April 5, 2023
Alipio Umiten IV

What Is a Barback? | Barback Roles & Duties Explained

Does a career in the hospitality industry interest you, but are not ready to take on the role of a bartender yet? If so, becoming a barback may be the perfect entry-level position for you. As a barback, you will provide essential support to restaurant bartenders, ensuring that the bar runs smoothly and customers receive excellent service.

This blog post will cover the duties and responsibilities of a barback, along with the salary and tips they can expect to receive. We'll also address some frequently asked questions about the role, such as whether a license is necessary and if it's a good job to pursue. So, if you are considering becoming a barback or hiring one for your establishment, keep reading to learn more!

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What Is a Barback?

In the hospitality industry, a barback, also known as a bartender's assistant, holds an entry-level position. Barbacks work in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other drinking establishments, supporting bartenders and ensuring the smooth operation of the bar. Barbacks are responsible for various tasks, including stocking the bar, cleaning glasses and utensils, and assisting customers.

What Does a Barback Do?

A barback supports the bartenders and keeps the bar area clean, organized, and well-stocked. This can include washing and polishing glassware, restocking supplies, cutting garnishes, and preparing ingredients for cocktails. 

Barbacks also typically assist with maintaining the cleanliness of the bar area and removing empty cups and bottles. Additionally, they may be called upon to help bartenders with minor tasks such as mixing certain cocktails or serving beer to customers.

Barback Job Description

Barbacking demands physical strength, high energy, and stamina. Barbacks must stand for long periods, lift heavy objects, and work in a fast-paced environment. They also need to possess excellent communication skills and collaborate well with their team.

A barback job description typically includes the following requirements:

  • Physical fitness and the ability to lift heavy objects
  • Possess excellent communication skills and be able to work effectively in a team.
  • Basic math skills and cash-handling experience
  • Requires being available to work flexible hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, to meet the demands of the job.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Attention to detail and commitment to cleanliness and organization

Barback Duties

As a barback, you will be responsible for several tasks that keep the bar running smoothly. Your primary duties include:

1. Stocking the bar: Ensuring the bar is well-stocked with liquor, beer, wine, mixers, garnishes, and other supplies needed for preparing drinks.

2. Prepping ingredients: Cutting and preparing garnishes, such as fruit, herbs, and other items, as well as making syrups, infusions, and other specialty cocktail ingredients.

3. Cleaning and maintenance: Keeping the bar area clean and organized, which includes using the best surface cleaner for wiping down surfaces, utilizing bar glass washers for cleaning glassware, checking off tasks on a bar cleaning checklist, and regularly restocking cleaning supplies, as well as emptying trash cans.g down surfaces, washing glassware, and emptying trash cans.

4. Assisting bartenders: Helping bartenders as needed, whether it's passing them supplies, taking customer orders, or pouring draft beers.

5. Handling bar equipment: Setting up, operating, and breaking down bar equipment such as keg systems, ice machines, and glassware washing stations.

6. Observing safety protocols: Adhering to safety and sanitation guidelines to ensure a safe and clean environment for both staff and customers.


Barback Responsibilities

As a vital member of the bar staff, you will also need to take on several responsibilities to ensure the bar operates efficiently. Some of these responsibilities include:

Inventory management

Keeping track of inventory levels, notifying the manager when supplies are running low, and assisting with restocking when necessary.

Customer service

Providing excellent customer service by interacting with patrons in a friendly and professional manner, addressing any concerns or requests promptly.

Teamwork and communication

Collaborating with bartenders and other staff members to ensure a seamless operation and positive work environment.

Flexibility and adaptability

Adapting to the dynamic nature of a bar setting, including changing customer demands, varying work schedules, and fast-paced environments.

Continuous learning

Staying informed about industry trends, new cocktail recipes, and innovative bar equipment to enhance your skills and contribute to the establishment's success.


Ensuring that all activities adhere to local laws and regulations regarding alcohol service, including checking IDs and preventing over-serving of customers.

Now let's talk about the barback salary.

Barback Salary: How Much Do Barbacks Make?

With a good understanding of the job of a barback, let's now tackle the key issue: what is the typical salary range for this position?

According to data collected from 5,768 salaries, barbacks in the USA earn an annual salary of $29,250, which means they make an hourly wage of $14.06. For those just starting out in the industry, entry-level barback positions typically offer a yearly salary of around $23,400.

However, with experience and skills development, seasoned barbacks can expect to make up to $39,000 per year. The barback salary range reflects the varying levels of experience and expertise among workers in this field, making it a viable option for individuals interested in joining the fast-paced, dynamic world of hospitality.

Do Barbacks Get Tips?

Yes, barbacks typically receive tips as a part of their compensation. Customers usually tip bartenders, who then share a portion of their tips with the barbacks. The exact percentage or amount shared with barbacks depends on the establishment's tipping policy and the agreement between bartenders and barbacks. 

How Much Do Barbacks Make In Tips?

Barbacks typically earn a significant portion of their income through tips. In fact, according to industry averages, barbacks can expect to make between 1-2% of sales or between 5-20% of tips, depending on the establishment they work in. This means that their earnings can vary widely depending on the tip culture of the bar or restaurant they work in, as well as the level of business on a given shift. 

In addition to tips, many barbacks also receive an hourly wage from their employer. All in all, the earning potential for barbacks can be quite lucrative, particularly for those who work in high-end or busy establishments.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Barbacks

If you're considering hiring a barback or becoming one yourself, there are likely some important things you'll want to learn.

Keep reading for answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Is the Difference Between a Barback and Bartender?

A barback is responsible for supporting a bartender by restocking supplies, cleaning the bar area, and assisting with any other tasks that may arise. 

In contrast to a barback, a bartender is tasked with crafting and serving drinks, organizing customer orders, and ensuring a pleasant atmosphere for customers.

The main difference is that a barback’s role is more focused on supporting the bartender, while a bartender’s role is more focused on customer service and creating a quality experience for guests.

Do You Have to Be 21 to Be a Barback?

Age requirements for barbacks in the United States vary by state, but it is not always necessary to be 21 years old for this job. Barback positions typically have a minimum age requirement of 18 in some states, while others mandate a minimum age of 21. Before applying for or hiring a barback position, make sure to check the specific age requirements in your state.

Do Barbacks Need a License?

In the United States, barbacks generally do not require a license to perform their duties. However, specific requirements may vary by state, so it is essential for barbacks to check their local regulations. While a license might not be mandatory, some states or employers may require barbacks to complete training programs or obtain certifications in responsible alcohol service to ensure they are knowledgeable about relevant laws and safety practices.

Is a Barback a Good Job?

Working as a barback is perfect for someone who likes the fast-paced and exhilarating atmosphere of bars or nightclubs.

Although the job of barbacking can be demanding physically, it is a great opportunity to work with bartenders and gain knowledge about the different types of alcohol and mixology.

Is Being a Barback Worth It?

Being a barback can be worth it depending on your goals and career aspirations. Working as a barback can be an excellent way to gain experience in the bar industry while developing valuable skills like organization, multitasking, and communication.

Additionally, barbacks can make decent wages and receive tips from patrons. However, the job can also be physically demanding and require long hours on your feet. Ultimately, whether being a barback is worth it or not depends on your personal priorities and career goals.