Remember when movies like Cocktail made bartending look like an art form? Or even television shows like Cheers which highlighted the certain charisma and charm that seemed innate among the elite mixologists? There was no level of pretension buried deep either – just a natural ability to lead and draw people and crowds in. Still to this day, entertainment promotes bartenders as being the hub for all communication. Maybe as a social director or a fortress of wisdom, a bartender was your go-to guy/gal for so much more than just a cold brew or a round of shots. They presented a perspective, an insight, and guidance – the same way a fortune cookie does.
The art form was never really in the scientific formula to creating the perfect mixed drink or how they shook up a martini. It was the power they possessed in helping you. Helping you to see the error of your ways or to find the light.
After a breakup? After you lose your job? Where do you go? Who do you seek out the best advice from (other than your mama-dukes of course)? The Bartender.
But in 2016, most bartenders have become just that – a person who tends bar, serves up drinks, brings you your draft, and looks at you cut throat if you ask for your change. Well, here’s the real tip. Personality, people. Most people are more likely to shell out a bit more when they see the bartender is engaged or invested in them and what their needs are. This may seem extreme, but it’s true. At the end of the day, we are all just squirrels trying to get nuts. I get it. We all need to make a living and we all need to eat. So don’t forget to tip your bartenders on the way out… seriously though.
The thing is, the expectations for bartenders are so high based off the standards of what we have imprinted in our brains for decades. We subconsciously expect and want bartenders to walk on water, or at the very least, save us from our bad life decisions, or get us buzzed enough to make more poor choices!
Give me a drink remedy!
Remember when a bartender would be able to take just one look at you and be able to create the perfect cocktail for you? Be able to whip up a concoction so exact it could cure your bad day? Or even have the knowledge of the most complex artisinal drinks? Me neither… We missed that era because we are Generation Y… As in, why don’t you know the drink remedy that can solve my problems?
The true problem though is that both ends of the spectrum are taking a hit here. People long for a bartender who plays the role, while bartenders long for a clientele that appreciates the craft and lifestyle. The reality is that most young adults at the bar are broke. They order whatever is cheap and will get them drunk the fastest. Perhaps the lost art form of bartending directly correlates with the lost art form of drinking? I do not mean college, fresh 21 year old, binge drinking here. I mean, the status that came along with an authentic lounge experience, or the homely vibe you get from the local pub where everybody knows your name.
People don’t drink the same so why should bartenders act the same. When youngsters are in their right state of mind, they attempt not to spend frivolously and bartenders really don’t do buy backs anymore. Everyone is much more aware of what they have to spare and how their money at the bar is being rationed. So I leave you with this… Where do you think all the bartenders gone?