The Barback – The Hero Without A Name

magine this. You’re at a bar waiting for your drink to arrive. The bartender is busy mixing drinks and doing all sorts of crazy gymnastics with them. Suddenly you notice another fellow running back and forth behind the bar.

He is not interacting with the customers but just doing his job. He is continually looking to and fro, nervously fidgeting and generally in a constant state of chaos. This fellow is what is known as a barback. The barback is also known as a ‘bar backer’ or ‘runner’. 

Who Is A Barback?

In simple words, a barback is the bartender’s assistant. Think of it this way. While the bartender may be the captain of the ship, the barback is the engineer responsible for keeping a check on how things are on the ship. In case of emergencies, the barback is the one who rushes in to solve the problem, to contain the chaos.

The barback is not the one who gets the recognition. However, one should realise that the barback is the operational core of the bar.

Role Of A Barback

So what does a barback do? Let’s discuss what responsibilities the barback has.

●           Before The Shift Starts

  • We are restocking the bar station with straws and napkins for the next shift.
  • It was storing the shipments of liquor that arrived the day before or during the day itself.

●           During the Shift

  • Ensuring the counters, as well as tables, are cleaned.
  • Cleaning cutlery items, including glasses and dishes
  • Cleaning behind the bar and mopping the area.
  • Throwing the trash out throughout the shift after regular intervals
  • Ensuring the bar stays stocked at all times, and restocking the bottles as and when necessary. 
  • He/she replaces kegs for the beer.
  • He/she refill ice trays after regular intervals.

●           After The Shift

  • He/she cleans spillage on the floor.
  • A barback packs everything up for the shift the next day.
  • Make a daily record of the business conducted.
  • Tracking inventory levels and making a note of supplies required.

How Much Can You Make As A Barback?

A common question aspiring bartenders applying for the role of barbacks ask is, “how much does a barback make?”

Barbacks typically receive minimum wage salaries. However, they do receive a portion of the total tips the bartender receives. Depending on how densely packed the bar is on a given day, the barback can receive anywhere between 1-2% of the total sales for the day.

How Do You Become A Barback?

Becoming a barback is typically seen as a stepping stone to getting that dream bartending job. Think of it as being an intern for the bartender and learning on the job till you can get the work done on your own.

If you’ve already made up your mind to apply for a barback position, read on as now, we’ll discuss some of the relevant skills that you must develop to succeed as a barback. Be warned that you need to slog day in and day out to get to a point where you can call yourself a successful barback. The list of most expensive alcohols

That being said, let’s jump into some of the areas to work on to be a desirable candidate for a barback position.

●           Hard Skills:

  • Knowledge regarding the bar: A barback must have sufficient knowledge about the entire bar environment and the different types of drinks that are served in the bar.
  • Skills in the Kitchen: A barback is expected to be adept at minor workings of the kitchen, and is expected to help out when required.

●           Soft Skills:

  • The ability to handle pressure: This is the most critical skill to master. You’ll be working under immense pressure on the job and thus need to be adept at it beforehand. The irony is, however, that this skill only develops as a result of being placed under pressure. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be the best you can be.
  • The ability to multitask: As a barback, you’ll be dealing with multiple tasks at the same time. You have to be comfortable being in a position where you have several things lined up to be done. You need to be able to maximise the output from the time you have on the job.
  • Being adept at Customer Service: You probably won’t be interacting with customers to a great extent. However, you must master this skill since you will be asked to take control in times of emergencies. If that happens, you will be expected to deliver to the customers and to ensure they are satisfied. Make sure you hone this skill before joining as a barback. That will give you the extra edge for a successful career ahead. 

Upon honing these skills, you need to start applying for barback positions in your area. Developing both the hard as well as the soft skills ensures that you’ll be difficult to turn down for the role.


A job as a barback is a great first step towards a successful career as a bartender. However, the job carries a lot of weight and is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

 Ask yourself whether you’re prepared to tackle the challenges and deal with the pressure, whether you believe you’re prepared to bear the brunt of the bartending job without its perks, to survive without glamour or recognition.

If the answer’s yes, then the job’s for you. I congratulate you. You’re a hero, without a name.

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