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Eight reasons why being a bartender is way harder than you think

Minutes after this photo was taken this man was sat on a box of pork scratchings, sobbing uncontrollably.
Photo: Shutterstock Minutes after this photo was taken this man was sat on a box of pork scratchings, sobbing uncontrollably.

You probably think that serving up stylish cocktails for a living is one long lazy float down the Nile, with the occasional banging weekend, and free access to all of the best sex you can imagine. And, in some ways you’re probably right. But, in many ways you are also very, very wrong. Being a bartender can suck balls, and here’s a small list of why that is.

They have to deal with drunk people

You might think that you’re really funny and charming when you’re drunk, and in the company of other drunk people, perhaps you are. Perhaps it’s groovy the way you go a bit boss-eyed and up the volume of your voice a couple of decibels. But to the put-upon bartender, run ragged by the barking hounds, you’re a bloody nightmare.

 

Probably should've stopped serving this guy after he did that wee in the plant pot.Photo: Shutterstock

 

They have to work weekends

A bartender’s working life is the reverse mirror image of yours. You live for the weekend, when you can take your bra or underpants off and throw your head back in wild abandon, while the bartender puts their business suit on and goes into work. The bar is their boardroom, you are their client. Nothing about this metaphor is fun.

They have to deal with competitive colleagues flaring next to them

They just want to calmly pour you your drink and get on with earning a crust, but the doofus next to them is throwing limes behind his back and catching them in glasses of ice, and then pouring shots from ridiculous heights while people giggle and applaud. Like a performing monkey, they are forced to follow suit, dying inside as they concoct a woo-woo like they’re auditioning for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.

 

Thanks for the pressure, douchebag. Photo: Shutterstock

 

 

 

 

They have to deal with the smell of booze when they’re hungover

At least when you’re hungover you can sob inconsolably in between taking large bites of a sausage sandwich, but a bartender has to return to the exact scene of the crime, and then work with the very things that did this to them. It’s the human equivalent of rubbing your cat’s nose in vomit so it never vomits again. Or so it vomits more. Never quite figured that one out.

They have to memorise loads of ingredients

If there are ten cocktails on the menu, and each one has at least four different ingredients, all of a sudden you’re looking at insanely complicated combinations, exact sciences, and a bartender under scrutiny to get it right every single time. It’s like sitting an exam, but live in front of an audience that’s in a hurry to get pissed.

'Look, all I'm saying is I do a GREAT vodka and Coke.'Photo: Shutterstock

 

They have to master the art of knowing who’s next

You know you’re next, and you fume if they pass you over for someone more eager, or just more charismatic than you. In many ways this is your problem, you need to work on your ‘presence’ in the world. But a good bartender has one hell of a job keeping track of the conveyor belt of impatient faces trying to catch their eye.

They’re objectified and have to be great looking

On a list of professions where you are expected to be quite hot, bartender is third only to ‘film actress’ and ‘porno model’. Think about it, have you ever seen a truly ugly bartender? Of course you haven’t. They are under unbelievable pressure to be gorgeous.

Well you're certainly not helping.Photo: Shutterstock

 

They have to talk to losers

You’ve seen Merlin on ‘First Dates’, cheerfully shooting the breeze with nervous singletons. What you don’t see are the outtakes when he shouts ‘oh stop moaning!’ or mumbles something about having to change a barrel before going outside to just stand there staring at nothing.

Thirsty? Check out our guide to cocktails in London.

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Comments

2 comments
Daniel S

As a bartender since the late 80s, I've seen it all, worked all over the world, and seen cocktails and fads come and go from flavoured vodkas to Oversized Martinis, Tiki bars to Speakeasies, right up to our present Ginfatutation. You've pretty much got it spot on, the hardest thing for me was being sober when all around are pissed as farts. Its also a balancing act between making money by selling drinks, and trying to stay on the right side of the law by not serving "intoxicated clients"

But this pales into insignificance when it comes to pleasing the licensing officers , especially those at Westminster, a notoriously difficult Council. Its a mix of having music loud enough to creating a vibe without making customers dance (without a dance license ). Keeping your customers inside, but forcing them into the street to smoke, without disturbing neighbours, and the list goes on and on. As a bartender turned Bar Oner (Atlantis and the Lowlife) I was forced out of the trade by the plethora of rules and regulations that made the continuation of my business impossible. 

I'm still in the trade as a consultant, but miss the days of being behind the wood. The perks FAR outweighed the cons, and I wouldn't change it for the world! If you're thinking of working as a bartender, I'd still say go for it, its a great job, if your in your twenties!

Tristan J

Also, they have to spend a fortune on moustache wax and those little silver rings they inexplicably wear around their arms.