Minimum Age for Bartending: Bartender Age Laws by State


The majority of states in the U.S. permit adults age 18 to 20 to tend bar in on-premises establishments. Below is the minimum age for bartending in each U.S. state.

minimum age for bartendingGenerally the term “bartender” refers to a person who dispenses alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, “server” refers to a waitperson. See the minimum ages for servers at Minimum Age to Serve.

On-premises establishments are those selling alcoholic beverages for consumption where purchased instead of elsewhere. They are typically restaurants and bars.

In some states, adults under 21 may legally tend bar. But only in certain types of on-premises establishments, such as restaurants. In some cases, bartenders must be at least a specified age. But younger employees may stock coolers with alcohol or clear alcoholic beverages from tables.

Some states place conditions on on-premises bartenders under 21 years of age. These include requirements that a manager or supervisor 21 or older be present when the person is tending bar. It might require that a bartender under 21 take special beverage server training.

Minimum Age for Bartending

The minimum age for bartending in on-premises establishments by state.

  • Alabama -21
  • Alaska – 21
  • Arizona – 19
  • Arkansas 18
  • California – 21
  • Colorado – 18
  • Connecticut – 18
  • Delaware – 21
  • District of Columbia (Washington DC) – 21
  • Florida – 18
  • Georgia – 18
  • Hawaii – 18
  • Idaho – 19
  • Illinois – 18
  • Indiana – 21 (18 with restrictions)
  • Iowa – 18
  • Kansas – 21
  • Kentucky – 21 (20 with restrictions)
  • Louisiana – 18 
  • Maine – 18
  • Maryland – 18
  • Massachusetts – 18
  • Michigan – 18
  • Minnesota – 18
  • Mississippi – 18
  • Missouri – 21
  • Montana – 21
  • Nebraska – 19
  • Nevada – 21
  • NH – 18
  • NJ – 18
  • NY – 18
  • NM – 21
  • North Carolina – 21
  • North Dakota – 21
  • Ohio – 21
  • Oklahoma – 21
    Be sure to visit Bartending Jokes at the bottom if this page!
  • Oregon – 21
  • Pennsylvania – 18
  • Rhode Island – 18
  • South Carolina – 21
  • South Dakota – 18
  • Tennessee – 18
  • Texas – 18
  • Utah – 21
  • Vermont – 18
  • Virginia – 21
  • Washington – 21
  • West Virginia – 18
  • Wisconsin – 18
  • Wyoming – 21

Resources on Bartending

These resources are about successful bartending. They provide much information and suggestions. But they do not address the minimum age for bartending

Boothby, W. and Burkhart, D. Cocktail Boothby’s American Bartender. San Francisco: Anchor, 2009.

Burton, J. Bartending Basics. Everything You Need to Know to be a Working Bartender. NY: Mud Puddle, 2011.

Cho, C. A Beginner’s Guide to Become a Bartender. New Delhi: World, 2012.

Feller, R. and Lifshitz, L. The Complete Bartender. NY: Berkley, 2015.

Hoopla (firm). Become a Professional Bartender. eVideo. Hoopla, 2004.

Jones, C. and Schaeffer, L. Brooklyn Bartender. A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits. NY : Black Dog, 2016.

Kangas, R. Making Money as a Bartender in Your Spare Time.
Cambridge, MA: Barnes & Noble, 1992.

Matt, W. The Modern Cocktail. Creative and Cutting Edge Bartender Drinks. Jacqui Small, 2017.

Sennett, B. Complete World Bartender Guide. NY: Bantam, 2009.

Stephenson, T. The Curious Bartender. The Artistry and Alchemy of Creating the Perfect Cocktail. London: Ryland, 2013.

Vancil, D. Who’s Your Bartender? The Secret Techniques and Basics of Bartending. Bloomington, IN: Trafford, 2012.

Zavatto, A. The Complate Idiot’s Guide to Bartending. Indianapolis: Alpha, 2011.

Short Bartending Jokes

  • A chicken walks into a bar. The bartender says “We don’t serve poultry!” The chicken says “That’s OK I just want a drink.”
  • A screwdriver goes into a bar. The bartender says, “Hey, we have a drink named after you!” The screwdriver asks, “You have a drink named Philip??”
  • So a dyslexic walks into a bra . . .
  • A baby seal walks into a bar. “What can I get you?,” asks the bartender. “Anything but a Canadian Club,” replies the seal.
  • A minister, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar.
    “What is this,” asks the bartender, “some kind of joke?”
  • A Frenchman walks into a bar with a cat on his shoulder.The cat is wearing a little baseball cap. “Hey, that’s neat,” says the bartender. “Where did you get that?” “France,” the kitty says, “they’ve got millions of them!”
  • What does a termite say when he walks into a bar? “Is the bar tender here?”
  • An amnesiac walks into a bar. He goes up to a beautiful young woman and says, “So, do I come here often?”
  • A neutron walks into a bar. “How much for a beer?” the neutron asks. “For you?” says the bartender. “No charge.”
  • A snake crawls into a bar and orders a whiskey, but the bartender won’t serve him because he can’t hold his liquor.
  • The past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.
  • Three fonts (Comic Sans, Helvetica, and Times New Roman) walk into a bar. “Get out!” shouts the bartender. “We don’t serve your type here!”
  • A penguin walks into a bar, goes to the counter, and asks the bartender, “Have you seen my brother?” The bartender says, “I don’t know. What does he look like?”
  • A kangaroo walks into a bar. He orders a beer. The bartender says, “That’ll be $10. You know, we don’t get many kangaroos coming in here.” The kangaroo says, “At $10 a beer, it’s not hard to understand.”
  • Two five-dollar bills walk into a bar and the bartender tells them that this is a singles bar.
  • A duck walks in a bar and orders a beer then says “Put it on my bill.”
  • Two peanuts walk into a bar. One was a salted.
  • A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?”
  • A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says “Sorry, but we don’t serve minors.”
  • A dog with his leg wrapped in bandages hobbles into a saloon. He sidles up to the bar and announces, “I’m lookin’ fer the man that shot my paw.”
  • A guy walks into a bar, sits down and hears a small voice say, “You look nice today.” A few minutes later he again hears a small voice, “That’s a nice shirt.” The guy asks the bartender, “Who is that?” The bartender says, “Those are the peanuts. They’re complimentary!”
  • Charles Dickens says “I’ll have a Martini.” The bartender asks “Olive or Twist?”
  • What’s the difference between a dog and a fox? About 5 beers. (After all, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.)
Sources of Bartending Jokes



Note: Do not rely on this or any other website for legal information about the minimum age for bartending. Laws can change. Courts often reinterpret them. A locality may have its own higher minimum age for bartending. This website does not provide any legal advice or opinion. Always consult a qualified lawyer for legal information and assistance. Listing a resource does not imply endorsement.