A Bartenderís Memoir

Updated: 09 Oct 2017 | By:


Having done about one and a half decades of work in the drinks business, the journey has thus far been an interesting one. I started off as a barback washing up the bar every night. I still do it today, but it’s a little different as I’m cleaning up my own bar. This industry has given me the opportunity to travel, bartending in a variety of bars, consulting for drinks brands, conceptualising and managing high volume event bars to becoming a bar owner today. It's a really enriching journey in one’s career.

One of the highlights of this industry is the chance to meet people from all walks of life. From meeting complete strangers to growing potential lifelong friendships, and the more than occasional encounters with a**holes; this industry presents a broad spectrum of experience when it comes to dealing with characters. It’s an exciting part of the job that can also be very taxing. Most bartenders work hard to meet guest demands. Holding multiple conversations on a busy night while preparing cocktails is no simple feat. Your adrenaline hits a high note. This keeps you going; however when the buzz at the bar comes to an end and so does your adrenaline, fatigue eventually sets in at about the same time that you’ll have to clean up the bar.

The demands of this job are rather intense. Career bartenders do not earn their spot making drinks overnight. The glamour of bartending is quite overrated in recent years. Many would’ve spent months or years as barbacks shadowing their mentors or senior bartenders to learn on the job before being crowned a bartender. This has got to be one of the most memorable parts of becoming a bartender as it reminds one of the blood, sweat and tears of earning their place. All this coupled with long working hours and the constant lack of sleep adds to the difficulty of this job. Bartenders are forged by perseverance, patience and diligence rather than just a passion for drinks.

I can only speak for myself that, as a bartender, a time will come when one reflects back on their career from triumph and failure to one’s aspiration and dream as a young bartender. After spending considerable effort and time in this line of work, it can turn fairly routine. Significant change is at times required. Stepping out of a daily working pattern helps to give a fresh perspective on both life and passion. Getting out of the comfort zone and past successes to embrace new challenge will strengthen one’s belief in their own abilities. The time has come to see beyond the ‘glamorous’ aspect of bartending and explore how bartenders can help to better society and provide opportunities for others through the work that we do.