The 10 things I love about Bartending: A piece in response to all of the other pieces recently circulating on the interwebs
A piece recently ran on the Huffington Post yesterday that many of my friends have been posting entitled: Confessions of a Bartender: 10 things bartenders absolutely hate about you. This angered me. ANGERED ME. This girl is making it seem like all bartenders are jaded and entitled individuals who hate all guests who come into our bars. This is not the case and I do not want her preaching to be seen as the collective mentality of those in our line of work.
Therefore, I wrote the following to contrast her post and highlight the reasons why I love my job and being a part of this incredible line of work. I have not posted on here in a while, but if you agree with this sentiment, please share this link. I want the public to know that we do love our customers and some people behind the bar are just not cut out to be bartenders.
1) It’s fun: Bartending is fun. Case and point. Bartending is one of the few careers that gets me excited for work every shift.
2) I don’t have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day: When I worked a desk job, my body felt the strains of the cubicle’s confines. Studies indicate that sitting for that length of time is dangerous for the body and people should often take breaks from their seats to walk around and stretch. Sure, working on my feet for anywhere from 8-12 hours may not be the best for my legs and joints in the long run, but I certainly feel healthier walking around for the entirety of my shift rather than sitting.
3) Meeting people from all walks of life: The bar is one of the few places where any kind of person could be a guest. It doesn’t matter your race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economics, age (as long as over 21), celebrity, or gender, I will treat each person with the same level of respect and service as the guest sitting next to them. Bartending has led me to forge some incredible friendships with individuals who would I have never met otherwise. I think my friend Tommy Reyescould vouch for this.
4) Making people happy: It’s amazing how one cocktail, a few minutes of listening to someone vent, or even a quick compliment could make a guest’s day. I work in the service and hospitality industry - this is my job! There is nothing more satisfactory than serving a person a drink that causes them to grin from ear to ear (whether is be a well made old fashioned, malibu bay breeze or even a coors light). I don’t care what you order, as long as I can serve it to you to help ease the pains of your long day and create an environment and experience that is satisfactory for you.
5) Being a resource for my friends: A wonderful perk of bartending is my extensive network and knowledge of fantastic bartenders and venues around the country. I take great pride in being a mini “Zagat” or “Yelp” for my friends who are looking for a place to drink or eat on a night out on the town.
6) Being an artist: Bartending allows me to exercise my cocktail creation skills. The worst grade I ever received in life was from my middle school art class, and since then I believed that I pretty much had no future in the world of art. However, over the past years bartending has taught me that my eye for aesthetics maybe wasn’t the best for sketchbook assignments but certainly transfers to the creation of new drinks. There is no greater feeling than serving a beautifully crafted cocktail in front of a guest and watching their eyes widen in amazement and excitement. Part of it has to do with the look and style of the drink including the color, glassware and garnish. Every time I dream up a new drink I take these three categories into account to develop a cocktail that will evoke such a response from guests. I only wish Barbara Weiss (my art teacher) could see my and my creations now.
7) Being unconventional: Professional bartending is certainly a very “off the beaten path” profession. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, career bartending was a well established and highly respected job by society. It will take time for bartending to be seen as a job that a well educated college student may want to pursue. Hey, I have 2 BAs and am working on a Masters degree and I see a huge future and much potential for this line of work. I am proud to be a part of the hundreds of bartenders who are leading the way to making this industry well established in today’s workforce.
8) Working for what I get: I work in the service industry. I do not roll up for 40 hours a week and automatically get a paycheck for the same amount deposited into my bank account every Friday. It’s a line of work that has a direct correlation - the more effort I put into my job will result in a greater financial benefit. You don’t like to talk with people, have a bit of energy, deal with long drink orders or have patience for all types of people? Well then honey, bartending is NOT for you. Batenders should not expect or feel entitled to a certain amount of tip from guests. That number should be (and hopefully is) a direct result from their interaction and how well the bartender did their job. I know, I know, sometimes bartenders feel that tips are unjustified such as those times when you make 6 different craft cocktails in under 8 minutes for a group and get a $4 tip for your time. But remember those moments when all you did was pour a beer and some nice individual left you $2. I try my hardest during every shift to make sure that my guests have incredible experiences and even when they sign out their tabs, I never look at the amount that they leave for tip. I know that my actions will result in a justified financial outcome because of the service I provide and the past years have proven my theory correct.
9) The knowledge: We work in a industry that is dripping in historical value that is often under utilized. Bartenders - take a second to pick up a book or two about our line of work and how it shaped policy and influenced the development of societies. I mean, America’s first taxation was on grain whiskey because so much of it was being produced. Drop that little bit of knowledge on some guests as a conversation starter, I guarantee they will be amazed and will remember that fact.
10) I bartend for the phrase, “So, what shifts do you work here and when can we come back to visit you?”: This is the ultimate compliment a bartender can receive. Sure, it’s nice to hear that your drinks are fantastic and the atmosphere rocks, but if you are snooty, arrogant and don’t interact with the guests, they won’t return for another round of drinks. We create experiences for these people and an escape from the real world right outside our bars doors. You could be serving vodka sodas all night long and still be hailed as one of the best bartenders in town because of your actions and steps of service. To me, this embodies the ideals of the best bartender because they are the ones well revered by the public.
**this is not a job for everyone. Not all people are meant to work as bartenders, similar to the fact that I am never supposed to be a doctor, accountant or construction worker. Certain lines of work fit certain personality types and skill sets and the job of a bartender is perfect for those who are outgoing, ambitious, creative, inquisitive and patient. I could go on forever with this list, but these are just a few of the reasons that I truly do love this line of work and become upset with lists that bartenders publish that make us sound like disgruntled and entitled individuals. I’d love to hear some of the reasons as to why you love bartender and feel free to post them below.