How to become a bartender in New York: A to Z Guidance

How to become a bartender in New York

Last updated on January 26th, 2024 at 12:27 am

Embarking on a bartending career in the heart of the city that never sleeps, New York City is not just a profession; it’s an exhilarating journey through a dynamic and diverse industry. From the iconic speakeasies of Greenwich Village to the rooftop bars of Manhattan, the scope of bartending in this metropolis is vast and varied. This comprehensive guide aims to illuminate the path for those aspiring to become a bartender in New York.

How to become a bartender in New York: Complete Guide

From the legal requirements to the vibrant culture of mixology, we delve into the essential aspects of pursuing a bartending career in New York, providing valuable insights, success stories, and answers to frequently asked questions. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or someone dreaming of crafting the perfect cocktail, this guide will tell you how to become a bartender in New York in detail.

Also Covered.

  • Scope of bartending in New York.
  • How can I pursue a career as a bartender in New York?
  • What do you need to be a bartender in NYC?
  • How old to become a bartender in New York?
  • How to become a bartender in New York?
  • Success Stories: Inspiring Bartenders in New York.
  • Popular bars in New York?
  • Top bartending schools in New York.
  • How to get a bartending license in NY?
  • Bartending jobs in New York.

Scope of Bartending in New York:

The scope of bartending in New York is exceptionally promising, primarily due to the significantly higher income it offers in comparison to typical jobs. The demand for bartender positions is high, with many individuals aspiring to secure these roles.

In New York, the available jobs in this field are predominantly high-paying. Similar to our recent discussion about top Ivy League schools in New York, aspiring bartenders also require training from reputable schools where they can receive excellent bartender training.

After completing training from such institutions, individuals can kickstart their bartender careers. The income potential grows with experience, and as one becomes an experienced bartender, the earnings can rise substantially.

Despite the potentially exhausting nature of the job, the lucrative returns, especially on busy weekends in Manhattan, make bartending a financially rewarding career choice in the thriving city of New York. The Penrose management team estimates that on a bustling weekend night, bartenders in Manhattan can earn an impressive sum ranging between $500 and $600, including tips.

How Can I Pursue a Career as a Bartender in New York?

Embarking on a journey to become a bartender in the bustling city of New York involves a mix of preparation and flair. Here’s your recipe for success:

  1. Meet the Basics: Ensure you’ve aged like a fine spirit, as you need to be at least 18 years old. Keep your identification on the rocks, as having a valid ID is a must.
  2. Mix in the Knowledge: Enroll in the cocktail of wisdom – the Alcohol Training Awareness Program (ATAP). This state-approved course will shake and stir your understanding of legalities and responsible alcohol service.
  3. Sip and Savor Success: Successfully complete the course, proving your mastery through a multiple-choice final exam. Consider it your mixology exam for the world of bartending.
  4. Raise the Certification Toast: Obtain that coveted certificate of completion. It’s your badge, showcasing that you’ve spent at least 40 hours refining your craft in a professional bartending program.
  5. Optional Splash: While not mandatory, consider adding a splash of distinction to your mix – get a bartending license. It’s like garnishing your cocktail; it adds that extra flair and might just make you the talk of the town.
  6. ATAP – A Flavorful Choice: New York doesn’t legally demand it, but the state recommends completing the ATAP training. Think of it as choosing a top-shelf ingredient – it reflects your commitment to responsible alcohol service and could be the secret ingredient to unlocking premium employment opportunities.

What Do You Need to Be a Bartender in NYC?

There are no special requirements to become a bartender in New York, but there are some things related to it that need to be kept in mind and you should also have their certificates. Below we have mentioned some points which should be kept in mind if you apply for the job of a bartender, then you will not need any other things.

  • Age Requirement: To become a bartender in New York City, you must be at least 18 years old. This age threshold allows individuals to enter the world of bartending at an earlier stage compared to the national drinking age of 21.
  • Criminal Background Check: Ensure that you do not have a felony conviction unless accompanied by a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. This legal requirement emphasizes the importance of a clean criminal record for aspiring bartenders.
  • Enrollment in Alcohol Course: The next step involves enrolling in and successfully completing a state-approved alcohol course. This training is designed to provide aspiring bartenders with the necessary knowledge and skills related to responsible alcohol service.
  • Bartending Certification: While the state of New York does not mandate bartenders to be certified or possess a specific license, being a certified bartender is advantageous. Certification is achieved by completing at least 40 hours of classes in a professional bartending program.
  • Proof of Certification: Successful completion of the professional bartending program is typically validated with a bartending license. This tangible proof serves as evidence that the individual has undergone the required training and education.

How Old to Become a Bartender in New York?

The minimum age to become a bartender in New York is 18 years old for serving beer, wine, and spirits. However, it’s essential to note that these regulations are subject to change, and it’s advisable to check with local authorities or licensing agencies for the most up-to-date information.

Additionally, individual establishments may have their policies, so it’s a good idea to inquire with potential employers about their specific requirements.

(( Reference: This information has been obtained from the official Alcohol Policy Information System website. For more detailed information, please visit their website ))

How to become a bartender in New York.

How to Become a Bartender in New York
How to Become a Bartender in New York

How to Become a Bartender in New York?

Embarking on a journey to become a bartender in the vibrant landscape of New York City involves several key steps that, when implemented strategically, pave the way for a successful career in mixology. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate this exhilarating path:

  • Age Requirement and Job Application:
    • Start by applying for bartender positions in New York when you are 18 years or older.
    • Ensure that you meet the age requirement before submitting your application.
  • Bartending Certificate:
    • While not legally compulsory in New York, obtaining a Bartending Certificate is highly recommended.
    • Possessing this certification can significantly enhance your value in the job market and potentially lead to better salary offers.
  • Education and Language Skills:
    • Focus on enhancing your primary and secondary education to ensure strong language skills.
    • Clear communication is crucial for handling customers effectively, making your language proficiency an asset in the bartending industry.
  • Gain Practical Experience:
    • Before joining a bartending job, spend time visiting various bars in different seasons.
    • Understand the working conditions and practices of bartenders in different establishments.
    • This hands-on experience will provide valuable insights for your future role.
  • Family Support and Flexibility:
    • Consider the nightlife nature of bartending jobs, primarily during the night.
    • Ensure you have the flexibility to work during these hours and discuss this with your family to gain their support.
  • Networking and Understanding the Industry:
    • Network with existing bartenders to understand their working conditions and challenges.
    • Establishing connections within the industry can provide valuable insights that will benefit you in your future bartending career.
  • Build a Strong Resume:
    • Showcase any relevant experience, even if it is not directly related to bartending.
    • Highlight skills such as customer service and adaptability, which are crucial for success in this industry.

Success Stories: Inspiring Bartenders in New York.

Just like having technical skills is essential in Information Technology, similarly, in New York, to become a successful bartender, it’s necessary to be a skilled artist. This is because, while serving drinks, captivating customers is achieved by showcasing various artful techniques and creating a memorable experience through the artistry involved in the process.

In New York, there are some local bartenders and some from other states. But some bartenders are very expert in their skills and their demand also increases a lot. Every bar owner wants this bartender to come to our place so that the value of our outside becomes greater. For this, he gives them a maximum salary. We have mentioned below the names of some famous bartenders who have earned a good name in New York.

Alissa May Atkinson – The Way Station

  • Experience: With an impressive 12-year tenure, Alissa May Atkinson has become a seasoned bartender at The Way Station.
  • Signature Drink: Renowned for her mixology prowess, Alissa’s signature drink, “The Christina Hendricks,” reflects her creativity behind the bar.
  • Best Thing About Bartending: For Alissa, the best aspect of being a bartender is the ability to connect with people, share in their celebrations, and create a sense of community.

Mark Bailey – Kiabacca

  • Experience: Mark Bailey brings 13 years of bartending expertise to Kiabacca, where he currently serves patrons.
  • Signature Drink: While now specializing in craft beer, Mark’s heart lies in the classics, and he takes pride in crafting a perfect Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
  • Best Thing About Bartending: Mark finds joy in storytelling, whether he’s narrating captivating tales or listening to the stories of his patrons.

Mashia Baldwin – Lexington Brass

  • Experience: With two decades of experience, Mashia Baldwin is a distinguished bartender at Lexington Brass.
  • Signature Drink: Known for “The Rosselle,” Mashia’s concoctions showcase her commitment to well-balanced and innovative cocktails.
  • Best Thing About Bartending: Mashia cherishes the reactions of her guests when she presents them with a new and perfectly crafted cocktail. The connection with her guests is the highlight of her bartending journey.

Matthew Belanger – Donna

  • Experience: Matthew Belanger, with four years under his belt, is a rising star in the bartending scene at Donna.
  • Signature Drink: His creation, “Forbidden Planet,” exemplifies Matthew’s ability to experiment with flavors and captivate his audience.
  • Best Thing About Bartending: Matthew’s favorite aspect revolves around the thrill of working the busiest nights of the weekend, showcasing his dedication and passion for the craft.

Popular Bars in New York?

McSorley’s Old Ale House:

McSorley's Old Ale House
McSorley’s Old Ale House
  • Atmosphere: Stepping into McSorley’s Old Ale House is like entering a time capsule of New York’s history. Established in 1854, it exudes an old-world charm with sawdust-covered floors, vintage memorabilia, and a lively crowd.
  • Staff Count: McSorley’s is known for its friendly and experienced staff. Typically, you’ll find a team of seasoned bartenders who contribute to the establishment’s welcoming atmosphere.
  • Salary Range: Bartenders at McSorley’s can expect a competitive salary, often influenced by experience and the ability to handle the bustling nature of this historic pub.
  • Job Availability: Securing a job at McSorley’s might be competitive due to its popularity, but for those with a passion for history and a knack for engaging with diverse patrons, it’s worth the effort.

Terra Blues:

Terra Blues
Terra Blues
  • Atmosphere: Terra Blues is a haven for blues enthusiasts. The ambiance is electric, with nightly live performances that infuse the space with soulful melodies, creating a unique and intimate experience.
  • Staff Count: The venue typically maintains a moderate-sized staff, including bartenders who share a passion for music and contribute to the vibrant atmosphere.
  • Salary Range: Bartenders at Terra Blues can enjoy a decent salary, especially if they possess a deep appreciation for blues music and can engage customers in the lively setting.
  • Job Availability: Opportunities may arise for bartenders who are not only skilled in mixology but also have a genuine love for the blues genre.

The Village Vanguard

The Village Vanguard
The Village Vanguard
  • Atmosphere: Known as a legendary jazz venue, The Village Vanguard offers a cozy and intimate setting for music enthusiasts. The dimly lit space and the rich history of hosting jazz legends create a unique charm.
  • Staff Count: The Village Vanguard maintains a small, close-knit staff, including attentive bartenders who contribute to the venue’s reputation for exceptional service.
  • Salary Range: Bartenders at The Village Vanguard can expect a competitive salary, with the potential for additional income through tips, especially during live performances.
  • Job Availability: While securing a position here might be competitive, those with a genuine passion for jazz and an ability to create a warm atmosphere may find rewarding opportunities.

Top Bartending Schools in New York:

In the same way that there are numerous nursing schools in New York, there aren’t as many bartending schools.

In New York, finding a top-notch bartending school is relatively easy, but gaining admission to the very best ones can be challenging. However, I have identified four schools below that are considered top-notch in terms of their ratings and features.

Bartending SchoolRatingCategoryOperating HoursFeatures
ABC Bartending School4.7Bartending Schools9:00 AM – 5:00 AM (Next day)Comprehensive training, hands-on experience, and highly rated learning environment.
Columbia Bartending Agency4.8Bartenders, Bartending SchoolsOpen 24 hoursOffers bartending services for events, high rating for bartending education.
American Bartending School of NYC3.6Bartending Schools, Vocational & Tech School9:00 AM – 5:00 PMProvides bartending education with a mix of positive and constructive reviews.
New York Bartending School4.6Bartending Schools10:00 AM – 4:00 PMSolid rating, operates during a more condensed schedule, enjoys a positive reputation.

How to Get a Bartending License in NY:

Getting a bartending license in New York involves a straightforward process. First and foremost, ensure that you meet the requirements, including being at least 18 years old and without a felony conviction unless you possess a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

  1. Enroll in a State-Approved Alcohol Course:
    • Choose a state-approved alcohol course.
    • Enroll in the selected course for comprehensive training.
  2. Complete the Course:
    • Attend all required sessions.
    • Engage in practical learning experiences.
  3. Pass Multiple-Choice Final Exam:
    • Prepare for and take the final exam.
    • Achieve a passing grade.
  4. Receive Certificate of Completion:
    • Upon passing the exam, receive a certificate of completion.
    • Use the certificate as proof of completing proper bartending education.

Bartending Jobs in New York:

Bartending jobs in New York City are currently available, offering exciting opportunities for those seeking to pursue a career in mixology. Three prominent positions have been listed for aspiring bartenders for 204, with openings at reputable establishments.

  1. Bartender at The Capital Grille
    • Location: New York, NY, USA
    • Position: Bartender
    • Employer: The Capital Grille
  2. Bartender at The Mark Hotel
    • Location: New York, NY, USA
    • Position: Bartender
    • Employer: The Mark Hotel
  3. Bartender at Premier Staff
    • Location: New York, NY, USA
    • Position: Bartender
    • Employer: Premier Staff

These three opportunities provide a snapshot of current bartending positions available in New York City. Eligible candidates are encouraged to explore these roles and consider applying to kickstart their careers in the dynamic field of mixology. For detailed eligibility requirements, refer to the information provided above.


Becoming a bartender in New York is a journey marked by learning, hands-on experience, and a commitment to excellence. While not legally required, obtaining an ATAP certification enhances credibility and employability. Success in the city’s competitive bartending scene requires a blend of technical expertise, customer service skills, and a passion for mixology.


Networking, submitting resumes, and showcasing acquired skills are key to securing bartending positions in the city.

Absolutely! Bartending schools provide a pressure-free environment for beginners to learn and practice making a variety of drinks.

Yes, the vibrant nightlife and diverse culinary scene in New York City contribute to a consistent demand for skilled and knowledgeable bartenders.

Yes, combining certification training with part-time bartending experience is an excellent way to gain practical skills and make yourself a highly desirable candidate for various opportunities.

Thanks for your visit.

(How to become a bartender in New York)

Disclaimer: Information in this article is for general purposes only. Verify details independently. Not liable for any losses or damages. Consult professionals for specific advice.

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