Typically, the food service industry employs managers who oversee both the food and beverage aspects of a particular business. Sometimes, however, a manager’s sole responsibilities focus on beverages, which is often the case in places that are known for the drink selections or aim to offer particularly excellent beverage services. Beverage managers, then, hold the responsibility of maintaining a business’s beverage systems.
Beverage managers are individuals who oversee the entire beverage operation of a single business or location. They plan and organize how beverage systems will be set up (such as storage and display options), direct and supervise employees working with beverages, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the system (drink selections, pricing and customer response). They are also responsible for hiring and training new beverage staff members, and overseeing the ordering and inventory control of beverages.
Some beverage managers work their way into the position solely through experience. Many people start as food servers or bartenders and then move into management positions from there, especially within businesses they work for. Beverage management is a more specific job and would require general management experience. Having a diploma or a degree in a field like hospitality management, however, is a big draw for employers, especially in upscale, well-known establishments such as resorts and hotels.
Beverage managers have the opportunity for employment in a wide range of locations. These include restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, casinos and other places that serve beverages and typically have a large and varied beverage stock. They can range in size, but those places looking to employ beverage managers in addition to food managers are typically larger. Resorts, casinos and large-scale restaurants are common places to find a beverage manager. So are brewery-type restaurants and wine bars.
Beverage managers need to have a strong working knowledge of the type of location they are working in, such as restaurant or hotel This includes understanding the hierarchy of their place of employment as well as how they typically run, so that they can best manage the beverage operations there. They must also have a good knowledge of beverages in general, from bottled sodas or juices to wines and beers. Stemming from this, beverage managers also know and have a rapport with beverage distribution companies, independent breweries and even vineyards.
The median salary for a beverage manager is $46,320 annually as of May 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As with most salaries, this can vary depending on the state or city an individual manager works in and the type of employer. Those with more experience and/or a degree will tend to make more money as well. Those in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $29,450 in 2008, while the highest paid--those in the top 10 percent bracket--earned more than $76,940.