Standing behind the bar must be one heady job — surrounded by the snazziest bottles, embedded in a pulsating environment, privy to the hottest gossip and the deepest, darkest secrets of the half-drunk guy or girl at the counter.
And if it’s in your work profile, even performing some cool stunts or jumping onto the bar top for a Coyote.
But speak with bartenders and you realise there’s much more to the job than mixing liquids and twirling bottles.
In fact they are the people who can make or break a place. A great barman can pull in the crowds night after night into a cramped and dingy spot; a sloppy or surly fellow will down the shutters in no time flat.
The difference between good and bad doesn’t lie just in technical know-how. I’m not saying that’s not important — it’s the foundation of the craft, after all — but anyone can learn how to fix a decent margarita or sour by reading up, checking out online videos, and doing a bit of experimentation at home. Great bartenders are those who’ve upped the stakes. They dare to be creative and don’t shy away from experimenting.
They are also good psychologists, believe it or not. From lending a heart-broken customer a shoulder to cry on and saying a few soothing words to being able to quickly grasp his or her taste or dealing with a drunk ready for a brawl, they have to do it all.
And then there’s the tricky part — remembering a regular customer’s favourite drink and recommending new drinks keeping in mind his/her taste.
So the next time you are at a pub, pay close attention to the person behind the counter: it’s an interesting exercise to say the least.