What is a Bartender?

This is an excerpt from “Extra Dry, with a Twist:  An Insider’s Guide to Bartending” available anywhere books are sold online.

   This is something that seems to be misunderstood by the general public in this day and age.  Anyone who serves drinks from the other side of the bar is generally looked at as a bartender, and has been given this title out of default.  One who is in the know will tell you otherwise and for good reason.  Serving drinks is only one of the many things that are part of this interesting job.  There is so much more to be realized when you are working behind the bar.

   Bartending is one of the oldest and most underrated occupations in the history of mankind.  Many who have had the privilege to be on the other side have had the opportunity to serve and befriend the many masses who have stepped foot in their establishment.  They have become the confidant, the friend, to the many of those who would otherwise have nothing else to do with their free time.  They have been there to listen to the many stories people would share with them, all the while knowing that if the person requests their stories not be shared with the public, it will not be.  A bartender is also a servant of his fellow man, (or woman) – knowing he is no better or worse than the people he is serving.  However, he is there to satisfy your every request and feel a sense of fulfillment when doing so.

   Be it the businessman in his finely finished clothing, to the man who just worked at the construction site, the bartender has become the person they first want to see and converse with after a long day at work.  Want to hear the newest joke or the latest breaking news?  Go in to see your favorite person at the local pub and have some good conversation while winding down with a couple beers – or maybe something with a little more kick.

   How is a bartender able to bring different types of people, living different types of lifestyles, under one roof?  How does a bartender manage to have everyone having fun with one another, when they would probably not have any association with each other in any other type environment?  A “bartender” will have learned through trial and error that most people come to their establishments to be more than just another face at the bar.  In fact, most patrons are there for the camaraderie of their fellow man.  They are there to meet new people and have some type of social status within these four walls.  It is up to the bartender to give his followers the comfort in knowing that they belong.

   A bartender is usually the anchor of any institution serving liquor.  For the most part, he or she will have the say on whether the establishment will be a popular spot or one that barely survives.  The type of clientele that frequent the bar will be the choice of the person who does much more than just serve drinks behind the bar; it will be someone who really cares about the people that he has had the privilege to call his clientele – his customer base.  And yes – the type of clientele in their establishment IS the choice of the bartender if he or she knows how to act with the people that could actually become regulars at his/her place of business.  The person occupying space behind the bar will be the entertainer, the conductor, the listener – the many facets that will make this complicated, yet simple man/woman a bartender.

   When a bartender goes on the other side to be the provider of spirits, they have been thrust on stage.  Not only are they there to be the one who quenches the thirsts of the patrons that sit at the barstools – they are there to put on a show.  This could very simply be a good and heated conversation with a couple of the local politicians.  Or it could be him/her trying the timing out on a new joke he just heard with a couple of the regulars that come in to visit on a frequent basis.  It could also be him/her giving someone advise on what to do while they’re stuck in town due to a boring convention or visiting with the in-laws.  If you like the art of flair bartending, you will find some that will show you some tricks with the bottles; just so they know everyone has been served to their contentment before doing so.

   A bartender is a jack of all trades and a master of none.  He is able to change his personality depending on the type of person he is dealing with at the time – all the while keeping a nice and refreshing smile on thier face.  He/she is educated, though not too much, on all of the topics of conversation; educated enough so they don’t have to taste their size twelve shoe most of the time when talking different subjects with their customers.

   There is much more to it than most people think when entering this occupation.  To be a bartender you will need to master the art of people.  You need to master this above all else to be given the title and stand proud knowing that you have accomplished much more than learning how to make drinks.  Once you begin working on the other side, you will realize that there will be many mountains to climb, many hurdles to overcome to be considered a success.  When you have that figured out and actually begin to dive into the things that will make you one of the elite in your profession, you will come to understand that it will be up to you to be a success.  It will be up to you to be the person that people will come far and wide to see.

   So…what is a bartender?  One day, with the right frame of mind and the commitment to be one of the best, you will be able to look in the mirror and the answer will be right in front of you.

%d bloggers like this: