Bartending can be a fun time. It gives you the ability to work in a lively and fun social environment, meet some interesting people, and most of all, leave with some extra cash in hand. Since bartending is primarily night work, it leaves your days free to work another job or finish college. Bartenders are subject to legal requirements that govern the alcohol industry. In Wisconsin, applying and obtaining a bartender license is required. Meeting bartender license requirements for Wisconsin is the first step to become a professional bartender.
Wisconsin Alcohol Statutes
Wisconsin bartender license requirements are outlined by Wisconsin statutes 125.04, 125.17, and 134.66. If you’re planning to complete online or in-person coursework to satisfy requirements, make sure bartending schools are in compliance with regulations set forth in these statutes. Qualified schools will state that they are in compliance with these statutes in promotional materials; coursework must be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
All of the Wisconsin clerks are most aware of our course and consider us the most recommended training provider.
In order to receive a Wisconsin bartenders license, applicants are required to be over age 18, meet criminal record requirements and be certified by an approved school, according to the website Wisconsin Responsible Serving. You do not need to currently hold a bartending job in order to apply for and receive a Wisconsin bartending license. Licenses are only valid within your municipality; if you move, you’ll need to seek additional licensing. Municipalities are defined as the city, town or village where you live; requirements and regulations may vary depending on location.
To qualify for a Wisconsin bartender license, you must...
- Be at least 18 years old
- Meet criminal record requirements
- Complete a certified Wisconsin responsible beverage server course. (Wisconsin.ServingAlcohol.com)
- Obtain a Wisconsin Bartender License (Alcohol Operator License) from the municipality where you work. The city clerk typically issues the Wisconsin Bartender License. The requirements can be different for each municipality. See below for a listing of Wisconsin cities, towns and villages. There are links to websites and in some cases to the applications for a Wisconsin Bartender License for that municipality.
You need to take this Wisconsin responsible beverage server course to get a license, unless you have taken this course in the past two years, or have had a valid Wisconsin Bartender License in the past two years (in any municipality). The municipality may have additional requirements.
You may work under the "immediate supervision" of another licensed bartender (or the licensee) without a Wisconsin responsible beverage server course. The licensed person must immediately supervise each sale.
The last requirement can be waived if it is a renewal application or if you held an alcohol beverage license, including an operator's license, within the past two years. The municipality may issue you a provisional operator's license if you are enrolled in a responsible beverage server course when you apply. An operator's license is only good in the municipality that issues it. For instance, if you are issued an operator's license in the City of Milwaukee, you may not use it in a suburban municipality, like Franklin.
A criminal record may prevent you from getting a Wisconsin bartending license, see the municipality you want to work in below, ask the city clerk about specifics if they are not mentioned in the Bartender's License Instructions below.
- Read more about operator licenses at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's Website
- Social host liability regarding underage drinking in Wisconsin
- Listing of Tobacco Manufacturers and Brands that can be sold legally in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Bartender License through ServingAlcohol.com
Wisconsin's DRAM Shop Law
125.035 Civil liability exemption: furnishing alcohol beverages.
(1) In this section, person has the meaning given in s. 990.01 (26).
(2) A person is immune from civil liability arising out of the act of procuring alcoholic beverages for or selling, dispensing or giving away alcoholic beverages to another person.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply if the persons procuring, selling, dispensing or giving away alcohol beverages causes their consumption by force or by representing that the beverages contain no alcohol.
(4) (a) In this subsection, provider means a person, including a licensee or permittee, who procures alcohol beverages for or sells, dispenses or gives away alcohol beverages to an underage person in violation of s. 125.07 (1) (a).(b) Subsection (2) does not apply if the provider knew or should have known that the underage person was under the legal drinking age and if the alcohol beverages provided to the underage person were a substantial factor in causing injury to a 3rd party. In determining whether a provider knew or should have known that the underage person was under the legal drinking age, all relevant circumstances surrounding the procuring, selling, dispensing or giving away of the alcohol beverages may be considered, including any circumstance under subds. 1. to 4. In addition, sub.(2) does apply if all of the following occur:
1. The underage person falsely represents that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
2. The underage person supports the representation with documentation that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
3. The alcohol beverages are provided in good faith reliance on the underage person’s representation that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
4. The appearance of the underage person is such that an ordinary and prudent person would believe that he or she had attained the legal drinking age.
5. Subsection (2) does not apply to civil forfeiture actions for violation of any provision of this chapter or any local ordinance in conformity with any provision of this chapter.