What Is a Beverage Server?

Beverage servers, sometimes referred to as bartenders or mixologists, prepare and serve drinks to patrons. Keep reading to explore the job duties of beverage servers, and find out where they typically work. Learn about education and training options in this field, as well as the salary potential. Schools offering Restaurant & Catering Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Beverage Server?

Beverage servers mix and serve drinks to customers. As a beverage server, your job duties may include handling inventory and cash. You will also be responsible for taking orders, pouring and serving drinks, cleaning and managing bar operations. You may work at a variety of food and drink establishments, including restaurants and bars.

Degree RequiredOn-the-job training, certificate
Key ResponsibilitiesMix and serve drinks, take orders, handle cash, keep track of inventory
Licensure RequirementsMay need food handling or alcohol serving license
Job Growth (2018-2028)*8% (for all bartenders)
Median Salary (2018)*$22,550 (for all bartenders)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Beverage Server?

Simply stated, beverage servers mix and pour alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In addition to knowing measurements and ingredients of cocktails, you'll need to have a discerning knowledge of local, domestic and imported wines and beers.

It'll be necessary to measure ingredients for drink recipes in exact amounts, and to combine liquor with soda, sugar, cream or fruit juices. You'll need to be able to handle large orders quickly, while staying mindful of inventory and waste. As a beverage server, it is your responsibility to ensure your customers are within legal drinking age and not over-intoxicated.

Depending where you work, you may use automatic mixing equipment. You'll need to possess some creativity, as well as cash-handling abilities. You'll be required to keep your work area clean, converse with patrons, maintain supplies and perform heavy lifting. Bartending can be a fast-paced and fun job, though legal restrictions and responsibilities also play a large role in the profession.

What Will My Work Environment Be Like?

Beverage servers work in casual dining and full-service restaurants, private clubs, cafes, taverns and hotels. You may provide private services to catered parties in a public setting or a client's residence. Because of the variable work environments, you could spend hours in a smoky and dim atmosphere, in an outdoor setting or within an exclusive club. You might be required to stand for long periods of time.

What Education Will I Need?

You might be able to find an employer that offers on-the-job training with experienced staff, though several community colleges and vocational schools offer technical training through bartending certificate programs. In addition to being trained in local and state laws, you'll acquire specific product knowledge, learn quick preparation procedures and master the art of mixology, organization and people skills. Some programs include relevant certification testing for bartenders, managers and any professional that serves alcoholic beverages.

What Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated the overall median salary for bartenders was $22,550 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). During that time period, the BLS provided specific wages based on industry and location, reporting that the majority of bartenders and mixologists worked in dining establishments and bars, earning an average of $27,940 and $25,230, respectively.

Workers in Hawaii, District of Columbia, Vermont, Washington and New York were offered the greatest compensation, which totalled more than $34,000 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other careers in dining establishments that offer on-the-job training include those of food and beverage serving workers, waiters and waitresses, and food preparation workers. Food and beverage serving workers are typically responsible for taking orders, preparing and serving food and drinks and cleaning. Food preparation workers may perform similar duties to food and beverage serving workers, including taking orders and preparing food. Waitresses and waiters take orders and serve food and drinks.

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