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How to Create an Effective Bartender Training Manual [Bartender Training Manual Template]

Marcel DeerAuthor

Alcohol is a crucial component of any bar’s success story. Although Toast research shows that plain and simple beer is the most popular drink in the US, that doesn’t mean bartenders need less training.

Every establishment that sells food and drink should have an employee handbook and a bartending training manual PDF for easy circulation to staff. These crucial documents lay out expectations for staff and make it easier to get new hires up to speed quickly.

In this article, you will learn more about the importance of a bartending training manual and how to create one yourself.

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Training Manual Template

Use this restaurant training manual template, a customizable Word Doc, to provide your staff with the rules, guidelines, and clarity they need to do their jobs efficiently.

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The importance of a bartending training manual

Most people have a basic understanding of what bartenders generally do, but every establishment is different. It’s not always just about pouring drinks; sometimes bartenders need mixology skills to make cocktails both on- and off-menu, strong customer service skills, or even some restaurant management skills. Whether bartenders at your establishment need extensive bartending skills or are new to the hospitality business, a bartender training manual can help everyone get to the level you expect.

Toast’s Isabelle Hahn writes, “Bartender training is essential to helping your aspiring bar team grow into genuine hospitality professionals. And a great training program and the promise of career progression will motivate your bartenders to stick around.”

Not only do clear-cut guidelines in a training manual help raise the standard of service, but they can also help your staff level up their careers and increase retention. That all contributes to a stronger customer experience.

How to create a bartending training manual

To build out a bartending training manual, you will need to take a holistic approach. The following can help.

Define your objectives

What do you want from a bartender? What should managers think when hiring bartenders? Consider the specific skills, knowledge, and behaviors you would like to instill in bartenders through your bartending training manual. 

Once you clearly define the objectives for your manual, you will know what needs to be included. From proper food handling practices to making specific drinks from your menu to upselling, defining what you want your bartenders to know will help structure the manual.

How to structure your training manual

Speaking of, after you define the objectives, it’s time to outline and structure your manual. Start with an outline that organizes all of the content you will cover into logical sections and subtopics. This will make it easier to start creating content.

A common structure may include:

  • An introduction to the bar or restaurant, including a breakdown of the clientele and mission of the establishment.

  • General skills you want bartenders to develop such as communication skills, bartending skills, alcohol training, and problem-solving skills.

  • Skills specific to your establishment you want bartenders to develop, like menu knowledge, upselling specifics, or how to handle side work.

  • Any values or rules you would like to have, from a commitment to continuous improvement to not drinking on the job.

When you have the broad strokes structure, start breaking it down into sections or chapters that cover bartender responsibilities. Organization is key.

Write engaging and clear content

A bartender training manual isn’t a comedy show, though it doesn’t have to be dry either. Use plain language, but strive for clarity, conciseness, and engagement. All of the information should be accessible to all trainees, which may mean offering it in multiple languages and sticking to a fourth-grade reading level.

When you cover more complex concepts, break them down into smaller units that are easier to read. Wherever possible, use visuals and examples to help readers understand exactly what you are trying to say. Items like infographics and case studies can be useful to illustrate key points.

And, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with the tone, too!

Include interactive elements

To reiterate the importance of clarity and practicality, interactive elements are another good way to make a bartending training manual less dry. These may include quizzes or role-playing scenarios to help stress important points. If you go through the bartending training manual in a group session, group activities or encouraging discussions and questions can break up the monotony.

Improve and update periodically

Your business isn’t static, your bartending training manual shouldn’t be either. As your business evolves, your manual should evolve as well.

Encourage feedback from your team, especially after they go through training and evaluation periods. Bartenders are on the front line of your business and they will understand your customers’ expectations and industry trends.

Likewise, stay open to evolving company policies, especially as your business grows. A bartender training manual is just one place where you discuss company policies with staff. Still, this manual is a good base for employees to let you know exactly how they feel about working for your bar or restaurant.

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Bartender training manual example

Again, every establishment’s bartender training manual may look a little different. There is a fairly extensive choice of sections you may use. You may not need all of the below sections.

Introduction to the bar

  1. Bar history and concept: The main idea behind your business and how long it has been a part of the community.

  2. Vision and mission statement: What are you building towards and why should bartenders feel excited about being a part of it?

  3. Core values and culture: Why should employees care about working here? What makes working here different than working at other bars?

Bar policies and standards

  1. Dress code and grooming standards: Some bars are more casual than others, but it’s still useful to express any dress code or grooming standards you would like to uphold. Whether you expect bartenders to wear bar merchandise or be clean-shaven, here is where to discuss.

  2. Alcohol service policies and legal responsibilities: Your alcohol service policies are specific to your establishment while legal responsibilities are more strictly regulated.

  3. Customer interaction guidelines: How do you expect bartenders to interact with customers?

  4. Cash handling and accountability: Everyone in the business is responsible for the safe handling of cash and contributing to the financial health of the business.

Bartending tools and equipment

  1. Overview of essential bar tools: Many bartenders may already know the tools based on past roles, but your bartending training manual should be thorough and cover the basics.

  2. Proper maintenance and care of bar equipment: Again, many bartenders may already know best practices, but don’t assume anything.

  3. Glassware knowledge and usage: From storage to cleaning policies, lay out all the expectations of your bar’s glassware policy.

Cocktail recipes and mixology techniques

  1. Classic cocktail recipes: This includes the well drinks your bar serves.

  2. Specialty cocktail recipes unique to the bar: Articulate how to make them and how to make them as mocktails.

  3. Mixing techniques and garnishing guidelines: How do expect bartenders to make drinks, and with how much garnish?

Responsible alcohol service

Each of the below points is fairly self-explanatory, but no less vital to include in your bartending training manual. Consult with a lawyer to make sure your bar’s training manual is worded correctly and is appropriately protecting the business and employees by offering the correct alcohol handling training.

  1. Laws and regulations related to alcohol service

  2. Identifying and handling intoxicated customers

  3. Preventing and managing underage drinking

Customer service skills

  1. Active listening and communication techniques: How much do you expect bartenders to upsell or guide patrons in drink choices?

  2. Establishing rapport with customers: You want loyal customers to keep coming back, and building rapport through customer interactions is a good way to do that.

  3. Handling customer complaints and difficult situations: Even if it’s just contacting a manager immediately, bartenders should understand company policy for handling complaints.

Bar set-up and organization

  1. Proper bar set-up and organization: Every bar looks a little different, so bartenders must know how to set up and maintain their well-stocked bar.

  2. Efficient use of space and equipment: Again, there’s only finite space. Expectations should be set out ahead of time.

  3. Bar cleanliness and organization standards: Health codes require proper bar cleanliness, and your bartender training manual should ensure bartenders are up to snuff.

Cash handling and POS system training

  1. Cash management and responsibility: Cash isn’t as common these days, so it’s all the more vital to properly ingrain cash management and accountability skills in bartenders.

  2. Order taking and processing payments through the POS system: Every bar has its own POS system and bartenders need to become fluent in the software.

  3. Managing tabs and splitting checks: Many of these skills can be done with restaurant technology. Bartenders must be trained on this tech.

Health and safety guidelines

  1. Food handling and safety standards: Every bartender should earn a food handler’s permit if they are selling food at the bar.

  2. Proper storage and rotation of perishable items: Everyone in the bar has a shared responsibility for food safety meaning that bartenders should receive food storage training.

  3. Emergency procedures: From first aid to fire safety, bartenders should have proper emergency training.

Closing procedures

  1. Closing checklists and duties: Your bartending training manual should establish how you expect employees to close up shop each night.

  2. Cash reconciliation and reporting: Bartenders must know how to properly reconcile cash sales with inventory and properly report for bookkeeping purposes.

  3. Cleaning and restocking protocols: Finally, to start the next day off right, the bar should be cleaned and restocked.

***

A bartender training manual is essential for any bar. It’s the most efficient way to instill your values in your staff and keep bartenders up to speed on how your business operates. That said, it shouldn’t remain static forever and you should make sure to regularly examine the effectiveness of your bar training checklist.

With this comprehensive guide, you will know how to create a bartender training manual and keep it updated going forward.

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