Work-Life Balance: A Bartender’s Edition


Picture this: you’ve just walked out of an all-day, 10-hour long shift and you can still hear the European rugby players singing their anthem while on top of cocktail tables. True story

Your apron is crusted over with simple syrup and you’re wearing your last clean work shirt. Which would all be pretty manageable to do a load of laundry – but you’re due to be back at work in seven hours. Where’s the time to do laundry, eat, and get enough sleep?

The story of having trouble balancing work and life as a bartender isn’t a new one. Long hours, late nights, and a stressful work environment make personal goals and life outside of the bar hard to deal with.

Luckily, with years of industry experience under our vetted professionals at Local Bartending School, we’re able to give you the peace of mind you need. Work-life balance as a bartender is possible! 

Without waiting any longer, here’s how to reduce bartender burnout and find a balance between business and personal.

Balancing Your First Bartending Job

Bartenders who are new to the scene, aka baby bartenders, you might have joined the industry because you heard about other mixologists making a lot of money in tips. Of course, you’ll have your chance to grab the bag, too. But the chase to financial freedom, especially in the bar world, can deplete your mental and physical energy tanks.

Talk the Talk

Reduce the amount of stress you feel with your first bartending job and every day after by knowing, understanding, and using common bar lingo. You’ll spend less time at home catching up on confusing words and more time catching up on much-need z’s. 

Learning the Word “No”

As service providers in the hospitality industry, the word “no” might not even be in your vocabulary. Especially if you work at Disney, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Typically, when bartenders say no to something, we’re also saying bye to money. But, in the end, you’ll be able to make more money by telling Debbie you can’t close for her… again. How? 

Saying no to everyone else means saying yes to yourself. And saying yes to yourself goes a long way for your physical and mental health. You can spend a bit of extra time gaming, moisturizing, or you know… eating a proper dinner.

Treat Your Body Like Your Treat Your Regulars

It’s no secret. And if you don’t know, you should! Bartending can be a strain on your physical well-being and some days, emotional.

The first way to prevent and kick burnout straight in the face is to take care of your body! After all, it’s your body that makes those drinks happen—so you have to nourish it!

But, I’ll be the first to tell you it’s harder than it may seem. I’ve spent plenty of shifts hangry, not being able to eat until after close. Not to mention, never ever being able to leave the bar alone when I have to use the restroom! 

Image via Canva

Your basic needs should and can be met as a bartender. Make sure to eat and drink properly. Water and calories help maintain that balance of energy going in and energy going out. Look up local laws on breaks and have open communication with your supervisor or manager about how they happen. 

Veteran Bartenders, How’s Your Work-Life Balance?

Bar owners, bar managers, shift leads, and bartending veterans, I get it. Your first shift was years ago. Plus, you’ve been doing flair since flair was a thing. But, as you might know, there’s still a thing or two you can learn—especially when it comes to balancing your full-time work and your life.

  • You affect others. As a leader, you directly have a say in your team’s work-life balance. Remember this: humans are not machines. Avoid clopens, give your team breaks, and provide your support when they need it and you’ll have a happy (and productive) bar staff who isn’t afraid of hard work.
  • 86 the late nights out. The post-work cocktail was something I looked forward to many nights. (Moscow Mules on draft are way too easy to put down.) But when I switched my mule for an herbal tea, I got more rest and woke up earlier. Finally, I could get some housework done before my afternoon shift! 
  • Schedule for success. Most of us think scheduling is only for work. 

Pencil in a little playtime, block your calendar and tell your boss/staff to leave you alone. Picture your rest and relaxation as your part-time gig. Making time for play is key to finding that work-life balance.

The Best-Kept Secret for Work-Life Balance as a Bartender

All of us have a cardiac rhythm and routine that works best for our bodies and minds. And while the majority of people think the only shift for the bar industry is one that favors a vampire-esque lifestyle, they’re also wrong. 

Here’s the big secret… find the type of bar that complements your routine, schedule, and preference. If you have kids or are more of a day-time person, find a brunch venue or restaurant with a lunch bar shift. If you like to sleep in or dig the darkness, club bars with a late last call might be better for you.

When Bartending Becomes Life

The list of transferable skills for bartenders and servers seems never-ending. Or as Cady Herring might tell us, the limit does not exist.

Some industry veterans might even say that having a job in the hospitality industry should be a prerequisite to being an adult. And of course, we agree. 

“Everyone should work in a restaurant at some point in their life. It teaches you a lot about humility, empathy, the human condition, social standards, and most importantly, hard work and how to treat customers and co-workers.” – Alex Spinelli

A few of the biggest skills you’ll take into your everyday life are organization and work ethic. 

But the real question is… will you be so organized and energized that you’ll serve Tinytini’s to your tiny toddler? 

You Can Control Your Work-Life Balance as a Bartender

“As people become a little more aware of the potential in this industry and stop casting it aside as a uni trade, the culture is changing. Now you can bartend four days of the week and have three days off. You can spend time with your kids, and that’s probably because the industry’s getting better. Better venues opening up, better quality of staff, people taking it seriously like as a career.” Pasan Wijesena

Craving control of your bartending career? The instructors and training programs at Local Bartending School can help you find a better job that honors work-life balance through their nationally recognized bartending courses, certifications, and job placement programs.

Take your life by the horns today!

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