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11 Ways To Make Money At A Bar

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ways to make money at a barSo you like to hang out at the pub, but it’s expensive, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, instead of spending money you can make money at the bar.

That’s right; going to your local tavern can be turned into an income opportunity.

Some of the strategies that follow involve getting a job at a bar, in which case you may have to wait until after your shift to have a drink.

But there are also some more unique ways to make a buck while you down a pint. Some will pay the bills, while others will at least cover your tab.

For example, number four below details how you can hire yourself to serve drinks, but just for a few minutes, in order to make some quick cash to fund the night’s festivities.

Then there are bar bets that you just can’t lose, mystery shopping, and online gigs you can do while you drink.

But let’s start with the opportunity to…

1. Get Paid To Drink Beer

As reported by, World of Beer, a chain of craft beer taverns, pays several interns to travel, drink beer, and report on their experiences.

All travel expenses are covered, and the four-month stint pays $12,000 as well.

Keep your eyes open for other beer-tasting jobs. One recent opening required you to move to Singapore and work four-hour shifts.

To find opportunities like these, Google “paid to drink beer,” then, just below the search bar click “tools” and “past week” to get the most recent postings.

2. Get A Bartending Job

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median wage for bartenders is just $22,550, but that may be low. After all, it is possible that bartenders are not reporting all of their tip income.

If you want to make more than average, there are a number of things you can do. For starters, you can move. One state-by-state list of average bartending salaries shows a difference of more than $6,000 annually between states.

Of course, since tips are often the biggest part of bartending income, the nature of the bar makes a difference too. Look for a job at a busy place with high-priced drinks to maximize your tip revenue

For more ideas, read my article, “20 Ways To Increase Your Tip Income.”

3. Make Sure-Win Bar Bets

If you’ve ever bet someone that they can’t fold a dollar bill in half eight times (7 is the limit for most pieces of paper), you know there are some bets that you just can’t lose. It might be wise to keep the bets small so you don’t make enemies, but a few un-losable bets can still cover your bar tab in any case.

Here’s another one…

While at the bar with a friend (or someone you just met), place a couple beer mugs about five inches apart. Then place a regular piece of writing paper or copy paper over them. When you place a salt shaker between them it will be apparent that the paper can’t hold it up.

Let your friend try, and encourage him to roll the paper up or do anything else he likes with it, as long as he uses only the paper. If he doesn’t make this “paper bridge” hold the salt shaker (the most likely outcome), he’ll be pretty well convinced that it’s impossible.

That’s the point at which you bet him $5 that you can set the salt shaker on the paper between the mugs and it will hold. If he takes the bet you simply fold the paper like an accordion, with a nice crease every half-inch or so, then place this between the mugs and set the shaker on it.

If you need to see this in action, here’s a video demonstrating the trick, along with nine others you can bet on.

Want more? explains a dozen additional bar bets you can’t lose.

4. Serve Drinks Without A Job

True story: A friend of mine was at the bar with her sisters and they ran out of money.

The bar didn’t have anyone waiting tables at the time (customers had to go to the bar to get their drinks), so she decided to start taking orders, getting the money upfront for the first one. She then went to the bar to get their drinks for them.

Soon she had delivered drinks to several customers, and earned enough cash tips to cover the cost of the next round for her and her sisters.

You could try asking the owner or bartender if this is okay. Some bars might appreciate the help if it costs them nothing. On the other hand, if you’re worried they’ll say no, just do it.

In the worst case scenario, they tell you that you to stop, in which case you might try it at another bar.

5. Become A Mystery Shopper

There are many places that hire mystery shoppers to visit businesses and report on the service, and some of the jobs you get can include visits to bars (or restaurants with bars).

Then there is Secret Hopper, which is specifically set up to do mystery shopping and consulting for craft beer businesses. They tell prospective shoppers, “Yes, we really pay for your beer. Once you’re selected we’ll go over all the specifics.”

You have to be 21, but you don’t need experience. You just have to answer a few questions after your visit to a pub, and they add that, “Yes, you get to play detective and work undercover. Dark glasses and mysterious hat are optional.”

With most such companies you’ll be paid only in food and drink, but if you already frequent pubs this is as good as the cash you’ll save.

6. Sell Things In Bars

When my wife and I lived in Canon City, Colorado, we frequented several bars, and in every one of them there were occasional vendors who came in to sell flowers, beef jerky, cheese, and more. There was even a guy who offered to clean shoes or paint nails for tips.

Perhaps bars in small towns are more tolerant of wandering vendors, so you might have some complaints if you try this where you live. But what are they going to do other than ask you to leave? In that case, try the next bar.

Also, if selling inside the bar is not an option, you can sell your goods just outside, perhaps even targeting customers sitting in outdoor patios just off the sidewalk or parking lot.

7. Be An Alcohol Brand Ambassador

As an alcohol brand ambassador you hand out freebies or sell shots or do other things to promote a particular liquor. You can sometimes find these gigs advertised on Craigslist or on (search “alcohol brand marketing” or “brand ambassador”).

You can also find brand ambassador jobs through marketing companies that specialize in the field, like

The work is usually irregular and part-time, although it’s not impossible to work your way into a liquor sales position starting out in this way.

Also, you should know that most places hire more women than men, although there doesn’t appear to be any hard rule about this.

8. Make Money Online While At The Bar

Any strategy for making money online can probably be used while sitting at the bar with your phone or tablet. For example, you might do simple surveys for money while you’re downing a few beers. Here are some survey sites you might try:

If you’re not drinking too heavily you might also test websites for cash. I made about $20 per hour when I did this, although the work was spotty. Here are a few places that might be hiring (you get paid by the job, often just $10 for 15-to-30 minutes of work):

Again, anything you can do online can probably be done from the bar. Writing and other work that requires concentration might be tough, but there are other options.

If you look over my list of “115 Ways To Make Money Without Leaving Home” you’ll find that about a third of them are internet-related things you can do from anywhere.

9. Work As A DJ

According to you can make $500 to $1,000 per night as a DJ, at least if you work in busy clubs. You can read their tutorial to get started.

Yes, some DJs start out working for just tips and drinks, but on the other end there are those lucky few who make millions. Yes, millions. Beat says Calvin Harris, DJ Tiesto, and Deadmaus recently had annual earnings of $46 million, $32 million, and $21 million respectively.

10. Work As A Trivia Host (Or Play)

I used to go to a local trivia night with friends. Prizes included drinks and certificates good for food. The MC was funny and entertaining.

Now, she probably wasn’t paid much for her two-hour gig, but she did get free drinks as well, and she had a tip jar out, so who knows?

You could try organizing something yourself, if you can convince local pub owner to give it a try. But there is also a place that hires trivia hosts for “Quizzo,” which is “The Longest Continually Run Team Trivia Contest in the United States.”

Check their website to see if they’re starting a new contest at a pub near you.

You can also play trivia games at the bar to make some money. If there are no cash prizes, you can at least get free drinks and meals. My friends and I won regularly (yes, we spent more than we won, but it made for cheap entertainment).

11. Sing Or Play In A Band says the average price to hire a band is just $350-to-$480, so you won’t get rich as a cover band playing in local bars.

But if you keep your band small (no more than four members) so the money isn’t split too many ways, well… you might make decent pay per-hour since most gigs are four hours or less.

If you know of more ways to make money while at the bar, please share them with us … and keep on frugaling!

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