A barback or runner, as they are commonly known in Europe, is a bartender's assistant. Barbacks work in nightclubs, bars, restaurants and catering halls. They stock the bar with liquor, ice, glassware, beer, garnishes, and so on, and usually receive a portion of the bartender's tips, often around 10% to 20%, or a portion of total sales, from 1.5% to 3%. At high volume bars, this is divided where more than one barback is present.
They are often under the tutelage of bartenders and work their way into the job. They are there to simplify a bartender's job; bussing tables and dishwashing are common duties. In some establishments, barbacks may also be responsible for the safety of the bartender.
While the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, the minimum age to work as a bartender or barback varies from 18 to 21.