Hotel vs. Restaurant Bartenders
Deb Ward / JUNE 07 2021

Whether you’re working in a hotel or a restaurant, bartenders are making and dispensing drinks directly to guests at their bars, while supplying the serving staff with orders from individual tables. The basics are the same and you can learn those by taking courses from a bartending or hospitality program. The most important piece of being successful, though, is a special personality and an ability to communicate and engage with your customers.

The job can be fun and creative; crafting new recipes and combinations, but it also means being social, having “flair” and showing some “moves” behind the bar. The customer is often alone at the bar and looking for some interaction, especially in a hotel setting. You should be able to mix a drink while carrying on a conversation. 

The Hotel Bar 

This is often a more formal experience. The bar itself is usually stocked and set up for you and the operating hours are quite long… it may open as early as 11 am. Hotel bars may also have a dress code or a uniform requirement. Another important difference, hotel bartenders will likely be less concerned with the sobriety of their patrons since those customers are simply taking the elevator or walking to their rooms after a few drinks.

Hotel bartenders also work banquets and large meetings where they are serving drinks for a specific function. In that case, you’ll be selecting the required stock from the main bar and perhaps using controlled, brand-wide selections or creating a corporate signature drink.

Large hotels like Omni and Hilton change their drink menus seasonally and may follow themes during the holidays or special occasions. Drinks can also be crafted to showcase their city or region.

The Restaurant Bar 

These are often more casual with an “anything goes” dress code and the chance to build ongoing relationships with regular customers. You will likely be responsible for setting up the bar, have shifts that start late in the afternoon (instead of the morning opening), and run until late at night. You will be responsible for verifying the age of your patrons and monitoring their sobriety for safety when they leave the bar.

Stay on top of the latest trends and arm yourself with new ideas to test. No matter how great you are at mixing, there’s always more to learn. At a restaurant, you’ll need to be an excellent multi-tasker since people with be eating and drinking at the bar. You have to get the drinks out quickly, serve food and keep an eye on the timing. 

In the past, the bar was used as a waiting area to get to the restaurant and be seated. Now, the bar is a destination in itself and has become a grown-up game room or a place to hang out. It’s more than just a place to order drinks.

The Future of Bars It is always evolving. Will drinks be delivered by robots? Most experts agree that bartenders are not going away. Guests want to be entertained and engaged. People want to strike up a conversation with the bartender or the person sitting nearby. It’s a social place that can be automated in some ways, but the human bartender is here to stay.

“No proof” is a new trend that involves creating drinks with no alcohol. These are not “mocktails,” but a unique creation that still offers a great experience in a bar setting. Other trends that are happening are savory drinks that may be infused with beets, mushrooms, or cheese. Fermented syrups and tonics made from probiotic ingredients, hard seltzers infused with fruit, and the use of unique spices such saffron, curry, and cardamom are just a few of the new discoveries being made by bartenders.