Hard work, responsibility, creativity, and personality—bartending involves a lot more than just serving drinks to patrons. Successful bartenders must be able to establish instant rapport with multiple customers, memorize recipes for hundreds of cocktails, and even dream up new creations of their own—all while keeping the bar area clean, organized, and stocked for business. It’s not an easy job nor a consistently well-paying one, but it can open the door to other opportunities if you’re willing to put in the time. Consider these five jobs you’re likely qualified for after spending a few years as a bartender.
1. Brand Sales Representative
Brand sales representatives work directly with liquor producers—from breweries and distilleries to wineries. These professionals are generally responsible for working with the company’s distributors to ensure orders are received and filled correctly as well as helping to develop the company’s presence at restaurants, bars, and liquor stores. This includes working with wholesaler representatives, communicating promotions, and conducting wait staff/bartender education events and beer tastings. They may also assist the company’s marketing department in identifying new opportunities and developing distribution expansion plans. One to three years of experience in the food and beverage industry is generally required as well as a confident personality and excellent communications skills.
2. Cocktail Caterer
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to start your own business, you might consider establishing yourself as a cocktail caterer. Much like food caterers, these professionals are hired to work during corporate events, weddings, and other special occasions. Depending on the client, they may provide a simple beer and wine bar, a fully stocked cocktail bar, or craft signature creations specifically for the event. Some cocktail caterers branch out into full-service cocktail party catering and event design as well.
After you’ve learned everything you can as a bartender—both out front and behind the scenes—you may find yourself qualified to become a bar or restaurant general manager. General managers direct and oversee all bar and/or restaurant operations including hiring staff, managing staff, setting product and service standards, maintaining operating efficiency, and more. Successful general managers are passionate about hospitality, excellent communicators, proactive problem solvers, and effective mentors. They must also understand budgeting, profit and loss, sales reporting, and inventory processes. While some employers prefer hiring general managers with BS degrees in hotel/restaurant management, many will consider practical experience as an alternative.
4. Liquor Sales Representative
Liquor sales representatives work for liquor distributors whose client portfolios include breweries, distilleries, and wineries. These professionals are generally assigned geographical territory and expected to sell products from the company’s portfolio to bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other retailers within it. Their duties may include meeting sales goals, completing sales-related reports, making sales presentations, analyzing sales trends, and investigating customer concerns and complaints. They may also be responsible for distributing point of sale materials and creating product displays at retail establishments. Excellent communication skills, a high level of commitment, and several years of liquor sales experience is usually required.
5. Wine and Spirits Merchandiser
Merchandisers generally work for liquor distributors. They are responsible for visiting retail accounts to ensure the distributor’s products are displayed effectively, inventory levels are adequate, and the brands are represented positively. These professionals may build displays and stock shelves and coolers after deliveries are made as well as check product dates and rotate it as necessary. No formal education is required for most merchandiser positions. Employers generally look for candidates with liquor industry experience who are able to work independently, juggle multiple priorities and communicate professionally.