Shawn Soole
November 7, 2006

So the customers are out, the lights are up & the bar is clean. What happens next? We start our nights by slowing down, unwinding. This usual entails copious amounts of alcohol, sometimes drugs, & of course sex. I choose not to sugar coat this industry, so hold on to your seats because this is going to be a raw look at the after hour antics of a bartender.

I once had a friend tell me working in the industry, you will end up with one of three things; a drug habit, alcoholism or an STD. I have at least a dozen mates with one of these “occupational hazards!”

When you’re young, first starting out, there are temptations at every turn. You have young woman dressed to impress coming to the bar looking for two things. Firstly, for a drink & then for someone to flirt with. As the night progresses, the guys on the floor keep getting drinking while the all knowing bartender seems to be the epitome of sobriety.

The bartender is standing behind the bar still keeping an ever watching eye over the night’s proceedings while the other males in the place are kissing the porcelain. Girls are always attracted to the alpha males in any bar & of course they are going to be attracted to the bartender. It’s how we, as bartenders, handle this responsibility. We have two options, do we take advantage of it or do we nicely smile & blow them off.

I once had a mate from the UK who was working with us; he took advantage of every situation. He slept with something like 150 girls in a year, every girl wanted him & the guys wanted to be like him. There was always one problem with this, the girls would come back. Many a time, Crofty’s conquest would come in the next night looking for a repeat. Problem being, he would already be lining up his next lady. It was always awkward & never ended well, usually in dirty looks & tears.

Hospitality is a sex driven industry, you spend time with some of the hottest girls, this & that side of the bar. It’s the way you handle yourself & the situations that face you every night you “suit up”. Make sure if you take a girl or guy home that you are ready for the repercussions the morning after.

I have had a lot of green horns come to me about the drug scene that happens in their establishments & ask me how to deal with it. Deal with it the same you deal with it as if you were a patron, the decision is up to you. Drugs are rife in nightclubs & bars and, as a result a lot of the bartenders indulge. I will never pass judgement, if you are working 12 hours with the music pumping & the lights flashing & every customer is enjoying themselves why wouldn’t you?

I have worked in venues where bartenders take tips in the form of different pills, powders, horizontal mirrors mounted in the toilets, & water more expensive than a rum & coke. A lot of bartenders use drugs to keep themselves going night after night or to fit in with everyone else. I am not & never will condone drug taking, it’s not the cool thing to do or the way bartenders should survive. We are better than that, let the customers experiment & just serve the salivating masses.

Alcohol is the lesser of three evils. I have more mates with an alcohol problem than I would care to mention. We drink at 6am in the morning after a long night; we drink at 11 am in the morning while having breakfast with friends on our days off. When does alcohol become a problem? When you “need” it; when you wake in the morning & your lips are aching for the taste of golden amber or brown spirit.

My mates & I used to sit around for hours after work, drinking ourselves “happy” When you serve people partying for twelve hours you need to wind down. You have been on your feet, sweating, slowly going deaf & all you want is a cold beer. It’s about knowing when to stop drinking socially & when you’re drinking out of necessity.

There are a lot of occupational hazards in this industry, it’s not always easy to make the right choices & take the right path. Unfortunately the dark side of this profession can sometimes taint the picture of which bartenders & servers really are. We are social misfits at times, we make mistakes, & everyone does. We are always under the magnifying glass for the world to see, it’s sometimes not an easy thing to do. At times we deal with it the best we can.

It’s up to you, the newbies & the lifers to deal with this life we have chosen. Look to the future, look to what’s around the corner.