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How To Become a Bartender in NYC

bartender nyc

Is becoming a Bartender in NYC different than becoming a Bartender in any other U.S. city? The short answer is yes. In this article, we will cover all the important topics if you want to become a Bartender in New York City.

If you already decided to pursue a Bartender career in NYC here are a couple of reasons to enhance your motivation. Serving alcohol in the Big Apple is lucrative and exciting.

The question is: Do you have everything it takes to become a bartender in New York City? The laws and regulations are different in every state. Let’s start by answering some of the big questions like:

  • Do you need a special certification to become a bartender in NYC?
  • Do you need a bartending license?

Basic NYC Bartending Requirements & How To Meet Them

If you’re starting your career as a Bartender in NYC, you first have to be aware of all the basic requirements for the role. This includes:

Age requirements

While the national drinking age is set at 21, the laws for serving alcoholic beverages vary on a state level. In New York, you can work as a Bartender once you’re 18.


Although this isn’t the case in all U.S. states, you don’t need a bartending license to serve alcohol in New York. However, you can still take a course and earn what’s called ATAP certification. ATAP or Alcohol Training Awareness Program focuses on legal responsibilities regarding alcohol service and sale. Earning this certification shows that you’ve received education on the topic in a state-approved school.

Some bartending schools in the city offer courses that include classroom training, teaching you important skills (mixing drinks and manipulating bar tools) and educating you on responsible alcohol service. Others focus only on the third point and typically take place online. Enroll in a state-approved school and you will receive your ATAP certification regardless of the course type.

tips logo for NYC

You can also earn your ATAP certification by becoming a TIPS-certified Bartender. TIPS is accepted nationwide and offers online courses for all U.S. states, including New York. The New York TIPS On Premise course is ATAP-compliant and approved by the New York State Liquor Authority.

Education and Training

In New York, it’s not mandatory to receive any type of formal education before getting hired. However, enrolling in a bartending school and having a high school diploma can help be helpful when pursuing a career as a Bartender.

Bartending school

You can opt for some of the top schools in NYC and learn key bartending skills establishments look for. This includes learning drink recipes, understanding bartending lingo, handling bar equipment and interacting with customers. Training in a bartending school can last from a few days to a few weeks.

High school diploma

There is no strict rule when it comes to formal education and Bartender roles. A high school diploma can help you land a job. It will testify to your basic math knowledge, which is necessary for the role.

Skills & Qualities a Bartender Needs in NYC

Skills and qualities required to become a Bartender in NYC or any other place in the world are similar. If you still haven’t honed the skills, you might want to start right away.

Bars, restaurants, hotels & other establishments prefer to hire people with previous knowledge of working behind a bar. It is harder for them to train you on the go. The key bartending skills they look for are:

  • Mixing drinks
  • Attending bartending tools
  • Customer service skills
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork
  • Cash handling
  • Ability to handle difficult alcohol-related situations

To hone the key skills, you can enroll in a bartending school or program. The important thing is that they offer classroom training. While theory is important, your practical skills are far more important.

You will get hands-on experience and knowledge about the hard liquors and raw materials used for cocktail preparation. These classes will cover the necessary bar equipment and give a basic overview of customer entertainment.

Every bartending class will help you learn how to responsibly serve alcohol and how to deal with intoxicated customers. As a Bartender professional, there will be situations where you will have to refuse to serve alcohol to people. You will also learn to de-escalate situations.

These programs often touch on handling money and working with other team members, but these are the skills you may already possess depending on your previous employment. You’ll also have to continuously work on them once you land your first job as a Bartender in NYC.

You will continue honing these skills while you work, and that is one of the pros of working as a Bartender. Initially you might follow existing cocktail recipes, but with time you will start developing your own creations. As a bartending professional, multitasking and customer service skills will be basic to you.

bartender mixing drinks

Tips on How To Network and Find Bartending Employment

If you choose a customer-facing role, we assume that you won’t question the importance of networking with fellow colleagues. Other Bartenders can help you advance in your career, and deal with difficult situations, and those are the people that for one are walking in your shoes and understand you completely. So, where can you find your peers? You can find your peers on social media groups, industry events and bartending competitions. You can also meet other bartenders and bar managers by simply visiting a new bar in your neighborhood or when you travel.

Tips for Landing a Bartending Job

Now that we have covered all the key skills you need to hone, let’s talk about the next steps of becoming a Bartender. Learning about mixology and other working behind the bars will help you meet the requirements for available positions in the city, but you have to present yourself effectively to potential employers. To do this, you’ll need two things:

  • Resume – Every job candidate needs a resume. Fill in information about your previous employment and add key resume skills for Bartenders you possess.
  • Cover letter – Having a compelling cover letter will help potential employers learn more about you and how you fit their teams. To write a good cover letter for the role of a Bartender summarize your previous bartending experience, highlight relevant skills and express enthusiasm about getting hired.

Once your application materials are ready, you can start looking for your first job in the role and kick off your bartending career.

Final Steps of Finding a Bartender Job

To help set you up for success, we’ve also listed some of the best-paying bartending positions in NYC. Although the more lucrative options might be tempting, we suggest you start with entry-level roles if you don’t have any previous bartending experience. To increase your chance of landing the job, you can always enroll in a school or program.

While looking for jobs you can also check the NYC bartender salary information and see if they align what you have envisioned to earn. Bartenders in NYC earn $58,050 a year, on average.

To help you prepare for the interview, have a friend or family member prepare a mockup interview. And to help you excel you don’t have to search the web for questions, you can simply give them the questions on our Bartender Interview Questions page. It goes without saying that we also prepare killer answers that will help you stand out from other job applicants.

With all these tips and tricks, you should land your next bartender role in no time. Once you start working as a Bartender don’t forget that it’s all about customer service. Continue honing your cocktail making skills and sharpen your food-drink pairing knowledge to succeed in your career.

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