Allow me to start this rant with a thank you.
A thank you to all of the old guard for what they have done for our industry: From the early days of expanding the popularity of quality spirits and cocktails, for working tirelessly to educate and train up and coming bartenders, and for making the bartending profession a respected one.
With that said, I would like to say to a small but growing section of the old guard – Shut The F**k Up!
Over the past 12 months it seems that more and more of our industry’s well respected and well loved characters have been busy spending their time telling us all how lucky we are and how good we have it. If I wanted to hear that I’d visit my Grandpa – quite frankly I expect better from people that have been there and done it.
You’ve told us all how lucky we are, now let me take this opportunity to put the record straight. Seeing as how most people who have been saying this haven’t pulled a back-to-back double shift weekend behind a bar in the last 10 years, maybe they too will learn something about the life of a modern day bartender.
Yes we do have access to more training and knowledge than you ever had, and yes we are very grateful to be able to learn as much as we can so easily.
However firstly let’s not forget that most of this training is being paid for by the World’s drinks companies, and has given several of you folks a very nicely paid job in the twilight of your bartending careers.
Secondly, with training comes expectation and whilst it is true that a very good level of knowledge is now much easier to come by than in days of yore, it is also true that to stand out from the pack from a knowledge point of view is harder than ever before. How do we do this? By reading, by asking, by experimenting, by doing what you all did back in the day to stand out from your peers.
Yes the consumer is more knowledgeable than ever before. Yes you were instrumental in helping that happen.
You know what though folks, you created a fucking monster. Like a football supporter on the terraces knows how to manage the team better than the manager thanks to the non-stop flow of data coming their way, now our customers think they know more about cocktails than we do.
Just as a football fan doesn’t know more about managing a team than Fabio Capello…. (okay bad example)… Alex Ferguson – Dave and Sandra probably don’t know more about how an Aviation is made than a top bartender (‘not like that it’s got Jager in it, I read it on the internet!’).
Yes we do have more products behind the bar than ever before giving us access to more cocktails and creations.
You know what though? More spirits means more cocktails being created which means a whole lot more recipes to remember – not just the classics of your day, but modern classic and the drinks you lot all invented plus our own concoctions.
It also means a whole lot more crap brands to get onto our lists because the owners have done a deal with certain brand owners. To top it off, all those brands on our back bar need a basic understanding by us lot in front of them, which means more of that much loved knowledge to store in our Playstation-addled brains.
Yes there are more opportunities for us, more competitions with better prizes and general goodies being thrown our way.
Thanks for that – I didn’t say you were all bad!
It has also warmed the tiny cockles (I said cockles stop that giggling on the back row) of my heart to see that more than one of the old guard have stood up for us recently, seemingly noticing the nonsense some of their peers have been knobbing on about. Namely, thank you Gaz Regan with your Bar-Tweenies article for the San Francisco Chronicle and Naren Young in Australian Bartender Mag and www.4bars.com.au.
Both were spot on in their view that whilst we don’t have it necessarily easier than those before us some in our industry do look at their bartending careers as if they were an inspiring pop act on X Factor.
It takes time and dedication to reach the dizzying heights that both of these guys have achieved and there is no such thing as a quick fix. True bartenders completely understand this and as we do not judge all our predecessors by the examples of certain money grabbing dicks, we would appreciate not all being judged by some fly by night young cock jockeys as Gaz and Naren have managed to do.
Finally, no we don’t all wear waistcoats and greet every customer with a bow and a ‘good evening sir and madam I take it your day was pleasant’.
But then again we don’t use lime cordial and get to work on a horse – times change. We will greet our customers as the bar dictates – always politely, always graciously but not always like we have a plum inserted in our rectum.