While being a bartender may sound like the perfect job, it definitely has its challenges that are more often than not left unconsidered, making for a truly rude awakening for the unsuspecting suckers that don’t do their research before jumping into a job.
To save a few from learning the hard way, here are a few misconceptions about bartending that tend to get overlooked:
1. It’s not as easy as it looks.
On average, bartenders probably do 10-12hr shifts, sometimes with no break. There are hours of prep work, hours of clean-up, and hours of catering to the demands of people who have no concept of a bartender’s actual hours.
2. Their lives are not an endless party.
The bartender is like the parent at a slumber party: they are working to make sure everybody else is having fun, while trying to keep them from getting in too much trouble. And once the kids go to bed, they’re up late cleaning the mess.
3. When you’re in an environment that’s extremely high volume, everything goes out the window.
A skilled bartender always wants to make the best drink possible, but in a busy bar there’s a balance between meticulous craftsmanship and breakneck efficiency. This is particularly true of inexperienced bartenders who don’t have their recipes memorized. If they’re slammed with Negroni, Manhattan, and Old Fashioned orders back-to-back, they’re immediately in the weeds and will be much less excited to discuss the intricacies of their tiki menu.
4. Bartending is largely about multi-tasking and quick memory recall.
Bartenders do everything at once. A home-cocktail-enthusiast might be able to make a good Manhattan, but it’s an entirely different thing to make three at once while taking a beer order, running a credit card, and being eye-pulled by 10 strangers. Most decent bartenders can multi-task like maniacs, good ones can do it while keeping their drinks to a high standard, and only the best can pull it off while maintaining a hospitable smile.
5. Some bartenders drink during their shift, but not all of them.
Some bars don’t allow it. Some bartenders don’t care about that rule. It’s not uncommon for a bartender to do a few shots during a shift to take the edge off and as hospitality lubrication. But many have a general policy of not drinking with customers, and will go so far as to pour water in their own shot glass instead of vodka to maintain the illusion that they are fun party dudes.
6. Bartenders pay taxes too.
The overwhelming majority of bartenders pay extensive Federal, State, and local taxes. Almost all bar/lounge/club/restaurant owners these days are under extreme scrutiny, and as a result, many owners will report their bartenders’ individual incomes as a percentage of sales – whether you’ve been tipped or not. That goes for every single check. Practically everyone, from the smallest pub to the largest multi-bar hotel chain, makes use of Point of Sale systems to track every single aspect of cash flow. So, yes, you’ll still have to pay up come April 15th.
7. Girls, and guys, don’t actually want to sleep with bartenders.
Ok, well, some do. But the reality is that most aren’t patient enough to wait until 4:30am for their bartender-crush to close up shop, return home, down a pair of cheap beers, and catch up on their /r/cocktails Reddit feed.