October 18, 2016

The 5 Types Of Bartenders

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Tristan Kenney
Tristan Kenney

1. The College Bartender

The College Bartender is a student between the ages of 17-21 working at a college bar looking to pay off a bit of their tuition or to line their pockets with a few hundred dollars each week. The word ‘mixology’ isn’t even part of their vocabulary. This type of bartender will be pushing out a high volume of Long Island Iced Teas and Vodka Red Bulls and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say he or her has a reputation around school as being a would-be player or the campus slut. Whether this reputation is deserving or not, the College Bartender is sure to have a couple of notches under his or her belt due to the sheer fact that they are always at center stage.

College bars are prime real estate where impressionable kids go to develop major social skills, and flirting is at an all-time high at these establishments. So the attraction to this gig is quite simple really: You mix partying with a bit of drinking (multiply that by quick cash), and you have the perfect storm. As one former College Bartender puts it, working as a bartender can “bring in big tips each night. The job, with its high pay and night hours, makes it a good way to make ends meet while still being able to take college courses during the day” (Scotti, 2013). And you’d be surprised at how many young folks nowadays continue down the bartending path and turn it into a post-schooling career. As the Associated Press reported not too many years ago, “recent graduates are now more likely to work as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined” (Weissman, 2012).

2. The Part-Time Actor or Artist

This type of bartender is known to have one foot in the service industry and one foot in the creative world. Bartending has always been a profession that gives people very flexible schedules, so this leaves plenty of time to attend auditions or open calls for actors, dancers, musicians, and would-be artists. Because bartending is seen as a part-time endeavor, this particular bartender may not want bartending to interfere with their “real career,” so once they clock out at the end of the night, hanging out with the bar staff or with customers may be a no-go. Now this doesn’t apply to every single part-time actor or artist out there. Some of my best bar buddies also work as stand up comics, act on Broadway, or are touring on some famous musical. Yet the fact remains the same. Who a bartender is at work can be night and day compared to who they are in their private lives. I once knew a girl back when I was working as a nightclub bartender in Orlando who without fail, every night after counting her tips, would clock out, grab her purse, and head straight for the door. She never stayed late to grab any bad food with the rest of the crew or chilled to gossip about the crazy events of the night. Nope. She was pursuing a singing career and only got into bartending for the money. She wasn’t there to make any friends and time and time again she made this quite clear. I don’t even think I ever got her first name.

A great piece of advice would be to tread lightly when approaching a bartender who says they are an “aspiring” anything. For all you know they could be leading a double life and the personality they present at work isn’t who they really are at home.

3. The Full-Time and Going Nowhere

This is the type of bartender who likes to complain about how their work schedule is shitty every week and how the management staff is pissing them off, but they have no plans of changing anything. The Full-Time and Going Nowhere is that one bartender who has worked at your favorite bar the longest. He or she is the resident older brother or sister and normally gives out quality sage advice. You wonder why they haven’t moved past just being a bartender and it’s been ten-plus years, but the reason is they are fine with how things currently are. They don’t care for upward mobility and as long as their regulars are there every shift, they take home a respectable pay. As long as there’s not a blizzard or hurricane going on outside, life is good. Most bartenders who were once college bartenders or didn’t quite make it working part-time pursuing an acting career end up as Full-Time and Going Nowhere. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. Just one of those things that slowly creeps up on them before they even know it. As a customer who is approaching this type of bartender you’ll notice that they are some of the greatest humans beings you’ll ever run into, but once you peel back a couple of layers, you may find some regret there, because bartending was not their first choice.

4. The Career Craft Bartender

This is the category I would fall under. I was once a part-time artist (wanting to become a famous writer), when I first entered the service industry many, many moons ago. I started off working as a drink runner in a prime time New York City gastro pub. The basis of my job was running up and down three flights of stairs every shift (lasting anywhere from ten to twelve hours), serving wealthy Manhattanites flavored martinis and even stiff drinks. After months of callused hands and blistered toes I worked my way up to the position of food runner, then I became a barback, and finally I reached the level of full-fledged bartender. Like many lost boys and girls in this industry, I thought I would work on my writing during the day and bartend part-time at night while I waited for fame and fortune to come knocking on my door. When that knock never came, I made the conscious decision to make bartending a serious career choice, refusing to fall into the Full-Time and Going Nowhere.

The Career Craft Bartender is the type of bartender who shows up for work early and is the last one to leave at the end of their shift. They take criticism and direction very well and step into leadership roles just as easily. At the same time, their career trajectory moves very fast. From being just a bartender, they move up to being head bartenders, bar managers, floor managers, general managers, and before you know it, they go on to open up their own bars or restaurants. Even with bartending being a focal point in their lives, they still have the ability to balance both work and family evenly. The Career Craft Bartender has an unbelievably high ambition and is truly going places in life; definitely a great catch in the dating pool.

5. The Mixologist

The Mixologist is a species all its on. The person who becomes this type of bartender undoubtedly takes the craft of bartending, or in this case “mixology” (the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks), very seriously. For a mixologist, presentation and fresh ingredients are everything, and building cohesive relationships with local grocers is second to none. The Mixologist is also known to attend many of the numerous bartending competitions around the world, the big three being World Class by Diageo, the Most Imaginative Bartender by Bombay Sapphire and GQ, and Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail Competition sponsored by Bacardí. As famed master mixologist Brian Van Flandern would put it, “a mixologist is to a bartender as a chef is to a cook” (2015). They are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the bar profession, and nothing can come between them making a quality cocktail for the customer sitting in front of them.

The only negative trait to The Mixologist is the separation of their work life and home life. It doesn’t exist. Since the cocktail community takes up a majority of their free time, maintaining a successful romantic relationship may not be on the top of their priorities list. Their career may overshadow any chance of a deep connection if you do not share the same passion for crafted cocktails or hospitality. The Mixologist is better off dating one of their own (a fellow Mixologist), or any of the other types of bartenders. If you want to carry on interesting conversations about everything involving the history of the craft cocktail movement, then I would suggest you approach The Mixologist. But just know that if you decide on dating this bartender, the chances of you becoming number one in their lives is almost slim to none. TC mark

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