Bartenders are the ultimate givers of both verbal and liquid empathy, but if you haven't been behind the bar yourself, it can be hard to understand that the job is more than being a professional bottle lifter.
So, to clear up some misconceptions about the wide world of bartending, we chatted with a few anonymous industry pros about the aspects of their jobs that are the least understood. Keep these ideas in mind next time you step up to the bar, and your bartender will be much happier to enable your partying.
1. It looks easier than it is
On average, bartenders probably do 10-12 hour shifts, sometimes with no break. There are hours of prep work, hours of clean-up, and hours of catering to the demands of people who have no concept of a bartender's actual hours.
2. Their lives are not an endless party
The bartender is like the parent at a slumber party: they are working to make sure everybody else is having fun, while trying to keep them from getting in too much trouble. And once the kids go to bed, they're up late cleaning the mess.
3. When you're in an environment that's extremely high volume, everything goes out the window
A skilled bartender always wants to make the best drink possible, but in a busy bar there's a balance between meticulous craftsmanship and breakneck efficiency. This is particularly true of inexperienced bartenders who don't have their recipes memorized. If they're slammed with Negroni, Manhattan, and Old Fashioned orders back-to-back, they're immediately in the weeds and will be much less excited to discuss the intricacies of their tiki menu.
4. Bartending is largely about multi-tasking and quick memory recall
Bartenders do everything at once. A home-cocktail-enthusiast might be able to make a good Manhattan, but it's an entirely different thing to make three at once while taking a beer order, running a credit card, and being eye-pulled by 10 strangers. Most decent bartenders can multi-task like maniacs, good ones can do it while keeping their drinks to a high standard, and only the best can pull it off while maintaining a hospitable smile.
5. People trust bartenders more than their therapists
You're not paying a bartender for their time, you're paying them for a way to waste yours. So advice from a bartender seems to come with the same air of authority as a professional counselor, but without the baggage of a ticking clock.
6. The human interaction is what makes bartenders feel like they're people too
You might run into a gruff bartender who doesn't want to chat, but most are pretty outgoing people. They wouldn't be in this industry if they didn't like talking to strangers. Strangers who tip them well.
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