What is a Barback? Everything You Need to Know About This Essential Role

Bar backs are crucial to the proper operation of bars.

If you’ve never worked at a restaurant or bar, you may not know the different roles that the employees play. One position that is essential to a bar is a barback.

Portrait Of Confident Male at Restaurant Bar

Whether you’re looking to enter the restaurant industry or you just want to learn more about how a busy restaurant runs, read on to learn about the bar-back position!

What is a Barback?

If you’ve ever visited a busy bar, you’ve definitely noticed a group of individuals scurrying around to keep things organized. It’s possible that one of them is a barback.

male barback wiping down the bar

What are barbacks, exactly, and what do they do? This essay will examine this crucial function in the bar business in more detail.

A barback is a member of the support staff who helps bartenders with a variety of chores in a bar or nightclub, such as stocking the bar with supplies, maintaining the bar area, and making garnishes and drink ingredients.

A barback’s responsibility is to make sure the bartenders have everything they require to serve customers effectively and fast.

Barbacks may also collaborate with other support staff members, such bussers and dishwashers, while often working under the supervision of a head bartender or bar manager.

Barbacks are frequently entry-level jobs in the bar business, and they can be a fantastic opportunity to gain experience and advance to the position of bartender.

What Does a Barback Do?

Depending on the bar or nightclub where a barback works, their specific responsibilities may vary, however some typical ones include:

man carrying keg of beer

1. Stocking the bar: Barbacks are responsible for making sure that the bar is fully stocked with all the necessary supplies, including liquor, mixers, glassware, and ice.

This means that they need to keep an eye on inventory levels and restock as needed throughout the night.

2. Cleaning and maintaining the bar: Barbacks are responsible for keeping the bar area clean and tidy, which includes wiping down counters, sweeping the floor, and taking out the trash.

They may also be responsible for cleaning and maintaining bar equipment, such as blender and juicer machines.

3. Preparing garnishes and ingredients: Barbacks are responsible for preparing garnishes and ingredients for drinks, such as cutting fruit, measuring out ingredients, and preparing simple syrups.

This means that they need to have a good understanding of basic drink recipes and techniques.

4. Assisting bartenders: Barbacks are there to help bartenders with any tasks that they need assistance with.

This might include fetching bottles or ingredients, helping to make drinks during busy periods, and helping to clear glasses and bottles from the bar area.

What Skills Does a Barback Need?

Barbacks must be dependable and diligent workers who can perform effectively under pressure.

man cleaning a glass with a cloth

The following are some of the crucial abilities needed for this position:

1. Physical fitness: Barbacks need to be able to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy objects, such as cases of liquor and kegs of beer.

2. Attention to detail: Barbacks need to have a good eye for detail, especially when it comes to stocking the bar and preparing garnishes and ingredients.

3. Communication skills: Barbacks need to be able to communicate effectively with bartenders and other support staff members, especially during busy periods when there’s a lot going on.

4. Basic math skills: Barbacks need to be able to perform basic calculations, such as measuring out ingredients for drinks and calculating change for customers.

How to Become a Barback

A common approach to enter the bar business and gain experience is to work as a barback.

These are some pointers on how to develop into a barback:

1. Look for job openings: Check job listings on websites like Craigslist, Indeed, or Monster to find barback job openings in your area.

2. Build your skills: While a barback role typically doesn’t require previous experience, having some basic knowledge of bartending and drink recipes can be helpful.

Consider taking a bartending course or doing some online research to learn more about the industry and improve your skills.

3. Be reliable: As a support staff member, being reliable and showing up to work on time is essential. Bar managers want to hire someone who they can count on to show up and do a good job.

4. Network: One of the best ways to find a barback job is through networking.

Reach out to friends or acquaintances who work in the industry and let them know that you’re interested in becoming a barback. They may be able to provide you with leads or even introduce you to a bar manager.

Barback FAQ

barback cleaning glassware

How much do barbacks get paid?

The pay for a barback can vary depending on the location and type of establishment. In the United States, barbacks typically earn an hourly wage, which can range from minimum wage to $15 per hour or more.

Is a barback role a good way to become a bartender?

Yes, many bartenders start out as barbacks and work their way up to becoming a bartender. Working as a barback can provide valuable experience and help you learn the ropes of the bar industry.

What kind of hours do barbacks typically work?

Barback shifts can vary depending on the establishment, but they often work late night shifts and weekends when bars are the busiest. Barbacks may work part-time or full-time, and may be expected to work longer hours during busy periods, such as holidays or special events.

Do barbacks need any special certifications or training?

In most cases, barbacks do not need any special certifications or training. However, some bars may require barbacks to have a food handler’s permit or other type of certification, depending on local regulations.

What is the difference between a barback and a bartender?

The primary difference between a barback and a bartender is that bartenders are responsible for making and serving drinks to customers, while barbacks provide support to the bartenders by helping with various tasks such as stocking the bar and preparing ingredients.


Barbacks are crucial to the proper operation of bars and to providing bartenders with the supplies they need to serve patrons. If you want to work in the bar sector, becoming a barback might be a wonderful way to start off and get experience.

A barback position can serve as a launching pad for a career as a bartender or in another position in the hospitality industry like a chef with dedication, dependability, and a willingness to learn.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.