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How To Hire Bar Staff: A Bar Staffing Guide

September 13, 2021 by The Cocktail Service

How do you hire bar staff? What are the different types of bar staff?

Read our ultimate bar staffing guide to discover more about the types of bar staff you can hire, and their key roles and responsibilities.

Make your next event the best one yet with help from The Cocktail Service.

What different kinds of bar staff are there?

The main types of bar staffing jobs are as follows:

A mixologist
Flair bartender

What is the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?

A bartender pours a cocktail from a cocktail shaker into a coupe glass

A bartender’s job has a heavy focus on customer service and making cocktails, whereas a mixologist focuses on cocktail curation, design and development.

Many people may think that a cocktail bartender or private event bartender and a mixologist refer to the same job. In fact, there are several key differences between a bartender and a mixologist.

Both roles are important to the successful running of a bar, but both are bath staffing jobs that have different responsibilities and duties.

What is the difference between bartending and mixology?

A bartender pours wine into a glass

Bartending refers to any jobs focusing on tending the bar and tending to a customer’s needs.

Mixology, meanwhile, is a skillset specifically focused on developing, designing, creating and curating original cocktails, aligning with a particular brief, brand identity, event or establishment.

What does a bartender do?

A cocktail bartender’s roles and responsibilities mainly involve working at the cocktail bar, making classic cocktails and house specialities, and most importantly, interacting with the customers.

A bartender will serve drinks to customers, as well as quickly and confidently manage any customer complaints of customer-based issues that arise on an evening.

An event bartender will also help manage bar stock and maintain the register and has a stronger focus on customer service.

Can you hire a bartender?

A bartender pouring pints

You can hire a cocktail bartender for a bespoke event easily.

The Cocktail Service is a bar staffing agency that specialises in private bespoke events.

Whether you are hiring a bartender for a private event, or are looking for mixologist hire, our trained staff can bring your event to life.

Click here to hire a cocktail bartender today

List of bartender duties and responsibilities

  • Welcoming customers at the bar area
  • Ensuring customers are comfortable and happy
  • Recommend certain cocktails and offer expertise and suggestions
  • Fulfil drink orders and deliver cocktails promptly and professionally
  • Keep the bar clean and well-stocked
  • Dealing with drinks payments
  • Keep up to date with the latest drink trends
  • Age-check customers where appropriate
  • Be aware of company policies and procedures in case of emergency
  • Overall, they should also know the essential bartender tools.

What does a mixologist do?

A mixologist serving a cocktail

A mixologist is responsible for the creation and development of specialist craft cocktails.

These may be bespoke cocktails developed for a certain venue, one-off event or particular season. A mixologist is far less involved in the day-to-day running of a bar and will spend time using their extensive knowledge of cocktails to design and innovate original cocktails for a specific brief.

They will occasionally work behind the bar alongside the cocktail bartender, but their main job is significantly behind the scenes.

A mixologist will be briefed on a list of drinks they need to create, and works to ensure the new mixes align with the vision of the brief.

Click here to learn more about mixologist hire

Mixologist’s roles and responsibilities

Mixologists will often put their own twist on a classic drink, reinventing and refreshing the cocktail to be associated with a certain brand or event.

Mixologists push the boundaries of cocktail making, are innovative and original, and are incredibly well-versed in the cocktail making process and industry as a whole.

Mixologists will often work for a variety of bars and restaurants as opposed to working solely for one bar during a season, and keep up with cocktail industry trends and developments.

They are incredibly knowledgeable about the history and evolution of cocktails, and utilise this knowledge when developing original cocktails, or creating their own twist on a classic cocktail.

What is a flair bartender?

A flair bartender juggles spirit bottles behind his back

A flair bartender is a trained bartender with additional skills to dazzle, entertain and excite guests while making cocktails.

Flair bartenders will often use bar staff skills associated with juggling, and tricks involving fire, throwing and catching.

Flair bartenders also often use bar tools such as shakers and bottles as part of their routine, performing tricks while delivering a cocktail.

Flair bartending will often involve the creation of theatrical cocktails, that involve fire, smoke and molecular gastronomy.

Molecular mixology has become a popular trend for bar staff in recent years, with bars and restaurants offering theatrical experiences and creative, visually extravagant cocktails.

Molecular mixology uses the equipment and techniques of molecular gastronomy, using particular flavours and infusions with items such as blowtorches, distillation, and reduction.

Book flair staffing for your own event with The Cocktail Service

What is a bar back?

A bar back unpacks spirits onto the bar

Occasionally, a bar will have a bar back, which is a specific bar staffing role that focuses on supporting the bartender and ensuring a bar is well stocked and prepared for a busy night of service.

Their role is to help ensure a bartender has everything they need during service. This includes clean glasses, ice cubes, fresh garnishes, and enough spirits, liquor and beer.

Barbacks are also responsible for ensuring a service are is clean, tidy and free of spills.

Along with other members of the bar staff team, barbacks are also responsible for cleaning table areas, cleaning away empty glasses and cleaning spills.

A barback may also help prepare a bar for service by restocking a bar following a shift, track inventory levels, and keep the bar stocked at all times.

At what point can one call themselves a mixologist?

A mixologist will usually have several years of experience in the industry and have impeccable knowledge of the history of cocktails and the evolution of the cocktail craft.

Whilst many start out in the industry in entry level roles and then work their way up, you might want to consider a certification like the ones provided by the European Bartender School to bolster your bartending CV.

The Cocktail Service is an established bar staffing agency with years of experience in curating bespoke events.

We specialise in cocktail curation with cocktail bartenders for hire to help you create an unforgettable event.

Get in contact with our team today to start your journey


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