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The History of Bartending

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One of the world’s oldest professions, bartending dates back to ancient times. Through the years, the profession had to deal with its ups and downs, including prohibition in the United States. Now, there are schools all over the country that train these professionals to mix drinks and offer their own brand of therapy.

Ancient Times

Traces of bartending can be found back in ancient Greek, Roman and Asian societies working in what were called "public drinking houses." Most of the bartenders in that time brewed their own drinks and were alehouse owners or innkeepers.

Western Europe

Bartenders were part of the elitist groups in France, England, Germany and Ireland around the 15th century. Bartending was considered to be one of the wealthiest trades at the time.


The bartending profession traveled over to the New World from Western Europe. The Pioneer Inn and Tavern Law was passed by the United States Congress in 1832, allowing inns and saloons to serve alcohol to patriots not leasing a room.


In 1919, mostly under pressure from the temperance movement and its political allies, the United States ratified the 18th Amendment in which the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol was prohibited. This put a temporary halt to the bartending profession.

End of Prohibition

When a majority of states ratified the 21st Amendment to repeal Prohibition in 1933, bartenders were able to go back to work.

  • Professional Bartending: Every Bartender's Guide to the Industry; Adam W. Freeth; 2009

Tiesha Whatley has been writing for over 10 years. She has been published in "Marie Claire," "Ebony" and "Modern Bride" magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has been working in the wedding planning industry for over 13 years.

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