Ask any young person what he wants to be when he grows up and chances are he won’t say he wants to be a bartender. That’s because when it comes to careers, people seldom think of making and pouring drinks as a viable profession.

However, being a bartender is a legitimate profession for many people and can even be lucrative in certain situations. However, it usually does take a certain type of person to be a bartender. Here are five qualities that the best bartenders either have or should have.

People Person

Let’s face it, if you’re a bartender you’re going to be required to have a lot of interaction with different types of people, so it will help immensely if you’re a people person. Most of us are familiar with the Hollywood-inspired stereotype of the bartender patiently listening to the problems, joys, and heartaches of patrons in whatever establishment they’re working in.

And there’s actually some truth to this stereotype. As a bartender, you’re not only expected to be the person who mixes and pours drinks for people, you’re also expected to be a willing ear for patrons to bend and to interact with them at their prompting when time allows. So if you’re not someone who likes chatting and interacting with strangers you might not make the best bartender.

Interest in Beverage Science

It’s easy to assume that being a bartender involves nothing more than knowing how to dispense beer from a tap. However, being a bartender entails more than just pouring drinks for customers. In part, this is because there is a science to drink-making. It’s called mixology, and it requires knowledge about the qualities and flavors of liqueurs, and how they taste in combination.

Drinks and drink combinations aren’t conjured out of thin air. Just as great food recipes have to be created so do great drinks recipes. It took the mind of a mixologist to create the Ramos Gin Fizz, a complex drink that is prepared with tools like cream chargers. And although not every bartender is a mixologist, every bartender needs to know something about the science in order to do their job well.

Good Memory

It may come as a surprise that having a good memory can be a big asset when working as a bartender, but it’s true. Bartenders have to memorize scores of different drinks and drink combinations in order for them to do their job well. It’s also helpful for bartenders to remember information related to pricing, supply levels, and menus if they want to be as efficient as possible.

A good memory, in general, is helpful for a bartender to have because it comes in handy when making an attempt to memorize customers’ names and different tidbits about their lives. And it’s also helpful when it comes to getting bigger tips. Every customer wants to feel special and as if they’ve been heard by someone when they share details about their lives.


A quality that might not be discussed much when speaking about bartenders but one that is an essential soft skill is patience. A bartender will sometimes be placed in stressful situations where people are thoughtless and inflexible. This is even more likely to be the case if the bartender is working in a high-energy, high-traffic environment or establishment.

A good bartender will be able to maintain his cool despite the craziness that is going on around him. This is because in many ways a bartender will be the one to set the tone of the bar. Patrons will often reflect the vibe that is being put out by the bartender. That vibe can even carry over into the overall atmosphere of the establishment.

Bartending might not be an obvious career choice for many people, but it’s a legitimate profession and can afford the right person a good living. It seems the best bartenders have certain qualities in common, including being a people person, having an interest in beverage science, a good memory, and a patient demeanor. Those qualities will take any person who feels like bartending is in their blood far. Being a bartender isn’t for everyone, but it’s the ideal profession for select individuals.