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The Highest Paying Jobs in Booze


The liquor industry boasts a number of dream jobs—brewer and winemaker rank in the top 10 among polled workers. And while many of these positions are great when it comes to perks, you can’t exchange free booze for rent (unless you have a very thirsty landlord). Luckily, there are a few high paying jobs in the alcohol biz. Here, the top boozy jobs that will get you top dollar.

Experienced Bartender/Mixologist: $1,000 (in a Single Night)

Bartenders may not net huge salaries over the course of a year, but the occasional big night is hard to beat when it comes to tips. On a good Friday or Saturday night, bartenders can collect $450 to $500 (on top of their regular salary), and on major holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, the good cheer can inspire tips amassing to $1,000—not bad for a few hours’ work. Meanwhile, freelance cocktailians can net up to $500 per recipe designing drinks as consultants.

Gintern: $25,000 (plus Knowledge)

Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. If you’re an enterprising, young spirits enthusiast (i.e. an internship is all you’ll get at your age, anyway), a “ginternship” is for you. British Gin & Tonic delivery service ILoveGin recently offered the position to the winner of a highly competitive application process, allowing one lucky youngster the chance to travel around Europe for six months sipping G&Ts. Aside from the very reasonable salary (considering the fact that it’s a six-month internship), the gintern also receives precious knowledge and even more precious free booze.


Beer Taster: $45,000 (and Savings)

Making it as a quality assurance beer taster at a brewery isn’t as easy as it sounds—you have to be able to identify minute aspects of taste and texture, and determine where flaws in the final foamy product originated in the brewing process. But all that expertise has its perks. You may not make bank tasting beer for a living, but think of all the money you’ll save not buying beer. Plus, with all that beer knowledge you’ll be able to really make your money count, should you decide to attend happy hour anyway.

Distiller: $100,000

The average distillery employee at a bourbon distillery in Kentucky makes a solid six figures. Of course, that number does factor in the head honchos’ salaries, so take it with a grain of barley. Some distilleries do give out bonus incentives, though, such as Jack Daniel’s, which gives its employees a free bottle with every paycheck. That should help pad the old paycheck if it falls below the six-figure average.


Brewmaster / Winemaker: $120,000

While salaries for brewmasters can be as low as $25,000 at small startups, working your way up to the big league producers can seriously up your paygrade: Brewmasters at large breweries like Coors can earn $100,000. In the vino industry, on the other hand, smaller boutique outfits pay better. Managers at high end, niche wineries make the most—especially in Napa Valley, where a head winemaker earns around $120,000.

Liquor Company Executive: Seven Figures

CEOs and CFOs of major spirits brands likely don’t have much contact with their own products day-to-day, but what they give up in hands-on contact, they make up for in cold hard cash—which means they can afford whatever expensive booze they want on their seven-figure salaries.

Celebrity Brand Rep: Also Seven Figures

Celebrity reps bring in immense (usually undisclosed) sums by endorsing major liquor brands. David Beckham’s post-football career work on Haig Club helped buoy his total earnings for 2014 to $75 million (up from his previous record $51 million in 2012 before the partnership), while Diddy similarly makes most of his $60 million annual income by championing Ciroc.

Absolut Nose: $1 Billion

OK, Per Hermansson, also known as the “Billion Dollar Nose,” doesn’t actually earn 10 figures creating spirits like Malibu and Kahlúa. But he does have a pretty sweet gig—or, at least, he did, until he decided to retire after 20 years on the job, leading Absolut to put out the best job offer of all time for a new master sensory designer and strategist.

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