Bartending isn't as easy as it looks -- behind every great bartender is a great "bar back." A bar back works as a bartender's apprentice or assistant. Much like a food runner assists a waiter, a bar back is responsible for making sure that the bar is fully stocked and prepared for a night's service and that a bartender has everything he or she may need to mix drinks all night long.
A bar back is responsible for basic prep work behind the bar, including such tasks as refilling ice bins, restocking liquor, replacing kegs, cutting garnishes, and clearing away and washing empty glasses.
Hourly wages for bar backs vary by venue and location. A bar back can expect to make minimum wage in addition to receiving a portion of the bartender's tips from a night's service. Some places may pay a small premium above the minimum wage.
Working as a bar back is a great way to gain valuable experience in bartending. A bar back serves a crucial function in the operation of a bar. The position offers a great foundation for people looking to become bartenders, or even bar managers or owners.
In the United States, age restrictions on working in bars and restaurants vary by state. To be eligible to work as a bar back in most states you must be over the age of 18. Some states require bar backs to be over the age of 21.
Succeeding as a Bar Back
A bar back must enjoy clear communication with the bartender and be able to work in tandem with him. Checklists for inventory, before-and-after service stocking and clean-up may be helpful as part of on-the-job training.
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