What Skills Do I Need as a Cocktail Server?

B. Miller

A cocktail server is an individual who serves drinks in a restaurant or lounge type environment, going back and forth between the customers in the establishment and the bartender. It is often more challenging than a standard server job, because customers ordering drinks might move around, so the cocktail server will need to remember what they looked like and what they ordered. It is also necessary for cocktail servers to have extensive knowledge of the drinks the establishment serves, the varieties of alcohol, and how they can be modified at the customer's request. It is important for a server to be friendly and welcoming, but to follow any relevant laws as well, and not to serve liquor to anyone without checking ID.

Martinis are a common drink that a cocktail server might serve.
Martinis are a common drink that a cocktail server might serve.

One of the most important job duties of a cocktail server is to make sure the guests of the restaurant are having a good time. To that end, some of the most important skills include a friendly, polite, and professional demeanor, and a willingness to provide great customer service no matter what else is happening. It will likely be a busy, fairly stressful environment, so it is important to be able to remain calm, and meticulously keep track of various customers and drink orders while moving quickly.

Cocktail servers bring drink orders to bartenders.
Cocktail servers bring drink orders to bartenders.

Even though a cocktail server might not be the person who is directly preparing the drinks, he or she still needs to know how every drink on the menu is made, and what the ingredients are. Customers will likely ask questions about certain drinks or even ask for recommendations, and a cocktail server who can provide good information will get better tips. He or she should also be aware of what types and brands of alcohol are in stock. Before serving drinks, however, a server will have to check ID and make sure that the customer is of legal age, which varies in different countries.

Politeness is a key factor for a cocktail server to have.
Politeness is a key factor for a cocktail server to have.

There are some practical skills that are needed to be a cocktail server as well. The ability to write up a check, accurately count money, and to clear and set tables are all requirements of the job. If guests are angry or dissatisfied, the server might have to take steps to resolve the problem, or get management involved. In addition, the cocktail server and/or the bartender may need to cut someone off if they have had too much to drink, for their safety and the safety of others, so it is important not to be shy or easily intimidated.

A cocktail server should have good math skills as well as an upbeat demeanor.
A cocktail server should have good math skills as well as an upbeat demeanor.

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Discussion Comments


Speaking of a cocktail server, this article actually reminds me of a funny story. Many years ago, when I was around the age of ten, I didn't know that you needed to be a specific age to consume alcoholic beverages.

When I was out with my family at a restaurant. I asked to order a Bloody Mary. The waitress said she would accept, as long as I showed proper identification. I was really confused, but my parents started laughing, as they knew exactly what was going on.


@RoyalSpyder - I really like how you bring up the point about rude customers. Whether you're a waiter or a cocktail server, I think that one thing most people need to realize is no matter how nice you are, there will always be those who are very rude. A lot of the time, you shouldn't take it personally though. After all, maybe they're just having a bad day, and they don't know how to handle their emotions.

Obviously, that doesn't mean it's right for them to be rude to you, however, the most important thing of all is that you have a job you're working at, and lashing out might cause you to get in trouble.


For those who want to be a cocktail server, one recommendation I have for you is that you learn all the skills of being a waiters/waitress as well. Between the hustle and bustle of working, as well as dealing with customers (rude and patient alike), they have some striking similarities. In fact, you could even consider yourself a waiter, with the only difference being that you only serve cocktails, and not an endless variety of food.

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