Management Maximizing Profits Vol. 27 No. 04

How to Train Your Hospitality Staff to Take Their Career Behind the Bar


While the old adage “it’s hard to find good help these days” seems reductive, sometimes it really is difficult to find the right employee for the exact position you’re trying to fill. So what to do when you have some great team members who aren’t qualified for the roles you need? Train them!

In the hospitality industry, you’ll have staff who come and go without much dedication. But you’re also sure to find passionate people who want to work their way up and become career servers, managers, or bartenders.

Why You Should Invest in the Future of Your Hospitality Workers

When you nurture your staff to grow their careers, it’s a win-win for everybody. Taking your existing bussers and servers and helping them become bartenders and mixologists is a logical next step for many team members. Here’s why you should train them in-house:


All members of the bar staff are trained the same way for consistency. They’ll all have access to the same information, eliminating confusion and discrepancies. 

This is also beneficial because everyone is trained and treated equally. Regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, your employees all get the same information and opportunity to be the best bartenders without any room for “playing favorites” or for biases to come into play.

Demonstrate Interest

Investing in your staff’s upward mobility at work fosters a caring and open environment where employees feel they have opportunities to grow, learn, and succeed. 

And word travels quickly. Soon, your business will be known as a place where employees are valued and can develop their skills and interests, thus bringing in higher-quality candidates looking for a career behind the bar.

Employee Retention

On that note, when your employees feel cared for and valued, they’re likelier to stay loyal to your business and stick around. If you create an environment that is not only welcoming but also encourages growth and chances for career development, you’re more likely to retain your best team members.

How to Create Career Mixologists

While you can train your bar staff yourself, we recommend hiring an experienced outside agency to help teach best practices on all things related to the bar– from customer service to garnish-cutting techniques to cocktail creation. There are two main ways to do this:

Hire a Professional for In-House Training

One option is to hire a professional bartender or bar manager to come in person and teach your staff. 


  • Your team can receive information in a variety of learning styles, from listening to lectures to being physically shown what to do with bar equipment. 
  • They can demonstrate their understanding behind the bar in real-time.


  • All staff members must be present at once to access the same information. If anyone misses a training day, you’ll have to fill in the holes yourself or ask other team members to share the information.
  • You’ll have to repeat the process when you hire or promote a new staff member.
  • This can be costly, especially if you have to hire a presenter repeatedly as you obtain new bartenders. 
  • If you can’t bring back the same presenter in the future, the information your new staff receives may be different and inconsistent.

Use an Online Bartender Training Program

A more cost-effective and consistent way to train all your bartenders is to use an online bartender training program.


  • Employees can work at their own pace when convenient for them while still receiving all the same information.
  • When you hire or promote new employees, you already have the program. You can train them immediately in the same exact way you’ve previously trained the rest of your staff, ensuring consistency and avoiding scheduling conflicts.
  • Your team can demonstrate their knowledge with tests and quizzes– so you can be sure they understood the information.
  • The cost is usually much less than an in-person presenter, especially in the long term.


  • The one downside to an asynchronous online training program is that trainees can’t demonstrate their learning in real time. However, they can follow along at home or work with the videos. We recommend a whole-staff “revisit” of the information where everyone can practice together and review any questions.

Overall, training your staff consistently is a great way to help employees advance their careers and ensure your business is being run in the best way possible. A unified team means better customer service, higher quality cocktails, and overall fluidity in how things operate behind the bar. 

Chris Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and brings more than 15 years of experience in bartending, managing, and consulting for bars and restaurants throughout California. With his decade and a half of experience in the service industry, Chris not only uses his industry and bartending knowledge to create hundreds of training videos and articles for A Bar Above's blog, social media and YouTube channel, but he also co-creates the company's bar training courses and heads product development for their line of premium barware.

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