How to be a cocktail waitress

Written by michelle renee
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How to be a cocktail waitress
Make money mingling with nightclub goers as a professional cocktail waitress. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Women who have basic math skills, enjoy a social working atmosphere and love nightlife might find a career as a cocktail waitress ideal. As of 2011, the average annual salary for a cocktail waitress is about £9,100, according to Simply Hired. You don't need any formal education or training to be a cocktail waitress, but knowing a few ins-and-outs of the position can be helpful when breaking into the business.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Research common cocktails and shots. Find out what drinks the establishment serves most frequently and learn their recipes. Do some light research online about some of the current cocktail trends to get an idea of what to expect.

  2. 2

    Dress appropriately for work. At your time of hire, you will likely learn the company dress code. If required to wear a uniform, obtain the apparel prior to your first night of work. More casual drinking establishments may allow you to dress as you please, but make sure that your outfit meets company regulations.

  3. 3

    Familiarise with the venue and company procedures. Before your first shift, study the layout of the establishment to identify where the service bar, waitress stations, credit card terminals and supplies are located. Learn table numbers, and find out which tables are in your assigned work area. Study the cocktail, wine and beer menus to memorise prices.

  4. 4

    Brush up on your math skills or carry a "cheat-sheet." Cocktail waitress often encounter "cash-as-you-go" customers, who prefer to pay cash per round instead of running a tab. In these cases, you must add prices and make change on the spot. If you're not great at adding, subtracting and multiplying numbers in your head, carry a cheat sheet in your pocket that lists applicable price combinations.

  1. 1

    Perform all opening side work upon arriving to work. Opening side work is a small list of chores that must be completed before beginning a shift. This includes lighting candles, straightening bar stools, slicing fruits, filling garnish trays and ice bins. Most nightclubs will provide you with a list of opening procedures and assign specific secondary duties to each cocktail waitress.

  2. 2

    Greet your guests in a friendly welcoming manner. When you approach a table of customers, greet them with a smile and friendly attitude. Introduce yourself by name and let them know that you are at their service for the duration of their stay. After the introduction, place a cocktail napkin before each guest and ask what you may get for them.

  3. 3

    Communicate effectively with bartenders. Your bartender is responsible for preparing drinks and filling all orders that you take from guests. It is very important that you establish clear and concise communication with the bartender in order to maintain efficiency for both of you. Clearly convey your needs to your bartender each time you present a drink order.

  4. 4

    Provide prompt and courteous service to guests. Deliver drinks immediately after ordering to prevent customer impatience, melting ice or flat drinks. Return to the table periodically to offer refills and check how guests are doing. Between drink orders, frequently remove empty bottles and glasses, wipe tables, empty ashtrays and provide fresh napkins. When guests are done, thank them for coming, then promptly calculate and present any open tabs for payment.

  5. 5

    Perform all closing side work. Such duties might include wiping down tables and stools, washing and refilling garnish trays, cleaning ashtrays, washing glassware and assisting bartenders in cleaning procedures. Management typically assigns each cocktail waitress specific closing duties.

  6. 6

    Complete your nightly sales reports, make cash deposit and collect credit card tips. Throughout your shift, you will take several cash payments, make credit card transactions and collect tips. Though it varies by establishment, cocktail waitresses typically must complete some form of a nightly sales report and cash drop at the end of a shift. At that time, you might collect any tips included in credit card receipts and close all tabs paid in cash.

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