A bar back (sometimes spelled bar-back or bar back) is basically an assistant to the bartender. The responsibilities of a barback may vary according to the needs of the individual business or bartender, but general duties are to keep the bar area clean, organized, and well-stocked, as well as backing up the bartender by doing whatever may be needed during busy hours.
Typical Duties of the Barback
- Keeping liquor and mixers stocked behind the bar
- Keeping glasses cleaned
- Supplying garnishes like lemons, limes, and other ingredients
- Keeping ice stocked
- Any cleaning that is needed
- Empty trash cans
- Sometimes assist the bar servers (who serve tables) with bussing tables
- Complete orders for bottled beer or soda
- Keep beer and soda stock rotated (oldest to the front)
- Making simple drinks, pouring beers or wine
- Run food from the kitchen in bars that serve food.
- Handle much of the closing-time cleaning duties
- Help the bartender with whatever they ask
Being a barback is a good entry-level position for someone who wants to become a bartender. They tend to get experience on the busiest nights, and at some point, it usually becomes possible for a good bar back to take actual bartending shifts on less busy nights, especially when the regular bartenders need some time off. Indeed, in many businesses, the barback is considered a bartender in training. A good barback will take initiative and learn everything about running the bar possible, including learning how to make the drinks. Some barbacks think of their job as being an intern, and this is a good attitude for someone who wants to learn the ropes a move up.
Do Barbacks Get Tips?
Generally, a bartender will share a percentage of their tips with the bar back. This is called a “tip-out” or “tipping-out.” Bar backs are often only used on busy nights since at other times there is no need for an extra hand behind the bar.