After years of working behind a bar observing customers, listening to people’s drink orders, and eavesdropping on conversations, we bartenders have developed many skills that make our job even more fun than it already was. Here are seven superpowers every bartender has.
1. Reading minds.
The secret to being a great bartender is not an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and spirits (though that helps), it’s our ability to read other people and adjust our behavior accordingly. It is sensing when a guest needs advice navigating the menu, when a bar regular wants someone to talk to, or when a couple has to be left alone. Eventually, we are able to guess people’s drink order just by looking at them (well, nine times out of 10).
2. Existing just fine with a vitamin D deficiency.
Our bedtime is at sunrise and we wake up at dusk. Depending on our schedule, we could go weeks without seeing the sun. This rhythm would drive many people insane, but late-night bartenders learn to love life in reverse.
We blend into the background, next to all those shiny liquor bottles. When you sit at the bar chatting with a friend, the bartender can generally hear your whole conversation. Most of the time, we aren’t really listening — we’ve got our own problems that need mulling — but, yep, we can hear you. So, if you really like eavesdropping, bartending is a good career for you.
4. Messing with people in the guise of banter.
Some nights, usually weekends when we are slammed, are the nights when difficult customers come out of the woodworks. We are doing the best we can just to stay on top of all the drink orders when that chatty stranger wants to ask us all about your life, or a guest at the bar wants an in-depth rundown of every scotch on the list. Since we can’t be openly rude, we get sassy. Weirdly, we tend to get tipped better when we teasingly banter with our guests.
5. Matchmaking better than a dating app.
We’re not over the top about it, but if we see some singles at the bar, we love to casually introduce them and set up an inviting environment. We’re like your secret wingman. If we see a date going well, maybe we’ll encourage a second round. And if we notice that things are crashing and burning, we will drop that check real fast.
6. Overcoming FOMO.
Because we often spend our weekends and holidays behind the bar, we are used to the sting of scrolling through an Instagram feed of missed birthday parties, barbecues, and beach days. That is why it so important to take advantage of our days off, and to remember that even if we are working on a Saturday night, we are still out with people, hopefully having a good time, and not chained to an office desk.
7. Curating the vibe.
Part of being a great bartender is creating a little community every night at the bar. Sometimes it means sending out party vibes, other nights it’s about maintaining a relaxed energy. Everyone at a bar or restaurant has their role, but the energy of the place really comes from the bartender. When we are in a crap mood, the whole bar can feel it. So it’s important to change up the music or invite fun friends to keep the good vibes going.
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