Person who mixes and serves alcoholic drinks at a bar. – Dictionary.com
This doesn’t even come close.
While Dictionary.com list this as an Americanism, from around 1830-40, Bartender, at least in the UK, tends to be the definition between the casual ‘Bar Staff’ or ‘Barman’, and the more knowledgable ‘Bartender’ who mixes cocktails and entertains guests.
Bar Staff are generally the ones who are either working in a bar for extra cash on the side of another job, or helping to pay their way through education. Of course there are some who think of themselves as Bar Staff who work full time and have done for years. They may well be good at their jobs, but they are unlikely to spend much of their time outside of work thinking about how they can be better at their craft, how they can make their guests happier for example. Bar Staff are content, in general with the status quo.
Bartenders are hungry.
I think this is the key difference between Bartenders and Bar Staff. If you turn up for work do your shift and go home, you’re probably ‘Bar Staff’ If you arrive early, check your station to make sure you can be effective and serve your guests well all night, do your best throughout your shift to go the extra mile and delight your guests, then when you get home make yourself a drink and sit learning new drinks or researching the latest bar trends to stay ahead of the game, you’re a Bartender. Bar Staff don’t spend their free time working on new flair moves, or perfecting the balance of a recipe, or learning the background of that new Gin that arrived this week so they can educate their guests. Bartenders do.
What are you?
So how do you think of yourself? Do you tend to the needs of your guests at the bar or are you a member of the staff, someone who comes in for a paycheck and forgets the bar when they leave? I would guess, if you’ve arrived on this website, you have some pride in your work, and would think of yourself as a Bartender.
Now Mixologist… thats a whole other kettle of fish…