5 Best Types of Bars to Work

If you’re looking for a bar with free wifi to work on your laptop, you’ll want to keep searching! ‘Cause this post is all for bartenders. Do I have only bartenders here now? Good.

Now we can get started! 

When I was first starting out as a bartender, I had so many questions. I constantly wondered what type of bar would be the best to work at. But I asked myself these questions over and over again:

  • Where can I make the most money?
  • What bars have the best customers?

If you’re a beginning bartender and you’re wondering the same questions, you’re in the right place for two reasons. 

  1. That’s what this post is all about–the best types of bars to work at for new bartenders!
  2. Plus, Local Bartending School is here to help you every step of the way with their online course and job placement program! (More on this later, people!)

So, after working in the bar industry for nearly a decade and asking some of my fellow bartenders what’s up, I’ve created a list of the best bars to work at for beginning bartenders, based on money to be made and overall experience to be had.

Here are the types of bars we recommend for beginning bartenders!

1. Chain Restaurant Bar

Whenever you work at a chain restaurant, you’re typically involved in a robust training program. Chain establishments and franchises aim to have their food and service the same across all of their locations, from bartending to hosting. That’s why you go through so much training!

As a bartender who’s just starting out, this can be a great place to begin (other than bartending school!). You’ll learn how to make a multitude of drinks, ranging from basic call drinks, bloody mary’s, all the way to kiddy cocktails. You’ll also be serving food like BBQ wings and tacos and handing takeout orders, though!

The hours are typically flexible and the pay can be decent, but the people can be picky, demanding, and sometimes rude. Not to mention, depending on the state you live in, you might have to interact with a kiddo or two.

On the bright side, you’re typically tipped out by the service staff for making all their drinks!

A lot of bartenders have noted the best restaurants in the US to work at as a bartender are:

  • PF Changs
  • TGI Fridays
  • Texas Roadhouse
2. Breweries and Distilleries

Often focused on their own drinks, a brewery, taproom, or distillery can be a nice place to start as a bartender.

The environment is often relaxed and the drinks you make won’t be too complicated. The downside of pouring craft beers and IPAs all day is the lack of volume. Compared to a cocktail bar or dive bar, you might not see as many bar-goers which can hinder how much money you make. But you’ll learn a lot about the product you’re selling (like draft beers!) which can help you narrow down a niche or add to your bartending resume.

If you’re aiming to work at a brewery, wine bar, or distillery for your first gig as a bartender, you’ll need to know the basics of the main product that’s being made. How it’s created, what glassware it goes into, etc. Study those before you head in for the interview and the job for sure yours.

3. Concession Bars

Tending the bar while listening to live music may be enough of a motivation for you to work at a concession, stadium, or arena bar. Add the fact that you’re cranking out super quick call drinks and beers, and you have yourself an upbeat working environment.

You’ll be turning and burning so many drinks that those small tips will add up quickly and the time is sure to pass by fast.

Nailing down muscle memory from making drink after drink in a concession bar (or nightclub, that’s up next!) for your first bartending job is a fantastic way to get your mixology career off to a rapid start. Future bar managers and owners will be impressed that you can work through a high volume with low ticket times (how long it takes to make a drink).

4. Nightclubs

Nightclubs can be just as high-volume and busy as concession bars, if not more. Plus, your guests are bound to be boozier and you’ll have a full bar (rows deep) your entire shift.

But on the bright side (it’s bright aff), it’s not uncommon for you to walk about with $300-400 in tips each night! So even though you’ll be busy cranking out drinks to repetitive music, the pay is worth it for a lot of folks.

You’ll want to take a look at your lifestyle to decide if nightclub hours are going to jive with you. Your shift can start as late as 10:00 pm and last until the early morning hours. If you’re a morning person, you might actually hate this kind of type of bar to work at. Maybe a lunch shift at a family chain restaurant would be better!

If the nightclub sounds like your scene, you’ll need to have your free-pour down, have tough skin (you’ll be asked for free drinks and your number a few times), and know how to make several popular call drinks–and fast. Need help? Local Bartending School can show you the ropes for your first shift.

5. Hotel Lobbies

Hotel bars usually have a top-notch cocktail menu and fabulous chandeliers, both of which make the prices are higher than your average dive bar craft cocktail. This is why we recommend a hotel lobby bar to work at for beginning bartenders.

At a hotel lobby bar, you’ll make more tips because your check averages are higher. Plus, people are more inclined to spend money for two reasons– one, they have the money to do it and two, they’re listing their bar drinks and food as a business expense.

Some hotel bartenders never see a regular the whole time they’re employed! But it’s been my experience that you see transient regulars quite often at hotel bars. When business people find the right hotel, with the right staff, food, and drinks–they become regulars and you’ll see them on weekdays when they’re in town for business.

When you’re working at a hotel bar, you not only need to know about the bartending side of things but also the hotel! Guests will ask you questions about things to do, restaurants in the area, and where the pool is.

Other Bars to Work at for Beginning Bartenders

If none of these are quite jiving with you, there are plenty of other bars in the sea. Once you find the right one that fits well with your schedule, interests, and lifestyle, you’ll feel right at home. Here are some other places to check out for your first job as a new bartender.

  • Alehouses
  • Dog bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Live music venues
  • Sports bars
  • Irish pubs
  • College bars
  • Cigar bars
  • Speakeasies
  • Lounges

Advice for Your First Job as a Bartender

No matter what bar you work at, you might feel nervous for the first day of your new job. Here are some words of wisdom from strangers on the internet to get your mindset in the right place so you’re ready for your first happy hour in any bar you’re employed at.

“If you approach it humbly, and try to learn something new every day, and don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you don’t know something you will go far. Every bar is different. So are the bartenders that work there.”  – Aussieshepard

“Bartending and working in a coffee shop was how I finally learned how to talk to people. Just hang out behind the bar, be attentive and smile. People talk to bartenders, you just have to respond. Conversation is super easy, just ask people questions. People like talking about themselves!” – Im_mrmanager

“Learn your products and be passionate. Customers love a little bit of knowledge about what they drinking. A bit of banter goes a long way and try to learn their drinks. ‘Another jacks and coke for you sir?’ Makes them feel special.” – Ttrashlee

Getting Work at the Best Bars as a New Bartender Isn't Hard!

Now that you have some insider intel on the best types of bars to work at (whether you’re located in New York or Los Angeles), you can rest easy knowing that no matter where you start, you’re beginning your bartending career.

From here, you pick and choose which direction you want to take for your career as a bartender in the world of mixology. Who knows–you might be the next big flair bartender.

For more tips for your very first day, check out this article!

Or if you’re wanting to head to bartending school (here are some reasons why you should), Local Bartending School is a highly accredited and nationally recognized establishment to get certified anywhere in the United States. Plus, you’ll benefit from their job placement program when you graduate. For more, click here!

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Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean

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