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Barkeeper vs. Bartender: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
Barkeeper owns or runs a bar; bartender is employed to mix and serve drinks at a bar.

Key Differences

A barkeeper is traditionally the person who owns or manages the bar. A bartender, on the other hand, is the individual who works at the bar, serving drinks to patrons.
Barkeepers are responsible for the business aspect of the bar, which includes managerial tasks. Bartenders focus on the operational side, like preparing and serving alcoholic beverages.
The role of a barkeeper might include hiring bartenders and other staff to ensure the smooth running of the establishment. Bartenders, conversely, are typically employed by the barkeeper to interact with the customers.
A barkeeper may not always be present at the bar but ensures the establishment’s profitability and reputation. Meanwhile, a bartender is usually present during business hours, crafting drinks and tending to guests.
In some contexts, barkeeper and bartender can be used interchangeably, but the former emphasizes ownership or management, while the latter highlights the service and preparation of drinks.

Comparison Chart

Primary Role

Owner or manager of the bar.
Mixes and serves drinks at the bar.


Business operations, management.
Drink preparation, customer service.

Interaction with Guests

May be limited compared to bartenders.
Direct and frequent interaction.


Self-employed or hires others.
Employed by the barkeeper or bar.


Overseeing the bar’s success and management.
Executing drink orders and bartending skills.

Barkeeper and Bartender Definitions


A person who owns or manages a bar.
The barkeeper greeted every patron with a warm smile.


A person who mixes and serves drinks at a bar.
The bartender concocted an excellent Old Fashioned.


The person accountable for the business side of a bar.
The barkeeper meticulously reviewed the day's sales.


A server at a bar who often provides conversation and entertainment.
The bartender entertained the guests with stories as he worked.


Someone who oversees the operations of a bar.
The barkeeper was busy organizing the stockroom.


An employee responsible for serving patrons at a bar.
The bartender had an excellent memory for regulars' favorite drinks.


The proprietor of a tavern.
The barkeeper decided to extend the happy hour due to its popularity.


A person engaging customers and managing drink orders.
The bartender managed to serve the large crowd efficiently.


An individual responsible for the maintenance of a bar.
As a barkeeper, he took pride in his establishment’s reputation.


A professional skilled in making cocktails and beverages.
She became a bartender after mastering mixology.


A person who owns or operates a bar for the sale of alcoholic beverages.


One who mixes and serves alcoholic drinks at a bar. Also called barkeeper.


See bartender.


One who tends a bar or pub; a person preparing and serving drinks at a bar. 19


A barkeeper.


An employee who mixes and serves alcoholic drinks at a bar


Do bartenders have to be certified?

In some regions, bartenders need certification for responsible alcohol service.

Is every bartender also a barkeeper?

No, not all bartenders own or manage the bar.

Does a bartender have to know how to mix a wide range of drinks?

Yes, a good bartender typically knows a variety of drink recipes.

Is experience necessary to be a bartender?

Experience is often preferred, but some start with little to none.

Do bartenders need to be good conversationalists?

It helps, as engaging with customers is a big part of the job.

Can a barkeeper also serve drinks?

Yes, a barkeeper can serve drinks if they choose to.

Is "barkeeper" a formal term?

It can be, especially when referring to the owner or manager.

Is a barkeeper involved in purchasing supplies?

Yes, the barkeeper typically handles inventory and purchasing.

Do bartenders only work at bars?

No, bartenders can work at restaurants, hotels, clubs, and events.

Can barkeepers be part of a franchise?

Yes, barkeepers can operate a franchised bar.

Is it common for bartenders to receive tips?

Yes, bartenders often receive tips for their service.

Do barkeepers typically work on-site?

They may not always be on-site but often oversee operations regularly.

Can a barkeeper hire multiple bartenders?

Yes, depending on the size and needs of the establishment.

Can "barkeeper" imply more experience than "bartender"?

Not necessarily, it implies ownership or management rather than experience.

Can bartenders create their own cocktails?

Yes, many bartenders enjoy crafting their own unique drinks.

Is there a dress code for bartenders?

This varies by establishment, but many have a specific uniform or dress code.

Can bartenders work part-time?

Yes, bartending can be a part-time or full-time job.

Is the role of barkeeper and bartender merging in modern establishments?

In some smaller establishments, one person may perform both roles.

Do barkeepers also deal with licensing and regulations?

Yes, they handle all legal aspects of running the bar.

Do barkeepers set the hours of operation?

Yes, as owners or managers, they set the business hours.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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