Is Bartending Stressful? (Useful Guide)

is bartending stressful
Joe | Last Updated: November 24, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

According to the American Institute of Stress, about 33 percent of people in the United States report feeling extreme stress, with about 48 percent of people reporting having trouble sleeping due to stress. Yikes!

A whopping 83 percent of US workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25 percent saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.

Managing a family and social life whilst trying to nail a work-life balance can be difficult for all of us, but the job you undertake plays a massive role in how effectively you are able to do that.

Today, we’re going to answer a question that often comes up when discussing bartending, especially with those that are new and interested in the role. “Is bartending stressful?”

YES, bartending is stressful. There are no two ways about it, the pressure and responsibilities that come with bartending are certainly stressful, especially on the weekends and evenings when bars see the most footfall.

Let’s take a closer look…

Is Bartending Actually Stressful?

Bartending is a highly visible role that comes with a lot of pressure and stress. Trying to make multiple cocktails all at once whilst seemingly the whole bar is watching can be daunting for many, but this is only one of the stress factors of the role.

Whilst the role is fun and enjoyable for some, it can be a nightmare for others that are not comfortable with the expectations and pressures that come with it.

Bartenders are often given a lot more work than they can handle. They are hard-pressed and up against time when operations start to get busy.

is bartending stressful
Photo by Darlene Alderson

It’s undeniable that stress is an inherent part of bartending, but it’s worth noting that it’s not stressful all of the time, and the bar you work in plays a big role in how stressful the job will be.

Working in a busy city bar in New York is very different from working in a pub in the countryside of England. The number of customers, the amount of staff, and how well the bar is doing financially all play a role in how stressful the bartender’s role will be.

>>Read more: Is bartending a depressing job?

Why Is Bartending Stressful?

Everyone manages stress differently, therefore, what is stressful for some may be a walk in the park for others. This is why it’s important to test your stress tolerance and try to find out what are the things that trigger stress for you.

We’re all different, for me, stress comes when I feel completely overwhelmed but as I’ve become more experienced with bartending I’ve learned ways to manage the stressful periods.

Here are some of the reasons why some people find bartending stressful:

Busy periods

Unless you’re a raging alcoholic or someone that has an incredibly active social life (not me sadly), you’ll likely only be drinking on weekends or the occasional evening after your working day finishes.

On weekends bars really come to life, with people from all over traveling into the city to catch up with friends over a couple of cold drinks.

For bartenders, this means the workload increases significantly between Friday to Sunday and that is when stress can creep in.

Busy bars can really feel the pressure on Saturday nights with crowds cramming into popular spots to dance and enjoy the music.

This means if you work in a busy bar you will likely be non-stop until the early hours of the morning which can be exhausting, frustrating, and stressful.

Busy periods for bartenders are all part of the job and it comes with the territory that weekends are going to be much busier than during the week.

Lack of staff

Bars that are booming and have lots of business usually have plenty of staff to manage the busy workload. But if you work in a bar that is struggling and trying to cut costs this may not be the case.

Trying to do the work of multiple bartenders is incredibly stressful, believe me, I’ve been there. With two hands and one mouth, there is only so much one bartender can accomplish.

A bar that has a lack of staff is not somewhere that is enjoyable to work for bartenders, especially on weekends and bank holidays when footfall increases.

This can happen if a staff member calls in sick, quits unexpectedly, or simply because the owner does not want to hire more staff.

It’s something aspiring bartenders need to be aware of before taking on the role. Be mindful of the staff members and always outline the expected workload beforehand with management.


This ties in nicely with the lack of staff issue highlighted above. An ever-increasing workload is a sure way to make bartenders stressed, unhappy, and not enjoying their job.

The roles and responsibilities of bartenders can change from bar to bar, but generally, it’s to serve customers, process payments, manage inventory, do cleaning duties, etc.

There is already a lot on a bartender’s plate and adding more and more can begin to really stress bartenders out.

What Is The Most Stressful Part Of Bartending?

The most stressful part of being a bartender will likely change for each individual depending on how they manage stress and customers.

For me, I found the most stressful part of being a bartender to be when I received an order of seven or eight different cocktails for a group of people whilst the bar was already incredibly busy.

Having to think on the spot to remember all of the ingredients and being under the watchful eye of increasingly impatient punters would really get my cortisol spiking.

However, this was only a problem when I first started the role. Over a period of time, I began to get incredibly efficient at making drinks and could remember and make an order like this surprisingly quickly.

Another stress of the job is the clean down at the end of the shift. Having just finished a brutal shift at 3am and then had to do a deep clean of the bar before I got to go home and sleep.

>> Read more: Bartender Burnout: How To Tackle It (Why, How, When)

Is Bartending Always Stressful?

The good news is that bartending is NOT always stressful, there are periods when the bar is quiet and you’ll have time to relax whilst on shift.

There will always be periods of stress working as a bartender, but certainly not always. It’s mostly weekends that are stressful, but during the week is a breeze in most bars.

Bartenders also find that the more experience they have and the longer they have worked at the bar the less stressful it gets.

This is because as time goes on, bartenders begin to learn how to make cocktails very quickly and they begin to remember where all of the ingredients are located behind the bar.

How Do Bartenders Stay Calm?

Learning how to stay calm and manage your emotions whilst working as a bartender is crucial for success in the role.

I found that “letting go” and accepting the fact that no matter how hard I work or how hard I push myself, there is always going to be a queue at the bar on a Friday and Saturday night. There’s nothing I could do about it.

The bars and clubs I worked in were incredibly busy and often had DJs and live bands play at them, so there was just no getting around the busy periods.

is bartending stressful
Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Meditation also worked like a charm for falling asleep after a shift. Going from loud, thumping music to suddenly tucked up in bed in a matter of 30 minutes can be challenging for some and lead to all sorts of sleeping issues.

For me, I would meditate when I got home to put my mind into a relaxed state and found that this would help relieve any stress I had that day and allow me to sleep like a baby.

This might not work for everyone so it’s all about finding the right tools and methods that work for you.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a clear answer to “is bartending stressful” and have a better understanding of some of the reasons why many bartenders experience stress in the role.

Bartending is a high-pressure, fast-paced role that demands a lot of energy and attention. It can be incredibly draining and stressful at times but it’s important to remember the benefits of the role too.

Find a way to manage stress whilst working this role and you’ll be absolutely fine. Remember, the bar and environment you work in play a HUGE role in the amount of stress you’ll experience, so choose wisely.

There are plenty of bars out there that are looking for skilled bartenders, so don’t be afraid of moving if you are becoming stressed and the role is not working for you.

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

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