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6 Signs You Learned to Drink Behind the Bar

by Melissa Allen Jun 24, 2019

Besides Mad Men-era Madison Avenue, there are few places where drinking on the job is as encouraged as the service industry. You might start out as a lightweight at your first server gig, but by the time you leave that job, you’ll be a professional drinker. Here are six telltale signs that you learned to drink in hospitality.

1. You can take a shot, no chaser.

Chasers are for amateurs. You can still grimace as the tequila passes your lips (we’re not psychopaths), but those of us who learned to drink in hospitality never need lime and salt. It’s a matter of practicality more than pride. When you’re sneaking shots mid-shift, you need to be as inconspicuous as possible. A wedge of citrus or an extra glass of soda can be a dead giveaway. And after a while, you forget you ever needed to chase a shot.

2. You appreciate corny cocktails like everyone else.

Cosmopolitans, Miami Vices, cocktails that are bright blue — there is a time and place for them all. Bartenders are not really liquor snobs — while knowledge does make you a more discerning consumer, it’s still fun to party.

3. You know how to pace yourself.

Hospitality professionals know drinking is a marathon, not a sprint. It is about maintaining the buzz, not launching into warp speed by lunch, especially at weddings. Use your experience to educate others on the pleasure of the slow burn.

4. You adapt your drink order to your surroundings.

There is a certain type of person who prides themselves on having a signature drink. Whether it’s dry gin martinis, pints of Guinness, or vodka sodas with three lemons, as soon as they walk in the bar, the bartender knows what to pour them. But if you learned to drink in the service industry, you’re most likely not the predictable kind. Beverage and food pairings exist for a reason — they elevate a meal. It’d be a shame to miss out on a bold red wine with a steak or a bottle of beer with some spicy tacos.

5. You don’t blame it on the tequila.

It’s never the booze’s fault. If you don’t drink tequila because of the power hour of Cuervo shots you had during your sophomore year, it’s time to rethink your drinking habits. Maybe you should forgive tequila and try sipping a nice reposado on a summer night. In hospitality, you learn that it is not what you drink, but how you drink it that really affects the body.

6. You take care of your drinking buddies.

If you’re a drinker, you must accept that we all misjudge our tolerance and end up being vulnerable (and sometimes ridiculous) at some point during our drinking career. Restaurant friends never leave a buddy behind. We will put you in a cab; we will text you the next day. We take care of each other because you never know when you’ll be the one who needs to be taken care of.

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