Category Archives for "Bartending 101"

1 How Much do Bartenders Make?

how much do bartenders make

Or more accurately, this article should be titled “How Much do Bartenders REALLY Make” because a wide chasm exists between what they claim and what they actually make, which makes this a common and intriguing question, and one I get a lot.

A bartender’s income is not like traditional jobs that have a salary or wages. Tips turn everything topsy turvy.

And the answer to this question is going to vary based on where you live (i.e. Bismarck, ND vs. Las Vegas, NV).

I have actually already answered this question in yesterday’s blog post, Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree: Where do Bartenders Rank?

So you can click on the link and read that blog post, or I will simply repeat all the relevant details from that article here of how much bartenders REALLY make in this industry.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

And if YOU want to make this same type of money and become one of those rockstar bartenders you always see when you go out partying, CLICK HERE to learn more and see if registration is open.

Now let’s move on to the the old BLS and see what they have to say.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics ridiculously states on their website that bartenders earn $19,530 annually.

They also claim that bartenders make on average $11.59/hr. They should just remove the “L” from the BLS because if you were to ask any bartender you ever met how much they make, it would be approximately 3 times that number (but shhhhhhhh…don’t tell anyone).

Let’s take a look at this: the absolute MINIMUM nationally anyone who brings in tips can make is $7.25/hr.

Some states can actually pay as low as $2.13 per hour for employees receiving tips, but with their tips they must make at least $7.25 per hour. It’s the law.

So at the very least, this stat conveys that bartenders only make $4.34 per hour in tips. And that’s assuming you’re being paid $2.13 per hour!

If you’re being paid $10 per hour like most people, this stat claims that bartenders are making $1.59 per hour in tips.

In their defense, the BLS is only recording what is claimed by bartenders, but there should be an asterisk next to that number on their site, because they MUST realize that this stat is false.

Here are my facts. I contacted and interviewed 100 bartenders from different states across the country (and remember that this includes slow lunch shifts at the bar on the side of i-80 running through Dexter, Iowa, as well as some Vegas & New York bartenders bringing in $800 per night).

The AVERAGE bartender in the United States (According to TheRealBureauMan):

  • Works 3.5 shifts per week
  • Works 24.5 hours per week
  • Earns $9.25 per hour in wages
  • Earns $193 per shift in tips

This comes out to $902.50 per week ($227 in wages + $675.50 in tips)

Multiply that by 52 weeks and were talking $46,930. Not bad, not great. We haven’t cracked the top 5 yet, but i’m not finished.

The most interesting thing about these stats is the hourly amount earned with wages and tips, which in this case works out to be $36.84 per hour.

Something else that isn’t factored in when the BLS created  their top 10 list of highest-paying jobs without a degree is that all those other jobs assume a 40 hour work week.

So allow me to make a similar assumption here in favor of the new bartending facts we have stumbled across.

$36.84 x 40 = $1,473.60 per week

$1,450.80 x 52 weeks = $76,627 per year

That’s amazing money for someone without extensive education, training or even intelligence for that matter. And even though my math is only based on 100 bartenders, you can certainly see how bartending is going to be extremely profitable for anyone looking for a blue collar job that acts like a mini-rock star profession in disguise.

The undeniable fact is, bartenders are killing it, and the industry is going nowhere but up.

If you’re thinking of getting into bartending, stop thinking. Get on it. It will be a wild and profitable trip you won’t want to miss.

CLICK HERE if you want to learn more on How to Become a Bartender.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB

Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree: Where Do Bartenders Rank?

For those of you out scouring the Internet for the highest-paying jobs without a degree, you have perhaps come across numerous websites listing their top 10 or 20 jobs that pay the most without a degree, which were most likely quoted directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) file.

So let’s quickly take a look at this list (top 10) before moving on to answer the question this blog post poses.


10. Power Plant Operators: $65,000

9. Farmers and Ranchers: $68,000

8. Power Distributors & Dispatchers: $70,000

7. Dental Hygienist: $71,000

6. Detectives & Criminal Investigators $73,000

5. Commercial Airline Pilots: $74,000

4. Nuclear Power Operators: $74,500

3. Elevator Installers/Repairers: $76,000

2. Radiation Therapist: $77,500

1. Transportation and Distribution Manager: $120,000

Before I move on to why bartending is actually in the top 5 of this list and the reasons why it’s a clear choice, let me mention a couple of things:

First, I know that if I was searching for the highest paying job without a degree it would be for something I could get into quickly and move up the payment ladder as fast as possible. Some of these jobs are nearly as intensive to learn as going to college.

Some of these simply don’t cut it, like Nuclear Reactor Operators or Police Detective. What average American is going to be a police detective?

You have to have a 400 IQ to be one of those guys. And #1 on the list: Transportation and Distribution Manager. According to the BLS, you have to have 5 years experience, so that’s basically the same thing as going to college. It shouldn’t even be listed, even though technically you don’t need a degree.

Now, since you’re on a bartending website, you’ve probably noticed that bartending is not on this list, and this is because the Bureau of Labor lists the average median income of a bartender to be $19,530.

If you were to put a room full of bartenders together and ask if this number was true, they would most likely howl in laughter until they peed themselves.

This is because (which anyone in the bar/restaurant industry knows) servers and bartenders do not claim anything close to what they actually make in tips.

This can cause problems for the bar or restaurant because if the employees are claiming too low on tips, they can be audited by the IRS, because the IRS wants their mother-f-ing money, y’all.

It’s a rare to get audited though, and every place I have ever worked, I have watched bartenders who just made $400 in tips clock out and claim $40.

I’m not saying I support this (in case I’m being “Big-Brothered” by the IRS right now), but it’s simply a fact. Speaking of facts, let’s look at a few.

The Bureau claims that bartenders make on average $11.59/hr. The absolute MINIMUM nationally anyone who brings in tips can make is $7.25/hr. It’s the law that employees have to make at least this amount.

So at the very least, this stat states that bartenders only make $4.34 per hour in tips. AT THE VERY LEAST.

That sort of naiveté makes me think that Patrick from Sponge Bob has been hired to head up the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are my facts. I contacted and interviewed 100 bartenders from different states across the country (and remember that this includes slow lunch shifts at the bar on the side of i-80 running through Dexter, Iowa, as well as some Vegas & New York bartenders bringing in $800 per night).

The AVERAGE bartender in the United States (According to TheRealBureauMan):

  • Works 3.5 shifts per week
  • Works 24.5 hours per week
  • Earns $9.25 per hour in wages
  • Earns $189 per shift in tips

This comes out to $888.50 per week ($227 in wages + $661.50 in tips)

Multiply that by 52 weeks and were talking $46,930. Not bad, not great. We haven’t cracked the top 5 yet, but i’m not finished.

The most interesting thing about these stats is the hourly amount earned with wages and tips, which in this case works out to be $36.84 per hour.

Something else that isn’t factored in when the BLS created  their top 10 list of highest-paying jobs without a degree is that all those other jobs assume a 40 hour work week.

So allow me to make a similar assumption here in favor of the new bartending facts we have stumbled across.

$36.84 x 40 = $1,473.60 per week

$1,450.80 x 52 weeks = $76,627 per year

That technically puts bartending at #2 on the list, without extensive education, training or even intelligence. And even though my math is only based on 100 bartenders, you can certainly see how bartending would at the very least crack the top 10 for anyone working full time.

And even if you don’t want to factor in my 100 bartender survey because you don’t know where they came from or you don’t trust me, you can’t deny that with wages and tips, there is NO WAY the average bartender makes less than $25 per hour (still a ridiculously low and exaggerated estimate but I’m trying to make a point), which multiplied by 40 hours per week and 52 weeks still equals $52,00 per year.

That’s conservative, and STILL not too shabby.

So to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even if you are watching, your facts are about as reliable as a Chrysler Geo.

The bartending profession is hands down one of the best and highest paid jobs you can get without a degree. And with only a couple weeks of training.

And if you don’t believe me, go ask the next bartender you’re sitting in front of at the bar how much he/she makes and you’ll see that my numbers are far more realistic to the Bureau’s.

If you want to learn more on How to Become a Bartender, CLICK HERE.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB


Should You Go to Bartending School?

Just so y’all are aware, this video is a 2nd edition. Years ago I had a video by the same title, but since then my stance has changed just a teensy bit (but not much) on bartending schools and whether you should go.

Check out the video and email me if you have any questions.

And if you want to ACTUALLY become a bartender and not just learn the skills of bartending like they teach in other schools, CLICK HERE to find out how my students do it and why we have the #1 program in the industry.


Dave, The RB

2 Do I Need a Bartending License or Certificate to Become a Bartender?

how to become a bartender

There are two specific questions I get more than all the other questions combined from aspiring bartenders looking to break into the industry, and they are:

  1. Do I need a bartending license or certificate to become a bartender?
  2. Should I go to bartending school?

In this post I will answer the first question, and if you want the answer to the 2nd question (and most of you will because you’re curious go-getters), go ahead and check out Should You Go to Bartending School.

So I’m not going to waste a bunch of time with an intro to this post, talking about the bartending life and why you should do it. That’s not why you came here, so let’s get straight to the point.

The answer is: No…with an asterisk.

The fact is, you DO NOT need a license or certificate to become a bartender like they might require someone to have a real estate license. This is why when bartending schools offer a certificate to their “graduating” students, it makes me giggle. They literally print these things up from a Word template they made. For helping you get a job, they’re worth the same as an aluminum can you recycle. About 1/4 of a cent.

However, some states require that you take an alcohol awareness class for safety reasons so that you serve alcohol responsibly to your guests. This is similar to the food handlers card required by most states for employees who work in bars and restaurants that serve food. They’re safety courses.

They do not teach you anything that has to do with bartending or getting a job. They assume you already have the skills and possibly even the job and that you simply need to go through the safety training so we don’t have over-intoxicated buffoons swarming and stumbling through the streets.

With that said, below is a chart that shows the states that require such alcohol awareness training.

And as far as becoming a bartender and landing a job, CLICK HERE if you really want to learn how it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers, until next time.

Dave, The RB

1 10 Reasons Why Starbucks Baristas Make Awesome Bartenders

how to become a bartender

I believe in full transparency, so for those of you who don’t know me, I help people become bartenders. It’s one of the main things I do, which is how this whole experiment with Starbuck’s began about a year ago.

If you want to learn more about how to become a bartender like my other former barista students have done, CLICK HERE to see how I guide my students to the promised land very quickly. You’ll need to see if registration is open right now, as we only open it every few weeks for a short period of time.

The fact of the matter is, I love Starbuck’s. I don’t really drink the coffee there because if I’m spending $5 for liquid in a cup it’ll be for a beer or really cheap whiskey, and not sugar-bloated sludge.

However, I love the FEEL of Starbuck’s. I’ll tag along with my wife just so I can hang out.  Despite their obvious corporate dominance, it doesn’t feel corporate. They’ve done a masterful job of creating an atmosphere that makes you want to lounge for a few hours and steal their wi-fi.

In addition, they always have all sorts of nooks and crannies to sit in, and I’ve even been in some of their locations that have a comfy chair or two that belong in a master study in your house, where you might sit in a smoking jacking reading Tolstoy with a cigar and a snifter of brandy.

But the thing I’ve always noticed about this mega-conglomerate coffee house is their staff. It was about a year ago when I was in one of the Starbuck’s with my wife, waiting for her non-fat-skinny-chai-frappuccino-double-espresso-shot-extra-chocolate-extra-hot-latte the other day, that I started to marvel at what little efficiency machines they were.

Not that I didn’t already know this. I have watched them casually before, but now I started comparing them to some of the garbage bartenders I’ve witnessed while out with friends, and I couldn’t help but think that if they were working for me, I wouldn’t even have to train them that much. They were already doing most of the things that my staff was doing, but instead of being rewarded for it, they were making A LOT less money doing it. I’m talking the difference of $10/hr. to $50/hr.

It seems they don’t realize just how valuable they are, so they often stay stuck in the same job making the same low-income, yet they provide such remarkable service.

That’s when I made a decision to start targeting Starbuck’s employees to become bartenders and take my course, and within a couple of months, I had a long list of Starbuck’s baristas becoming bartenders and changing their lives around. It was AWESOME!

It’s always nice when an experiment pans out, but it wasn’t just me. Starbuck’s must have a great training program, because the transition is practically seamless for them.

With that said, let’s look at why it’s so seamless, and while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and count down from 10 to 1 David Letterman style, because I miss Dave’s blatant sarcasm and back-handed wit. He deserves a tribute as special as this.


10. They’re used to being on their feet for long hours. In some professions you sit in a cubicle all day, or sell cars in the show room, or spend time on a roof hammering tile nails in the 98 degree heat. Baristas and bartenders both move quickly on their feet for 6 – 8 hours at a time which is right up their ally, because they don’t like sitting and they don’t like roofing in July.

9. They already know how to use a POS system and cash register. Seems like small potatoes, but if you’re experience is more in the area of typing out reports, using a POS system and handling cash and end-of-shift reports would be completely foreign to you.

8. They’re used to working in crowded spaces. Baristas and bartenders are like those little worker ants who scurry around looking for pieces of whatever so they can stock up for the winter. If you watch them, they bump into each other briefly before moving on quickly to their next task. Same thing with baristas and bartenders: they move between and around each other quickly and efficiently to make sure their guests don’t go empty in the winter…or other seasons.

7. They are fast, with a sense of urgency. This piggy-backs on #8. This is why I believe the Starbuck’s training program is probably pretty good, because people in general don’t hustle on their own. They need a supervisor or a coach or a really good whipping to put them in that frame of mind. We all know that bartenders can get crazy-busy making drinks in a high-volume bar, but I’ve seen Starbuck’s baristas move with the best of them to get the drinks out, which is just plain good customer service.

6. They’re well-trained. I know I’ve already said this one, but it needs its own spot on the list because it’s important. In TheRealBarcourse, I teach people with absolutely no experience how to become bartenders quickly, and we have a high-success rate, so you can imagine what a well-trained, fast-moving barista could do,

5. They have energy. Don’t overlook this one. Not to bag on Walmart and the jobs they provide, but have you ever received “good” energy or a positive vibe from the staff? I know they have great prices and all, but by the time I walk out with my deodorant and toothpaste, I feel a sort of depression seeping into my pores. No energy. When you walk into Starbuck’s, or a bar/club that’s really poppin’, you feel a good energy, and it’s because the staff is hustling and bustling and smiling and they at least make you feel like you matter.

4. They have a good memory. Have you ever walked into a Starbuck’s and noticed that the person taking the orders knows the name of about half the people who walk in? Not to mention they are looking at tickets and busting out multiple drinks at a time. You can’t do that if you have to keep looking back and referring to the print outs or people would never get their drinks. Same thing with bartending. As a bartender, you should be able to hold 10 drinks in your head that were ordered at one time and then go bust them out. Practice with this makes it easier.

3. They mix stuff together, just like bartenders do. It’s true. They blend together more frothy concoctions before 9:00 a.m. than cocktails made in one night by a bartender at a Miami nighclub. All they need to do to make the transition is mix different liquids in different containers, but it’s the same concept.

2. They multitask. This is one of the most important skills a bartender can have, which is why it’s listed at #2 obviously. I have (regretfully) hired bartenders who can only make one drink at a time before they take the next order, and it kills sales…and their tips. From what I’ve witnessed, Starbuck’s baristas can multitask with the best of them.

And the #1 reason why Starbuck’s employees make awesome bartenders is….

1. Because their friendly-can-do-service-oriented attitude is off the frickin’ charts. I really should use the full swear word here because it’s aptly appropriate. Whatever Starbuck’s is doing to train their staff, I want to steal it and keep it in my pocket forever, because it works. They greet you immediately when you walk in, they smile, they joke, they laugh, they know your name if you’re a regular. They deliver your drinks quickly and they do it over and over again. I am a deep believer that customer service is the #1 factor bar owners and managers need to be focusing on to keep their place (or make their place) a hot spot.

I love Starbuck’s employees. I love hiring Starbuck’s employees at my bar. I love recruiting Starbuck’s employees at my bar.

If you want to find out if you have what it takes, simply click on the link below.

CLICK HERE to check out TheRealBarCourse

If not, keep making those lattes, baby because my wife certainly appreciates you!

Thanks for hanging out.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB

Does Fireball Whisky Actually Have Antifreeze?

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” class=”cs-ta-center” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text style=”text-size:1.5em;”]Not too long ago Sweeden, Norway and Finland banned Fireball because they claimed it contained the same toxins as antifreeze. True, or urban legend?

TheRealBarman lays out the truth.[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”max-height:600px;”][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

How to Become a Bartender With Absolutely No Experience

how to become a bartender

Before we dive into all the details of how to become a bartender, I have to ask you, Mr./Ms. aspiring bartender, how did you happen to arrive here?

And I don’t mean to this site or this article? I mean, what has been going through your head in the past few days or weeks which has led you to a decision that bartending might be the life for you?

Sorry to pry, but I like walking down a path together, holding hands (don’t worry, mine are soft and sexy).

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Dave Allred, TheRealBarman. For the past 6 years I have had the #1 book on Amazon on how to become a bartender. You can check it out HERE if you’re interested.

Since then I have created a master course to the book with 40 videos and 101 lessons, called TheRealBarcourse which is selling out every session. You can learn more about that HERE.

But back to why you’re here…

So what I want to know about you is, how did you get here?

Are you completely green and new onto the scene? That’s fine. All of us were at one point.

Are you fed up with making minimum wage and finally want a job that actually makes money?

I spent 3 years woking retail for minimum wage.

In a used CD store.

That sold bongs and adult paraphernalia in the back.


Or are you simply a young go-getter who is entering the real job world and wants a job that actually makes money? Good for you!

Or maybe you just want a part time job, but one that actually makes money (Anyone sensing a pattern here?).

Whatever the case may be, I want to know, because this could be a life-changing moment for you and I want to be there cheering you on…

…while holding one of those giant #1 fingers in my left hand and a glass of Whistle Pig Rye swirling in my right hand.

So here it is, you want to know how to become a bartender?

Good, take your A.D.D. hat off and pay attention for a quick second.

The most important step to becoming a bartender is making a plan beyond just learning a few skills.

What does that mean exactly? It means that becoming a bartender is more than just shaking up martinis and jiggling your ass.

It’s means it’s more than just the skills they teach in 98% of bartending schools. What they are teaching will not help you land the job.

Becoming a bartender is a simple step-by-step process, but it takes discipline and a take-no-shit mindset to see it through to the end, and every single student of mine that has stuck to the plan and saw it through, got the job. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

So what does that include? It’s different than every other video, blog post or bartending school you’ll find on the Internet or elsewhere. Here’s the premise:

  • Learn the skills
  • Memorize some drinks
  • Create an awesome cover letter and resume
  • Set Goals
  • Make a plan
  • Take action to follow the plan
  • Don’t quit the plan until the goal is reached

Sure, there’s a bunch of details in between all that, but that’s what it takes. It involves mindset over just memorizing 500 drink recipes, which is what all other schools and courses fail to address.

It’s why YOU will be getting the job while the traditional bartending school graduate is telling the hiring manager how he knows what goes in a 3-Dollar Hooker Shot because he memorized 2,000 drinks that he’ll never make.

You need to know that. Just memorizing drinks is NOT the core lesson you need in order to become a bartender.

Bartending schools that brag about their 2,000 CD rom of drink recipes are offering are selling you something you don’t need. Like sand, in a desert.

The skills and knowledge are important, but only one cog in the machine. You need to be firing on all cylinders or you’re not going to break into this scene.

So here’s the deal: in order for you to become a rock star bartender, you need to have a rock star mindset. You need to draw your line in the sand, create some chaos and get excited.

You need to get excited. Feeding frenzies need blood and if the water is calm and clear, nothing substantial is going to happen. You need to dive in and wrestle with some sharks.

So get big. And I mean BIG. Big in mind. Big in heart. Big like King Kong. On steroids. And crack. And heroin. And Steroids laced with heroin. And crack.

Got it? Good.

With that said, if you want glimpse into what I do, CLICK HERE to check out TheRealBarcourse, which is unlike any school or online course you’ll find.

And when you order the course it’s delivered directly to your doorstep, with a small kitten included.

Ok, just kidding. The course isn’t delivered to your doorstep. This is the 21st century. You have to download your kitten.

And if you want to find your path somewhere else, I’m fine with that too. I’m just here to help.

Best of luck to you, and I hope to see you on the other side.


Dave, The RB

15 10 Greatest TV and Movie Bartenders of All Time

Someone emailed me the other day and asked me who I thought the greatest Hollywood bartender of all time was, and seeing as I have chosen to unearth and report all things bar-related in the industry (and perhaps occasionally outside the industry), I decided to do better than simply name the single greatest silver screen bartender, and rank, categorize and index the greatest ten.


What I found disappointed the shit out of me.  Of the ten listed, only two of them show any evidence of ever getting laid.  These are bartenders, for Christ’s sake!


Even so, after 18 hours of deliberation and shaking my head in disgust, here is my list for greatest television and movie bartenders of all time.  At the end, I would love to hear your opinions, but please don’t tell me that Jackie Gleason or the guy from A Wonderful Life belong on this list or I will have to bang my head on my keyboard for the next six hours.  Those characters only had sex to procreate and I’m not having it.  Here’s how I see it:


#10  Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie  in From Dusk Till Dawn

Danny Trejo

Not a big role, but anytime a bartender turns into a vampire, you have to put him in the top ten list or he might climb through my window at 4:00 a.m. and t-bone my neck.  Trejo was also the bartender in one of my other favorites, Anchorman, which must also be mentioned simply because it’s one of  my favorite scenes in the movie:


Trejo: “You know, times are changing. Ladies can do stuff now. And you’re gonna have to learn how to deal with that.”

Ron: “What? Were you saying something? Look, I don’t speak Spanish.”


#9  Joe Turkel as Lloyd in The Shining

Creepy Lloyd

I gotta be honest, if I was forced to choose who to go one-on-one with in a dark closet, I’d take on Razor Charlie the vampire any day before I mess with Lloyd.


He is flat out SHUDDERSOME!  That deadpan face and his calm, polite replies are dead giveaways to a dark satanic power you don’t want to fuck with.


There’s something about calm people that scare the shit out of me, because it always seems like they know something that I don’t, something dreadfully bad that has to do with me.  There’s little doubt in my mind that Lloyd could reach over the bar and separate your chest plate to extract your heart anytime he wants to  (shiver).


#8  Frank Santorelli as Georgie the Bartender in The Sopranos


Georgie is the mafia’s personal bartender at the Bada Bing and could be the older brother of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.  Though not quite as dimwitted, Georgie is amiable and harmless but the mis-timed comments that come out of his mouth are a trigger for Tony to beat the tar out of him with nearby objects:  phones, ice trays, cash registers, chains, you name it.


Georgie is a pee-on and doesn’t really represent us very well as bartenders, but he is on one of the most popular series of all time, so he makes the list.


#7  Cheech Marin as the Short Bartender in Desperado

The Short Bartender

This is one of my favorite bartender scenes ever and my second favorite role by Cheech since he and Chong did Things are Tough All Over.  Cheech and Steve Buscemi get involved in a conversation that includes an entertaining, if not drawn out joke, from Buscemi as well as his witnessing the Mariachi’s murderous rampage at a previous bar.


Cheech, who at first regards Buscemi’s character with the same respect as a cockroach, suddenly gets very interested.

Bartender:  “So the bartender lived? (laughing) The bartender never gets killed.”

Buscemi:  No, man.  Bartender got it worse than anybody.

No amount of weed could save the short bartender, and he soon suffers the same fate.


#6  Ted Lange as Isaac Washington on The Love Boat


Isaac basically makes the rest of us bartenders look like a bunch of pricks. He smiles enough to make you think that he’s winning an Oscar every second of his life.  If he were a dog, he’d be a labrador, jumping on your lap and licking your face.


You might call him cheesy, but this extremely benevolent bartender from The Love Boat whipped up Pina Coladas and Mai Tais while solving all of the passengers’ problems in a single hour.  Though we know that Isaac isn’t one of the two bartenders on the list getting laid, when you think of great television bartenders, you gotta think of Isaac.


Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity

Kick-ass Assassin

Yeah, shut up, I know he’s not a bartender, but he’s Jason Bourne!  He gets to be on any top 10 list he wants.


#5 Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan in Cocktail

Brian Flanagan

I know, he’s a turd, and though many think that Tom Cruise and rabies are kin, Cocktail did for flare bartending what Rounders did for Texas Hold ’em.


In the movie Brian Flanagan drops out of college to start bartending and with the help of his mentor, Doug Coughlin, Flanagan is spinning bottles like a Vegas veteran after about 7 minutes of training.


The movie is typical 80’s which means it’s awkward to even watch again, but the flipping bottle scene in the movie is totally tubular and lands a place for Cruise in the top 5 of this list.  Plus, he is one of the two bartenders on the list getting down with the ladies.


#4 Woody Harrelson as Huckleberry Tiberius “Woody” Boyd on Cheers

Woody singing “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly”

With the exception of #1 on this list there probably isn’t a more entertaining character on television than Woody Boyd.  There isn’t nearly enough room on this post to even try and express the belly laughs Woody gave me throughout the years.


The naive hick from Hanover, Indiana (voted smartest in his class) never met a conversation that wasn’t over his head.  All jokes, concepts and direct orders are misunderstood on a massive scale, which only contributes to his persona as “most lovable bartender ever”.


Woody once wrote a song for his girlfriend, Kelly, in which her name constitutes 90% of the lyrics.

Best Woody Quote:

Sam:  Is it me or is that woman gorgeous.

Woody:  You look nice, Sam but I’d have to go with the woman.


#3 Ted Danson as Sam Malone on Cheers

The Master

Oh, Sammy!  With a black book containing more names than there are words in the dictionary, you are to be worshipped and revered like the womanizing man-beast you are.

Sam, of course, is the other bartender on this list getting laid.  A LOT!  Sam is funny, athletic, a great bartender, and a ladies man worth his weight in gold (I resemble 3 of these 4 qualities; don’t ask me which one I’m not).


#2 Moe Szyslack on The Simpsons

Moe Szyslack

My wife said to me, “How can you list Moe so high in your rankings? He’s a cartoon.”  Are you kidding me?  How can you NOT?  He wields a shotgun behind the bar and wears an extension cord for a belt.

Moe’s character is so complex I probably need an entire post just about him.  Moe’s gargoyle-like features give all ugly people a glimmer of hope at ever becoming a bartender in this industry.


Despite his bar being in constant threat of going under, Moe always seems to have something in the works, usually shady and illegal, such as running a casino and a speakeasy, keeping African bees in his back room, smuggling pandas, hosting Russian roulette games and serving liquor even though his license expired in 1973 and is only valid in Rhode Island.


The comedy is endless and brilliant, and his incompetence as a bartender and business owner creates enough hilarity to push Moe all the way to #2 on the list.


Best Moe quote:  (At the drive-thru with a date) I’m not cheap baby. I’m embarrassed to be seen with you. There’s a big difference.


#1 Ian McShane as Al Swearengen in Deadwood

Al Swearengen

And the winner is…

That’s right, Al “Fuck, Shit, C-Word” Swearengen of Deadwood.  Nobody can match the brains, wit or brutal verbal and physical bashings that this guy can administer.


Tony Soprano is a titanic pussy compared to Al.  His name says it all, because Swear-engen curses more than Courtney Love who curses more than Al Pacino in Scarface, and that’s a fuckload. The worst part of the show is when Swearengen gets a kidney stone and almost dies.


He can’t speak for three episodes and I thought I might stab myself in the neck if I had to watch one more minute without that gorgeous mouth of his tearing new assholes faster than a stop sign goes up in America.


The show itself is decent, but Swearengen makes it more awesome than Jedi knights with lasers on their heads.  I love you, Al! Congrats on your number one TheRealBarman ranking.  Fuck yeah, motherfuckers!

Best Al Swearengen quote:  God rest the souls of that poor family… and pussy’s half price for the next 15 minutes.

P.S.  I lied, Swearengen also gets laid, but it’s such filthy (literally) sex and since it’s from his own prostitutes, it hardly counts.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:  People who made a dent, but not the A-list

Jim and Mike from the Regal Beagle on Threes Company – Any bar that has Jack Tripper drinking there while juggling sexual misunderstandings with redheads, blondes and his two female roommates, gets both Jim and Mike a mention here.

The girls from Coyote Ugly – Why did the girls from this god-awful film make the list, you ask?  They’re chicks dressed in skirts the size of dinner napkins. Duh!


Nicholas Colasanto as Eanie “Coach” Pantusso on Cheers – An elderly version of Woody.  They were both great, but there’s only room for one dipshit bartender on the list.


Glenn Strange as Sam Noonan in Gunsmoke – He was on a show as a bartender way too long not to get mentioned here.  Plus he carried a rifle behind the bar.


Bryan Brown as Doug Coughlin in Cocktail – Brian Flanagan’s mentor.  I just loved the way he said “Cocktails and Dreams” in his cool British accent.