Can Bartenders Drink While Working: Surprising Facts Reveled

There are many responsibilities to bartenders from serving the customers, keeping a good atmosphere, stocking the shelves, and keeping orders coming. When walking into a restaurant, bar, or night club you usually see bartenders fully concentrated on their work and you might begin to wonder, can bartenders drink while working?

This is a good question and this article will teach you the real answer in addition to some additional aspects and facts about the job of a bartender.

In general, bartenders can drink while working and can be encouraged to do so. However, some restaurants, states, and countries prohibit drinking at the job completely, whereas others may allow it for various reasons, such as happier customers and larger tips.

There are many factors in the subject and if we want to fully understand whether the bartenders actually can drink while working, we need to dive more in-depth into these aspects. Let’s get started.

Are you old enough?

The first determining whether the bartender can drink while working is the age. At least in the United States, the drinking age is 21 however in some states and areas a person can begin bartending at the age of 18 which means that you simply couldn’t drink while at work.

Country or state laws

Depending on the country or state the bartender can or can’t drink while at the job because some areas allow it whereas some areas just don’t. You should check your local regulations and laws about this aspect and you can get a quick 100% true answer there.

Restaurant type

The restaurant type also has a heavy impact on whether bartenders drink there or not. Fine dining and some other high-end restaurants don’t allow the staff to drink while at the job and if they do, they are so rare that I personally haven’t heard one or don’t even know anyone that knows such a place doing that.

However, when talking about bars, pubs, and especially nightclubs then you can definitely spot some drinking bartenders there!

Restaurant’s practices

The last and final determination of whether bartenders can drink at the job is what the establishment thinks about it. If the owner or manager thinks that no such thing is done within the restaurant then that is how it’s going down.

There are many reasons why a restaurant wouldn’t let the bartenders drink. For example, if the bartender is sober the whole night it is less likely that they overserve the customers, act unprofessionally, or in the worst case serve a customer that is already too drunk, to begin with, and if something happens the serving bartender could be facing charges. Let’s take a closer look at why restaurants would prohibit bartenders from drinking.

Why restaurants would prohibit drinking on the job

In addition to area laws, bartenders’ age, and restaurant type there are some things that are good to understand why a restaurant would have such practices where drinking is prohibited.

Customer service

The first concern the restauranteurs have is that if the bartender gets too drunk they would behave unprofessionally in addition to being less careful with practically everything. Imagine yourself drunk serving a lot of customers at the same time, could you do it? Some bartenders can and some just can’t.

Lost profit

Probably the biggest concern towards the drinking of the bartender is lost profit and money. Restaurants are constantly trying to figure out ways to save money and if the bartender is drunk they might miss or wrongfully charge customers, overserve the alcohol which is really expensive, or break glasses, bottles, or worse. Also, when the bartender drinks it is alcohol (money( off the restaurant’s register.

Liability risk

Another huge concern that I quickly mentioned above is the risk of liability. Let’s say that the bartender is really drunk and he or she doesn’t notice that the customer is extremely drunk and shouldn’t be served more. Then the customer orders even more and leaves with the car and runs someone over. This is partly the bartender’s fault and there have been cases where the bartender has been held partly liable for the accident, therefore many restaurants just don’t want to risk it.

Why restaurants would allow drinking on the job

There are also many benefits to letting the bartenders drink when on the clock so let’s take a look at those next.

Sign of trust

Letting your employees drink when working is a huge sign of trust which will result in respect from the employee. Of course, there needs to be some kind of game rules for example no shots because that can go overboard extremely quickly.

Trusting the employees will motivate them more than anything and usually, when the trust is given they won’t let you down!

Team bonding

When trusting the employees to drink on the job will result in better relations between the management and the employees but also the employees will feel like they are with friends after a couple of trusted nights.

When the staff has good and relaxed relations between one another then it will create a much more fun place to work and that will always result in many benefits such as better customer service and even more revenue!

Increases expertise

Last but not least is the highly increased expertise from all the different drinks. There is no way that a bartender can know the exact taste of all the drinks if they need to purchase every drink from their own purse, therefore giving the opportunity to taste the drinks will give the bartenders knowledge that will surprise all the customers and it can be the determining aspect whether the customer orders a drink or not when they ask the bartenders opinion and drink’s taste.

What is the 50 rule in bartending

The 50 rule in bartending and restaurants means that you can’t sell or serve another drink before the customer’s current drink is at least halfway through.

What drinks do bartenders hate making

There are many drinks that most bartenders have made so many times that they are just sick of it. This varies drastically depending on the bartender’s preferences but in most cases, the drinks below are the most hated ones.

  • Mojitos
  • Pina Coladas
  • Bloody Marys
  • Daiquiris
  • Layered Shots

Can bartenders give free drinks

Bartenders can give free drinks IF the owner or manager has said that it is okay to do so. By no means can a bartender give free drinks as they please for their friends etc. which is quite understandable. Also, managers or owners usually have some kind of compensation instructions if there is something wrong with the drink or if a customer haves a valid complaint. In these cases, a bartender usually can give free drinks.


This article was all about bartenders drinking and it is fascinating to see how much it depends on whether they can drink or not and how many reasons there really are behind the decision.

I hope that this article gave you real value and you can now understand better whether bartenders can or can’t drink when they are working.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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