Photo: Kozub Vasyl/Shutterstock

You Know You’ve Been Bartending Too Long When...

by Melissa Allen Oct 18, 2018

In bartending, there are surefire signs that you’ve spent too much time behind the stick. From daydreaming of a 9-5 gig to having a limp shake, here are eight ways you know that you’ve been bartending too long.

1. You’ve seen couples go from the first date to divorce.

If you bartend at the same bar for long enough, you see the evolution of your regulars’ lives. While it’s nice at first to celebrate those milestones with your customers, at a certain point, you start to feel like you haven’t made much progress with your own love life.

2. You can guess a drink order with reasonable accuracy just by looking at someone.

While you shouldn’t make snap judgments about people based on appearance, enough years in the bartending trenches gives you a pretty good sense of what people like. When you’re already reaching for the martini glass before a guest even sits down, you know you’ve got that sixth sense.

3. You’ve lost the ability to fake it.

In the service industry, it’s your job to be nice to people — no matter how you’re feeling or how rude a customer is being. After years spent serving others, the facade of pleasantry starts to crumble. People think they want honesty, but no one wants to be served by the bartender who gets too real. You come to a bar to escape your problems, not to hear about someone else’s.

4. You start to get jealous of the 9-to-5ers.

One of the perks of bartending is the nontraditional schedule. Yes, you have to sacrifice some weekends and holidays to do it, but weekdays and mornings for yourself are a real treat. However, when you get to that place where the idea of a morning commute doesn’t seem that bad, and you start wishing for weekends off, you’ve been bartending for too long.

5. Your bathroom is full of hand creams.

Your hands are often collateral damage from a full week spent bartending. We try to combat the dry skin and ruined nails with cuticle creams, hand lotions, and moisturizing gloves. You know you’ve been bartending for years when your medicine cabinet looks like a ransacked drugstore aisle.

6. You go to a cocktail bar and order a beer.

When you’ve been making drinks professionally for a long time, you learn what you like. Most bartenders enjoy a well-crafted cocktail because they recognize the skill that goes into the drink. But sometimes, you get so tired of being in the cocktail world that you don’t want to even think about fancy drinks. You just want to sip on a beer and call it a day.

7. You stop getting excited about expanding your beverage knowledge.

A key trait of a great bartender is a love and appreciation for wine, beer, and spirits. Meeting with liquor representatives and trying out new ingredients can be hugely motivating. When you stop getting excited about learning about your trade, however, it’s a sign that your heart is no longer in it.

8. You’ve got a limp shake.

A bartender’s technique is often the sign of their craftsmanship. You should shake your drinks with vigor and confidence because part of bartending is putting on a show. When you see a bartender in the corner, looking bored, and putting in the least amount of effort necessary, you better hope they’re sending out job applications.

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