Do Bartenders Drink A Lot? (Truthful Guide)

do bartenders drink a lot
Joe | Last Updated: September 15, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Working in a bar can be a great way to network and make new friends but it does come with some unexpected downsides that may not be for everyone.

Dealing with angry customers, cleaning duties, and working late nights are all part of the role, which is why you’ll need strong communication skills and a can-do attitude to succeed as a bartender.

Putting yourself in an environment that is purposefully designed to entice you into drinking alcohol may be a bad idea for some, especially those with a history of alcohol addiction.

Today, we’re going to discuss a topic that often comes to mind when discussing bartending. “Do bartenders drink a lot?”

YES, bartenders typically do drink quite a lot, more so than in other professions. Restaurant staff (including bartenders), construction workers, and miners are the professions that have the highest percentage of workers who drink heavily.

Let’s get into it…

Can You Drink If You’re A Bartender?

Most states do NOT allow bartenders to drink on the job. That said, in some states, this decision is left to the bar licensee to decide whether staff can drink at work.

Whether or not a bartender can drink largely depends on the state, as well as local and house laws. If bartenders are caught drinking on the job in some states the bar’s liquor license could be suspended.

In other states, it’s completely legal for bartenders to have a couple of drinks on the job which is why it’s always important to check with management before proceeding to drink on the job.

do bartenders drink a lot
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

In some countries such as the UK, it’s perfectly legal for a working bartender to have a drink or two whilst serving alcohol, so long as management allows.

In fact, it might not even be a problem (legally) to be drunk at work in the UK and other countries.

>> Read more: Why do bartenders drink Fernet?

Do Bartenders Drink Regularly?

The frequency in which a bartender drinks will depend on the type of bar they work in and their individual preferences. High-end bars typically do not allow their bartenders to drink whatsoever whilst working.

Whereas “mid-level” bars may allow some drinking, but usually not enough which could make the bartender drunk which would impact their performance on the job.

In “dive bars” you may find bartenders getting wasted! This happens in more small-town local bars as opposed to well-established chains.

It also depends on the individual bartender and whether or not they enjoy drinking alcohol. Some staff may not want to drink at all as they may start to make mistakes or perform poorly which could impact their tips.

This happens quite regularly, a bartender has one too many drinks and then can’t remember a large cocktail order or messes it up.

It is easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of being a bartender which can definitely lead to drinking more often than in other careers.

It’s typical to have a drink after the shift to unwind before leaving for home, but some staff may then go onto different bars and carry on the night.

If you’re someone who enjoys drinking or is easily led, you may find yourself slipping into the routine of going for post-shift drinks with colleagues and drinking heavily.

>> Read more: Are bars dangerous?

How Much Is Normal For Bartenders To Drink?

The amount a bartender drinks will vary depending on the individual. Some bartenders choose to not drink at all while others enjoy having a couple of drinks every shift.

Typically bar management will only allow for 1 – 2 drinks if they allow drinking on shift at all. This is to stop staff from getting too drunk and being unable to serve.

Having more than 1 or 2 drinks can start to get messy for some people, especially if they’re not used to drinking alcohol.

Not only does this damage the bar’s reputation but it’s bad for business. Mistakes are easily made when you’ve had a couple of drinks as I’m sure you’re aware.

At the end of the shift, it’s up to the individual if they want to have a few drinks and continue or if they decide to go home.

In many bars, just before last orders staff will make themselves a drink, that way they can leave on time and still enjoy a beverage before they go home.

Why Do Bartenders Drink A Lot?

Whilst it’s true that some bartenders do consume a lot of alcohol, I don’t want to tar all bartenders with the same brush as many do not drink at all.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why bartenders find themselves drinking a lot:


Working in an environment in which you’re constantly surrounded by alcohol, serving alcohol, and speaking with people who are intoxicated with alcohol can certainly influence the amount you drink.

Most bars are set up to make people want to drink more. Loud music, jukeboxes, deals or drinks, and other tactics are used to persuade punters to get another round in.

Bartenders can easily find themselves drinking more alcohol than say if they were in an office job purely because of the environment they work in.

Peer Pressure

Having a drink on shift or after the shift is customary in some bars, and if every other staff member is enjoying a cold pint this can certainly influence you to have one yourself.

Peer pressure is very real in lots of work environments and it’s prevalent in bartending for drinking alcohol.

If your close colleague is having a pint they may try to persuade you to have one too, which can lead to you consuming more alcohol if you are not careful.


The bartender lifestyle is a fun one, especially if you’re young and single. Loud music, dancing, and lots of alcohol can start to become the norm.

This is why so many students decide to become bartenders, they enjoy the lifestyle and being able to network and meet with new people whilst having fun.

bartender pouring drink
Photo by cottonbro

This lifestyle can get the better of some people and mean that they are consuming LOTS more alcohol than they usually would, which can be detrimental to their health and even lead to alcoholism.

It’s not unheard of for bartenders to become alcoholics because of this, which is why it’s super important to always be aware of how much alcohol you drinking as a bartender and not get carried away.

Is Bartending High Stress?

Whilst being a bartender is incredibly fun it can get VERY stressful at times. Being 5-people deep at the bar on a busy Saturday night when your colleague has phoned in sick can exhausting.

Customers get rowdy, mistakes happen and stress starts to get the better of you. It happens, but how bartenders manage in stressful periods is what determines their success.

Whilst it does depend on the type of bar you work in as to how stressful it will be, the role in general can be high stress at times.

When starting out, trying to remember a large cocktail order whilst the bar is busy is daunting. Aggressive customers, healthy and safety hazards, and work politics can all increase stress as a bartender.

Stress at work also factors into how often and how much bartenders drink at work. After a hard Saturday shift, it’s more likely that bartenders will say yes to a cold alcoholic beverage to unwind and take the load off.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a clear answer to “do bartenders drink a lot” and have a better understanding of the reasons why they do so.

It’s important to remember that not all bartenders drink a lot, some don’t drink at all. Often the best bartenders that make the most money don’t have a sip at work, allowing them to rack up more tips.

However, depending on the state you’re in it can be very normal for bartenders to drink at work, especially in other countries such as the UK.

There are numerous reasons for doing so, including a stressful shift, peer pressure or simply wanting to have a drink and network with people.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I’ll catch you in the next one!