way that business works in the world. If a bar has a strong social media following, it is usually taking advantage of it by sending out special notices like happy hour deals or posts pictures of guests having a good time. The same goes for a bartender with a strong social media following. If you can build a strong rapport with guests online, they may come back to visit you in person at a bar. That is something that a bar manager would like to know and would take into consideration when hiring.

The site ShakeandStrain notes that …“For a bar manager, you’re not just hiring (a bartender’s) talent but you’re hiring actual sales. In this case, a large social media following changes the calculus on both sides of that relationship.”


If you know a second language in New York City, you are at a big advantage in the workplace and should definitely list it.

51% of New Yorkers speak only English at home. This leaves 49% of the population. So what does everyone else speak? Here is a little breakdown from WNYC on the many languages of NYC.

Bartending Skills and Certifications


Here, you want to focus on a few very important things. These are also part of our 15 Step Guide to Getting a Bartending Job.

(Remember them easily with this C.U.P.)

– Control the bar – Your ability to control the bar and expedite in an orderly fashion will keep customers (and bar managers) happy.

– Upselling  – Upselling according to Wikipedia is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.”

So in bartending, this is the art of getting customers to buy something more than they ordered. This is something that you will learn in any bartending school, especially American Bartenders School.

– Pour Cost – Being aware of the pour cost shows your employer that you will NOT over pour drinks. That means less money going down the drain (literally.)


If you have any special certifications, you will want to list them here. Now remember, there is NO such requirement by law for a bartender to have a bartending license here in New York City.

There are, however, some other things that particular bars ask of their bartenders to help protect themselves from legal trouble. Some bar owners purchase Liquor Liability Insurance to help cover them, but insurance companies often tell bar owners to also get their workers trained in an awareness program of some sort.

Here are some things you may want to list if you have them:

  • Alcohol Training and Awareness Program (ATAP)
  • TIPS Certification
  • ServSafe Alcohol



4. Bartender Resume Work Experience: Be A Show Off

This is a very important part of your resume, and it is where you want to be a show off. It’s OK to showboat a bit and let them be wowed by your work so far.

Don’t shy away here if you haven’t had any work experience in a bar, however, because we know that isn’t a deal breaker for getting a job as a bartender. Of course, you will always want to go to bartending school. You can sign up here if you are interested.

We have broken this up into two easy sections.

You have work experience bartending in a Restaurant or Bar (if not you can skip ahead)

If you have experience, you want to clearly state your job title, the name of the establishment, the city/state, and the dates that you worked:

Bartender, The Wayland, New York City  May 2008 – July 2009

  • (list responsibilities here)

Bartender, Summit Bar, New York City August 2009 – August 2011

  • (list responsibilities here)

Then, beneath the job, you want to provide a description of your responsibilities, as well as the skills that you utilized and developed. Sometimes it is nice to show off as stated in Break Into Bartending, but remember that the bar manager is going to ask you about anything that is stated on your resume, so don’t lie. If you created a drink or post to their social media nightly, you should mention it.

You want to give a sense of the type of job in a few simple bullet points. Keep your list to three or four at the most.

  • Supervised and scheduled bartenders and servers
  • Responsible for inventory, stocking, ordering and sanitation of bar
  • Interviewed, hired and trained all new bartenders and servers

You don’t have work experience bartending in a Restaurant or Bar:

The key to a good resume is highlighting the skills that a bar manager wants in a bartender. If you don’t have experience bartending yet, here are some really important skills that you will learn at a bartending school.

When displaying your information, you want it to read the same way. Position, Name of Establishment, Location   DATES WORKED

Server, Houlihan’s, Newark, NJ  May 2008 – July 2009

  • (list responsibilities here)

Either way, looking at your work history, you should highlight these types of jobs:


  • Bar-Backing – This is an important one, because it clearly shows that you have worked at a bar and understand how the job works.
  • Restaurant Host/Hostess – This displays that you can handle the flow of customers even on a busy night and that you have been part of the industry. You might have also used a P.O.S. system.
  • Food Service – (McDonalds, Starbucks, other fast food) – Much like a restaurant server, you might have experience using a P.O.S. system, you have experience serving customers and dealing with them.
  • Customer Service Jobs – Any consumer facing job where you have to talk to a customer and show that you will keep your cool when the going gets tough is very important as a bartender.
  • Finance – Bartenders deal with money constantly. If you have the skills to help out with the books behind the scenes, that may be one extra skill that sets you apart from the rest of the bartending candidates.
  • Performers – It is not uncommon for actors to work as bartenders in their downtime. Most actors are great with interacting with people and really ‘put on a show’ behind the bar. This helps make friends, wow customers, and keep everyone coming back for more.

You want to give a sense of the type of job in a few simple bullet points. Keep your list to three or four at the most.

5. Bartender Resume Education Section

When listing your education, you should lead with the most relevant portion, like bartending school. If you haven’t been to bartending school, simply start by listing your highest level of education.

You should list the name, city, the year date you graduated, and feel free to list any achievements such as a high GPA or any awards which may show off your academic prowess. You don’t have to be a genius to be a bartender, but you have to show that you care about your education enough to finish it. If you haven’t finished school yet, consider going to bartending school to help bolster your resume.

In terms of format for this section, nothing fancy here. Just follow the same guidelines:


6. Bartender Resume References

People are on the fence on this one for whether or not to include references. In fact, Quint Careers thinks that you should never list them on your resume, but that you should have them on a separate page. Sometimes a bar manager is just too busy to check your references even if you provide them. Others may ask you for them if you don’t provide them.

The fact of the matter is, as you begin your professional career, you are going to want to start gaining a few contacts that can vouch for your character. They don’t all have to be your boss or supervisors. Think about teachers or coaches. No matter what, it is always important to REQUEST THEIR PERMISSION and KEEP THEM INFORMED.



Requesting Permission

In either an email or a phone call, keep it short and to the point. Ask your reference if it is OK to list them as a reference. Then ask if their preferred mode of contact – email or phone.

Keep them Informed

If you are applying somewhere and you expect your reference to be contacted, give them a heads up. They should be prepared to receive a call and to speak about you. If need be, give them a quick background on your previous work together and some details on the job for which you are applying.

Next Steps…

The next steps are going to be actually contacting places to work. The full list can be found here in our 15 Extremely Simple Steps to becoming a bartender. This outlines the legwork (figuratively and literally) that you will have to do to get your resume to the right hands.

Or sign up for American Bartenders School and our job placement team will help you set up your resume personally and prepare for your interview like a champ.

Drinks of the Mafia [Our Interview with Linda Scarpa]

We had the honor of talking with Linda Scarpa, author of “The Mafia Hit Man’s Daughter”, a memoir about growing up in Brooklyn with her father Greg Scarpa. Known as the Colombo family’s ‘Grim Reaper’, her father Greg was a made man but also FBI informant.

It came out December 29th and is available for purchase here. Check out her Facebook page here.


The book is an amazing read and we highly recommend that you pick it up immediately. When we talked to Linda, we were obviously most interested in what her father and his crew drank. Since she grew up with this culture around her, she helped provide an inside look at the favorite cocktails and drinks of the mob.

One thing that she said really resonated with us, “If they liked a particular drink that’s what they drank; they really didn’t switch off.” As a bartender, you find that some people like to order the same thing every time. If you remember it for the next time that they show up, you will keep them coming back.


When it came to drinks, her father and crew seemed to prefer scotch. According to Linda, “My father’s crew typically drank Cutty Sark scotch, Johnny Walker Black and Johnny Walker Red scotch.”

Cutty Sark is a scotch produced in Glasgow and named after a famous clipper ship of the same name.(All scotch comes from Scotland, remember?) Its classic green bottle with yellow label is a mainstay at most bars.

Johnny Walker Black and Johnny Walker Red are both blended scotch whiskys that you will find at most bars. Both are 80 proof and reasonably priced. Apparently Johnny Walker Red was also the favorite drink of Winston Churchill and Dick Cheney.

“At the bars they would usually drink Absolut and scotch, as well as martinis dry, extra olive or dirty martinis, rum and Coke, Bacardi, and scotch on the rocks.” These are classic drinks that all of our students learn how to make and master at American Bartenders School.

Linda's father with his crew. From left, Robert “Bobby Zam” Zambardi, unknown, Joseph “Joe Brewster” DeDomenico.Linda’s father with his crew. From left, Robert “Bobby Zam” Zambardi, unknown, Joseph “Joe Brewster” DeDomenico.


Holiday Drinks

“During the holidays they liked to drink Grand Marnier.”

An orange cognac liqueur, it is made from distilled cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. This is another iconic bottle that you will see in most bars. Grand Marnier can be ordered neat, but it is also a great addition to cocktails like a Cosmopolitan or even a Margarita. Interested in some more holiday drinks? Check out our Holiday Shots Guide.
During holidays or other special occasions, they “gave gifts of liquor baskets filled with liquor and cookies and fruit. Those baskets were huge.”


“Their champagne of choice was Dom Perignon.”

The most famous brand of champagne, Dom Perignon, is a sparkling wine named after a Benedictine monk named (you guessed it) Dom Perignon. It is a mixture of Pinot noir grapes and Chardonnay grapes and has a very unique taste. Dom is one of the most expensive and prestigious champagnes, a case once sold for over $100,000 at an auction.

Champagne is also a mainstay of New Year’s Eve.


After Dinner Drinks

“After dinner, they drank anisette or sambuca straight or in black coffee.”
Sambuca is an Italian, anise-flavored, clear liqueur. It pairs wonderfully with coffee for an Italian-spin on the Irish Coffee. Some bars like to serve it neat with a few coffee beans in the drink. If you want to be precise, you should put seven coffee beans, representing the Seven hills of Rome.

“Another drink they loved consisted of white creme de cacao, sloe gin; brandy and light cream.” The recipe can be found below:

1/4 oz white creme de cacao
1/4 oz sloe gin
1/4 oz brandy
1/4 oz light cream


Pour ingredients carefully, in order given, into a pousse cafe glass so that they do not mix.

So, now that you’ve gotten an inside look at the drinks of the mob, get the full experience by enjoying one of the drinks while reading Linda’s new book, The Mafia Hit Man’s Daughter.