Sir Nigels (@SirNigels) has written for us a great behind the scenes look at the hectic life of bar-tending. The highs and the lows. Sir Nigels is currently finalizing the touches to his new book, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender” an insight in the mad and sometimes fun life of a regular barman.
The View from Behind the Bar
The view from behind the bar is a peculiar place, with the tools of our trade at our finger tips, the elixirs of goodwill bottled up around us, and onlookers peering in surrounding us.
The view can be one of great joy and happiness. Cheers, good will, and celebration abound! We also see sadness, friction, break ups, tequila shots, and wedding parties. Everything and anything is possible to be seen from behind a bar. Ask any of us to tell a story and we may have too many to tell. Where should I start you say?
My view is one of great memories worth telling not for just the outlandish drunken silliness, the championship winning game, the famous or interesting people I have met, or not even the cheerleader party with midget performers. My view is more than that. I have watched human behavior for twenty years and studied it.
We are a strange bunch of animals I tell ya. I have served drinks to lots of different types of people from all over the world, cultures, religions, colors, creeds, and backgrounds. I may not travel the world, but the world travels to me. I’m known around the world through the people that have come to see me. Watching and learning this strange human behavior has given me a bit of a nuanced view on humans that only a bartender can understand. After eight to ten hours a day, 5 days a week, week after week babysitting humans you start to get an idea about how they work. We don’t come with instructions when were born, it just takes awhile to figure out what makes us tick.
Every person has different life experiences and view points for different reasons. Over the years I have countless discussions about politics, race, guns, war, and peace with all sorts of people from behind the bar. These conversations were not always civil, but we got through them. I learned from them, I hope someone learned something from me.
Over time my view from behind the bar has constructively changed depending on my own life experiences and through the interesting and accomplished individuals that have nursed a glass of Cabernet, sucked down a Mind Eraser, or sipped on a fine single malt scotch.
Working at a bar is not always the exciting life you may see in the movies or at a club. I’ve had some great experiences with more people than I can remember. I’ve met sports stars, rock stars, and famous actors from television and movies. I deal with CEO’s, small business owners, artists, creatives, everyday people, and constantly over-run with egos. To be able to deal with all these wonderful and amazing people who just want, want, want from you constantly with out regard for your physical or mental well being can be trying. After long hours behind a bar my physical and mental anguish can be a bit taxing to my soul.At times people can be uplifting, generous, and thoughtful, but collectively they can tire me until all I would rather do is hide away and hibernate from the real world.
Overwhelming is putting it mildly with my view from behind the bar It can be profitable with remarkable ease, but unfortunately also painfully fruitless with too much toil and brown nosing to say the least. I’ve also found myself able to work alone due to my stamina, expertise, and knowledge of my surroundings and regular guests that stop by for a tasty beverage.
I also work for a corporation with unforgiving mismanaging managers and cheap owners, which exacerbates the everyday problem of servicing the masses with the façade of trying to look perfect and in control at every step As we run out of liquor, napkins, spoons, lemons, or maybe the cooks just aren’t in control, we have to always at least pretend like we are in control when the world around us doesn’t feel like it. Our heads could be in a tailspin, but we have to be smiling and find some categorical solution for every task or problem that arises.
A bit of a chess game so to speak, a smart bartender is always looking several steps ahead of the one he is performing presently. Surprisingly, we succeed most of the time, but at times no matter how hard we try and smile to make you feel secure in your food and beverage choices we fail. Sometimes we fail miserably and still find a way to bull-shit our way out of our life predicament. Sometimes the only way out of our failure is to admit defeat and hope for pity on our pour souls.
Alas, we survive to serve another drink, muddle fruit for a scratch margarita, or shake the crap out of the vodka you call a martini. Many of us do it because we love our jobs, and we do it with pride and self-righteousness despite our aching feet. We love people and feel their gratitude with the job we bring them. The view from behind the bar may not always be a bed of roses, but the memories of joy and happiness will bring a contentment to our souls and warm hearts to our guests.
Take a moment in the new year to thank your bartender for their services and always be generous for they may be raising a family and every bit of gratuitous love is always appreciated over the years. Much love and happiness form the view from behind the bar.
Just a reminder to check out @SirNigels and his twitter account for all bar related and alcohol fueled inquiries, and don’t forget to look out for his Upcoming Publication: “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”. Sure to be a great fun time read.