How to Hire a Bartender in Canada?
In the bustling world of hospitality, hiring the perfect bartender is crucial for your establishment in Canada. A skilled bartender can be the heart and soul of a bar, elevating the customer experience and maintaining your establishment’s reputation. However, finding professional bartenders can be quite a challenge, primarily due to their significant responsibility level.
The process of hiring a bartender might take longer compared to other positions; however, with its proven track record of sourcing talented individuals, Hookjobs specializes in connecting businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, with highly-skilled candidates in the hospitality industry.
In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how we find and hire the right bartender for your business in Canada.
How we Help you Hire a Bartender in Canada?
The process of hunting, evaluating, and hiring a professional bartender is a challenging one, requiring experience and expertise. Hookjobs has developed a step-by-step guideline for hiring skilled bartenders, which can help you promptly connect with bartending talents in Canada.
Here’s the flowchart recapitulating our hiring procedure:
1. Needs Analysis
When hiring a bartender in Canada, conducting a thorough needs analysis is crucial to ensure we find you the right candidate who can meet the specific requirements of your establishment. This is typically done through creating an initial inception report to determine the scope of your business.
Here are some key factors we consider during the needs analysis process:
- Understanding your establishment: We need to gain a comprehensive understanding of your client’s establishment, including the type of bar or restaurant, its atmosphere, target audience, and overall concept. For example, if you run a high-end cocktail bar, we would inquire about the types of cocktails you offer, your brand image, and the specific customer experience you aim to provide.
- Assessing service level: We should determine the desired level of service your client expects from their bartenders. We need to consider whether it is a casual or upscale establishment, the type of clientele you attract, and the level of customer interaction involved. This analysis will help us identify candidates with the appropriate customer service and communication skills.
- Essential bartender skills: We need to determine specific skills and qualifications necessary for a bartender in your establishment, including mixology, drink preparation techniques, knowledge of various spirits and cocktails, the ability to multitask and work in a fast-paced environment, and exceptional customer service skills. For example, suppose you run a craft beer bar. In that case, we look for candidates with a deep understanding of different beer styles, knowledge of brewing processes, and the ability to recommend beer pairings to customers.
- Considering operational needs: We need to evaluate the operational requirements of your client’s establishment, including peak hours, the volume of customers, and potential staffing gaps.
- Evaluating team dynamics: We should understand your client’s existing bar staff and their working dynamics. We need to determine the level of teamwork and collaboration required within the bar team. This analysis will help us identify candidates who can seamlessly integrate into the existing team and contribute to a positive work environment.
- Language requirements: Depending on your establishment’s location and customer demographics, we also assess if language skills are necessary for effective communication with customers. For example, suppose your bar caters to a diverse international clientele. In that case, we prioritize candidates fluent in languages commonly spoken by your target customers, such as English, French, or other relevant languages.
2. Job Posting
After determining the needs of your establishment, we move forward to promote your job opening and attract talented bartenders in Canada. We utilize various social media platforms and channels to reach an extensive network of potential bartending candidates.
Here’s an example of how we post your vacancy for the bartending position:
Job Title: Bartender
Job Description: We are currently seeking skilled bartenders to join our team at a popular upscale bar in downtown Toronto. As a bartender, you will play a vital role in providing exceptional drink service, creating delicious cocktails, and ensuring a memorable customer experience. This opportunity is perfect for individuals passionate about mixology, possess strong customer service skills, and thrive in a dynamic and fast-paced bar environment.
- Preparing and serving various classic and signature cocktails, such as a refreshing Mojito, a sophisticated Old Fashioned, or a creative Espresso Martini.
- Interacting with customers in a friendly and professional manner, taking drink orders, and providing personalized recommendations based on their preferences, for example, suggesting a smoky mezcal cocktail for a customer who enjoys bold flavors or a fruity mocktail for a designated driver.
- Maintaining a clean and organized bar area, including stocking top-shelf liquor, specialty glassware, and fresh garnishes like citrus twists or edible flowers.
- Handling cash transactions accurately and efficiently, processing payments, and providing change to customers.
- Monitoring and managing inventory levels and restocking supplies to ensure uninterrupted service.
- Creating innovative and unique drink recipes, keeping up-to-date with current mixology trends.
- Adhering to all relevant health and safety regulations, including responsible alcohol service guidelines. This includes monitoring customer alcohol consumption and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Engaging with customers, addressing any inquiries, concerns, or special requests promptly and courteously.
- Collaborating with the bar team to ensure smooth operations, assisting with cleaning glasses, garnishing drinks, and maintaining cleanliness throughout the bar.
- Previous experience as a bartender or in a similar role, preferably in a high-end bar or cocktail lounge.
- Strong knowledge of drink recipes, mixology techniques, and a passion for creating exceptional cocktails.
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to engage with customers in a friendly and professional manner. This includes providinge attentive and personalized service while managing a busy bar.
- Ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment, multitasking and prioritizing tasks effectively.
- Basic math skills for cash handling and inventory management.
- Understanding of responsible alcohol service practices and compliance with relevant regulations. This includes monitoring customer intoxication levels, checking IDs to ensure the legal drinking age, and refusing service when necessary.
- Ability to adapt to changing customer preferences and willingness to learn about new drink trends and ingredients. For instance, staying informed about the rise of low-alcohol or zero-proof cocktails and offering suitable options to customers.
- Eligibility to work in Canada and compliance with any necessary certifications.
1. Resume Screening
At Hookjobs, our recruiters thoroughly evaluate the resumes of all bartender applicants to identify the ideal candidates for your establishment. We meticulously screen out unqualified applicants and prioritize those with the necessary qualifications for further evaluation.
To ensure that a bartender can provide exceptional service to your patrons, we prioritize candidates with relevant certifications and strong mixology knowledge.
Here are some of the most essential bartending certifications in Canada that we review:
- SMART Serve: SMART Serve is a mandatory certification in many provinces across Canada, including Ontario. It focuses on responsible alcohol service and helps bartenders understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of serving alcohol. It covers topics such as checking IDs, recognizing signs of intoxication, and handling difficult situations.
- Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (CPBA): The CPBA offers certification programs to enhance bartending skills and professionalism. They provide training in cocktail creation, mixology techniques, and service standards. CPBA certifications can be a valuable addition to your resume, as they demonstrate a commitment to excellence in bartending.
- The Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP): This is a certification program focused on responsible alcohol service and management. It is specifically designed to promote safe and responsible practices in the hospitality industry, including bars and restaurants. While RAMP is not a bartending certification per se, it is highly valued and often required by employers in the alcohol service industry in Canada.
Other important certifications in different provinces of Canada are demonstrated in the following table:
Province / Territory
Newfoundland & Labrador
Prince Edward Island
When it comes to resume screening of bartending candidates, we consider the following key points:
We prioritize candidates with relevant experience, preferably in a fast-paced bar or restaurant environment. Previous experience demonstrates their ability to handle the demands of the job, such as preparing and serving drinks, mixing cocktails, and operating bar equipment efficiently.
We look for candidates who demonstrate a strong memory and the ability to recall information accurately and quickly. Bartenders often need to remember the names of different kinds of beverages, drink recipes, customer preferences, and orders without relying heavily on written notes.
Bartending can be physically demanding, requiring candidates to stand for long periods, lift heavy kegs or cases, and move quickly. Assess the candidate’s physical fitness and stamina.
Bartending often requires working closely with other staff members, such as servers, kitchen staff, or barbacks. We look for bartending candidates who have the experience of working well in a team environment and their willingness to collaborate with colleagues.
Bartenders may need to adapt to changes in schedules, menu items, or customer demands, so we need to check their flexibility and adaptability to different situations.
Depending on your bar’s demographics and customer base, language skills may be crucial for effective communication with patrons. We review candidates’ language proficiency, paying attention to their fluency in relevant languages your target clientele speaks. Strong language skills can enhance customer interactions and create a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
4. Job Interview
Following the resume screening step, we ask the selected bartending candidates to participate in an in-person interview with our recruiters.
We ask the candidates various general and technical bartending questions during the interviews, as follows:
- General Questions:
- What do you enjoy most about being a bartender?
- How do you tell if someone has had too much to drink?
- How do you handle intoxicated customers?
- How do you handle a busy bar?
- How do you deal with a dissatisfied customer?
- What do you do if you have a problem with a customer?
- Which safety certifications do you have?
- Have you had the opportunity to run a full bar or only a service bar?
- What was the working environment like in your previous bartending position?
- Technical Questions:
- What types of cocktails and beverages are you familiar with?
- Can you describe the process of making a classic cocktail of your choice?
- Do you have experience working with specialized equipment, such as a cocktail shaker or muddler?
- How do you handle different glassware and garnishes for various drinks?
- Can you explain the steps you would take to properly pour and serve a draft beer?
- Have you worked with any specific POS (Point of Sale) systems or cash handling procedures?
- What do you know about provincial liquor laws and responsible service requirements in Canada?
- Are you knowledgeable about wine, and can you recommend wine pairings with different dishes?
5. Checking References
When checking references for a bartending candidate in Canada, we systematically gather relevant information about the candidate’s previous job performance and work ethic via contacting former employers or supervisors.
By contacting the references, we can confirm the accuracy of the information provided on their resume or during the interview, helping us gauge their level of professionalism and responsibility. Moreover, as bartenders interact directly with customers, we must assess their interpersonal skills, ability to handle difficult situations, and customer service orientation.
The questions that our recruiters ask revolve around the following:
- the candidates’ bartending skills and knowledge
- their customer service abilities
- their ability to handle high-volume and fast-paced environments
- their teamwork and communication
- their responsible service and knowledge of liquor laws
- the former employers’ overall performance and recommendation
We finally document the responses by taking notes during the reference check conversations and solely share them with you. This documentation will help us compare the candidates with one another.
6. Assessing the Bartending Candidates
After checking references, we evaluate the bartending candidates’ skills in real-world scenarios, as follows:
- Mixology test: We test the bartending candidates’ mixology skills, such as shaking, stirring, muddling, layering, and building drinks, by asking them to create specific cocktails or provide recommendations for various drink preferences. We evaluate their knowledge of popular beverages, their speed and accuracy, ability to experiment with unique mixes, and awareness of current industry trends.
- Organization and efficiency: We assign the bartending applicants tasks requiring them to organize bar supplies, track inventory, or create a system for drink orders. We observe their organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to streamline processes to improve efficiency. We assess their time management skills and ability to prioritize tasks effectively.
- Composure and stress management: We design a high-pressure situation, such as a crowded bar or a customer dispute, to assess the bartending candidates’ multitasking abilities and ability to maintain composure. We observe how they handle stress, manage their emotions, and make rational decisions under pressure. We evaluate their ability to handle difficult situations calmly and professionally.
- Language proficiency assessment: We also gauge the prospective bartenders’ language skills. Based on your bar’s location, there may be international customers who would frequent your bar. To this end, we need to assess the candidates’ fluency, clarity of communication, and ability to understand customer requests.
- Soft skills: We evaluate the bartending candidates’ soft skills, such as communication, customer service, adaptability, teamwork, attention to detail, and emotional intelligence. This ensures they possess the necessary attributes to excel in their role and provide customer satisfaction in your bar.
7. Training the Bartenders
At your establishment, we offer comprehensive and tailored training programs to bartending candidates before hiring them. Our training program focuses on equipping candidates with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the unique environment of your bar.
Here are some critical components of our training program:
- Menu familiarization: We believe in the importance of knowing your menu inside out. Bartending candidates will receive detailed training on your drink menu, including understanding each beverage’s flavor profiles, ingredients, and presentation styles. This enables them to confidently recommend drinks and engage in knowledgeable conversations with your patrons.
- Bar etiquette and safety: Maintaining a safe and clean bar environment is paramount. We educate candidates on proper bar etiquettes, such as cleanliness, organization, and efficient workflow. Additionally, we prioritize safety protocols, including responsible alcohol service, handling potentially tricky situations, and ensuring the well-being of both staff and customers.
- POS system training: We provide comprehensive training on your specific POS system, ensuring candidates understand its functionalities, order processing, and payment procedures. This enables them to handle transactions seamlessly and minimize errors during busy shifts.
- Ongoing development: Our commitment to growth extends beyond initial training. We offer continuous learning opportunities, workshops, and team meetings to keep your bartenders updated with industry trends, new drink creations, and evolving customer preferences. This ensures they remain confident and adaptable in their roles.
8. Drawing up a Contract
The final stage in our hiring process involves drawing up a contract with the accepted bartending candidates. As legally sound agreements are crucial, we work closely with our legal advisors to draw up a comprehensive and fair contract with your new bartending staff.
Here are some steps we consider when drawing up a contract with the prospective bartenders:
- Job duties and responsibilities: We provide a detailed description of the bartender’s duties and responsibilities. This includes preparing and serving beverages, taking customer orders, maintaining the cleanliness of the bar area, ensuring customer satisfaction, and complying with relevant liquor laws and regulations.
- Training and certification: We specify any required training or certifications that the bartender needs before starting work. We will discuss whether you should pay for future training courses or the bartenders themselves.
- Shift flexibility: We outline the expected working hours and shifts for the bartender position. This includes information about regular hours and any flexibility required for evening, weekend, or holiday shifts, depending on your establishment’s operating hours.
- Payment terms: We clearly state how the bartender will be compensated, whether it is an hourly wage or salary. We specify the payment schedule, payment method, and any deductions or benefits (if applicable) under provincial employment standards.
- Breaks and rest periods: We state the guidelines for breaks, rest periods, and meal breaks in compliance with applicable labor laws. This ensures the bartender receives appropriate rest and meal breaks during their shift.
- Leave and time-off policies: We detail the policies regarding vacation leave, sick leave, personal days, and any other types of leave that the bartender may be eligible for. We also include the process for requesting and approving time off, considering the establishment’s needs and the bartender’s personal circumstances.
- Code of conduct and disciplinary procedures: We clearly define the expected code of conduct for the bartender. This includes guidelines for professional behavior, customer service standards, dress code, and any other relevant policies. We also outline the disciplinary procedures that may be implemented in the event of violations, ensuring a fair and consistent approach.
- Liability and insurance: We also include clauses regarding the bartender’s responsibility for their actions (such as selling an alcoholic beverage to a minor), the requirement for personal liability insurance, workplace insurance coverage, incident reporting procedures, and indemnification, ensuring compliance with laws and protecting both parties from potential risks.
- Termination terms: We specify the conditions under which either party may terminate the employment. This includes notice periods, severance pay (if applicable), and other relevant termination provisions under provincial employment laws.
Labour Laws and Regulations for Hiring a Bartender in Canada
Before hiring a bartender in Canada, you must acquit yourself with the applicable labor laws and regulations.
Below are some essential legal prerequisites that you must take into account:
- Employment standards: Familiarize yourself with federal, provincial, and territorial employment standards legislation. These laws establish minimum employment conditions, including wages, working hours, overtime pay, vacation entitlements, and termination procedures.
- Age requirements: In Canada, the legal drinking age varies by province or territory, ranging from 18 to 19 years old. When hiring a bartender, ensure that the individual meets the minimum age requirement to serve alcohol in your jurisdiction.
- Work permits: If you’re considering hiring a foreign bartender, ensure that they have the appropriate work permit or visa to legally work in Canada. You can consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for information on work permits and hiring foreign workers.
- Health and safety regulations: Comply with federal and provincial/territorial occupational health and safety regulations. Ensure that your workplace meets the necessary safety standards, including proper training, equipment, and procedures to prevent accidents and maintain a safe working environment.
- Payroll deductions and taxes: Familiarize yourself with payroll deduction requirements and tax obligations. Deduct the appropriate amounts for income tax, Employment Insurance (EI), and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions from your bartenders’ wages and remit them to the appropriate government authorities.
- Workplace discrimination and harassment: Ensure compliance with federal and provincial/territorial human rights legislation, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected grounds such as race, gender, religion, and disability. Implement policies and procedures to prevent and address workplace discrimination and harassment.
- Liquor licensing: Depending on the province or territory, establishments that serve alcohol may require specific liquor licenses or permits. Familiarize yourself with the licensing requirements in your jurisdiction to ensure legal compliance when hiring a bartender.
- Privacy laws: Comply with federal and provincial/territorial privacy laws when collecting, using, and storing employees’ personal information. Ensure that you have appropriate privacy policies and procedures to safeguard employee data.
What is the Average Wage for Hiring a Bartender in Canada?
The average wage for hiring a bartender in Canada can vary depending on factors such as the region, the type of establishment, the bartender’s experience level, and other considerations. The average annual salary for bartenders in Canada is around $33,150, which equates to approximately $17 per hour. Beginners in the field can expect starting salaries of about $29,250 per year, while those with extensive experience can earn up to $39,000 per year.
The average wage for hiring a bartender varies in different provinces of Canada. The following table illustrates the average wages for hiring a bartender in different provinces of Canada:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Different Types of Bartenders we Hire in Canada
A mixologist is a highly skilled bartender specializing in creating innovative and unique cocktails. They have extensive knowledge of various spirits, liqueurs, and mixers, and they use their creativity to craft complex and visually appealing drinks.
Flair bartenders are known for their entertaining and showy style of bartending. They incorporate impressive bottle flipping, juggling, and other tricks into their service, providing a visually exciting experience for customers.
A classic bartender focuses on traditional cocktail-making techniques and drinks. They excel in preparing classic cocktails like Old Fashioned, Martini, Negroni, and have a deep understanding of the history and recipes behind these iconic drinks.
These bartenders specialize in wines and are knowledgeable about different grape varieties, regions, and pairings. They can recommend and serve wines to customers based on their preferences and provide guidance on food and wine pairings.
A beer bartender or cicerone has expertise in different types of beers, including craft beers and microbrews. They can guide customers in selecting the right beer based on taste preferences, offer suggestions for beer flights, and provide information about brewing techniques and beer styles.
Speed bartenders excel at working in high-volume establishments, such as nightclubs or busy bars. They prioritize efficiency and are skilled at quickly taking orders, making multiple drinks simultaneously, and providing fast service to customers.
Tiki bartenders specialize in tropical and exotic cocktails, often associated with Polynesian or Caribbean themes. They have expertise in creating visually appealing and flavorful tiki drinks, using unique ingredients and incorporating elaborate garnishes.
Craft cocktail bartenders use high-quality, artisanal ingredients to create finely crafted cocktails. They often emphasize using fresh fruits, homemade syrups, and bitters to elevate the flavor profiles of their drinks.
Barista bartenders combine the skills of a bartender and a barista. They are proficient in making coffee-based cocktails and are knowledgeable about different coffee brewing methods, latte art, and espresso-based drinks.
Although not strictly a bartender, the bar manager oversees the overall operations of the bar. They are responsible for staff management, inventory control, menu development, and ensuring a smooth and efficient bar operation.
Hiring a professional bartender is a crucial step in ensuring the success of your bar or restaurant. Bartenders should be among your most adaptable and multitasker team members. Finding such cocktail connoisseurs can be daunting, as the role requires a unique blend of technical expertise, creativity, and exceptional customer service skills. However, Hookjobs understands the urgency of finding the perfect bartender for your establishment in Canada. With our extensive sourcing data and efficient processes, we are dedicated to connecting you with qualified bartending candidates as quickly as possible while simplifying the hiring process and providing tailored solutions that align with your needs.
Are bartenders in demand in Canada?
Bartending is a popular profession in Canada, particularly in urban areas with a vibrant nightlife and hospitality industry. For Bartenders, over the period 2022-2031, new job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) are expected to total 11, 200.
How many hours do bartenders typically work in Canada?
Bartenders tend to work between 30 to 40 hours per week, depending on several factors, including the specific bar, restaurant, club, or other establishments they work at.
Are there any age restrictions for hiring a bartender in Canada?
In Canada, one must be at least 18 years old to Bartend.
Are there any regulations on serving intoxicated customers?
Yes, there are regulations in Canada that require bartenders and establishments to refuse service to intoxicated individuals. Responsible alcohol service programs educate bartenders on identifying signs of intoxication and implementing measures to prevent overconsumption.
Are there restrictions on serving alcohol during certain hours?
Each province and territory in Canada has its own regulations regarding the hours alcohol can be served, typically from 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM. These regulations may vary, so it is vital to consult the specific liquor licensing authority in your province or territory for information on serving hours.
What are the typical working hours for bartenders in Canada?
Bartenders in Canada typically work evening and night shifts, as these are the busiest times for bars and restaurants. Their schedules often include weekend shifts and public holidays, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
What qualifications and experience should a bartender have?
A bartender should have knowledge of beverages, mixology skills, excellent customer service, communication abilities, familiarity with bar equipment and alcohol laws, industry experience, physical stamina, and cash-handling proficiency.
Can I hire international bartenders in Canada?
Yes, it is quite possible. However, you should use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP) to hire foreign workers. This would involve obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to demonstrate the need for hiring international bartenders.