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Bartenders Get Laid All The Time, And 12 Other Myths About Bartenders

3744686_B8txbV5PuCO-D6qryYa2gZQOTfcWRyelaPlrfXpzH2EComedian Yuri Kagan has spent the past decade bartending at watering holes around San Francisco. From thumping gay clubs like Badlands and snazzy mixology taverns like Blackbird to dives like Edge. He’s like the Discover card: he’s worked almost everywhere. His last Queerty Post, Ten Things You Should Know From A Castro Bartender, generated considerable debate so we asked him to follow up with this post. Check out his new book, Vodka & Limelight.

There are a lot of myths about bartending, the job, bars and the bartender lifestyle. After years of living off of tips, here are some tips to dispel myths about bartending. This column is intended solely to help people understand bartenders better and therefor have fewer illusions and better experience when out on the town.

1. It’s totally okay to tell the bartender how to bartend

I wouldn’t come to your cubicle tell you how to do your job, mostly because I don’t know how to do it and that would be silly. Even if I did know how to do your job I wouldn’t be so rude. Of course by all means, tell the bartenders how you prefer your cocktail but there is no need to educate them on the craft. If they don’t know your vision of how a cocktail is supposed to be now, they aren’t going to learn it in two seconds from you so save the time and argument.

2. You know the bartender so it’s totally cool to hang way after last call

There is no time that this is ever okay. In some places its illegal. It’s best to leave any establishment before the people working have to ask you to leave. Besides, there is nothing that kills a tender moment like seeing that “hottie” you were about to take home under the florescent lights that go on at 2am. You want to leave while you buzz is still going and he still looks like Zac Efron and not Howard Stern. (Unless Howard is more your type–which seeing what I have seen over the years would not surprise me at all.)

3. We are just hanging out until a better job comes along

This may be true at times but not always. Bartending can be a career choice. It takes skill. It’s not easy mixing great cocktails while keeping patrons at a crowded bar happy. So what if I graduated college years ago and still bartend sometimes full-time and others part-time?

4. It’s your birthday and the bartender must buy you shots

Where were you on my birthday? Even if you are friends with a bartender it’s never okay to assume that they will just give you free drinks. When a bartender purchases a drink for you they are doing it because they are nice or maybe you’re a regular. Giving away lots of free drinks at a bar is called stealing. Demanding for anyone to buy you anything doesn’t make anyone look good.

5. All the bartender has to do is memorize drinks

Actually, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a bartender we have to learn the flow of the other bartenders behind us, the security and safety of those around us, when to kick the drunks out and deal with irate customers. There is nothing that can ruin your day like a random pint glass flying near your head for no legitimate reason. I know first hand. There is also the physical labor happening around the bar that you don’t see–like the scars of a facelift.

6. Bartenders are all jerks and narcissists

While there are some bartenders who live for their own reflection, there are plenty of us who are just normal people, that is if normal is an actual thing. If a bartender is a real jerk chances are they will have no longevity in the field. If they have kept the job for a while and have their regulars then clearly someone likes them.

unnamed-10-360x1887. So your boyfriend bartends here. This means you can just hang at their station all the time

When dating someone that bartends at a club it can be a hard pill to swallow. Seeing attractive people throw themselves at your significant whatever can be trying. I have been on both sides of the coin. Distance sometimes is better. No one likes the overbearing bf that hangs out at the bar more than is comfortable. It’s not cute or endearing. It makes you look like an ass taking tabs on your partner that you clearly do not trust. No one gains trust by stalking someone. It’s worse than looking though their phone or email without permission. Sure come by now and again. Say hi, get a drink and chat when it’s slow. There is no need though to be glued to their station. That is just tacky.

8. Bartenders sleep all day

I wish I could sleep all day and watch Wendy Williams on repeat. I would say that half of the bartenders I know have second jobs, careers and business ventures. Some do drag, others perpetually stay in school and others like myself return to clubs to tell dick jokes and write books.

9. We actually went to bartending school

It’s a piece of paper that tells the world you are qualified to order a drink and not one that says you can tend. Sorry to tell ya this but no bar hires their bartenders because they went to bartending school and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  In my experience, mentioning it on a resume is also a way not to get hired. Just make a list, memorize the cocktails and learn from experience the way the rest of us did it.

10. Bartenders are uneducated

While there may be a portion of dumb, unaware and uneducated bartenders somewhere, I haven’t met them. In my decade of bartending I can count a total of maybe five people I knew without college educations. I bartended in San Francisco though, a place where your hostess most likely has a higher education degree like a master’s in human sexuality.

11. We are all alcoholics

While there are plenty of bar keeps who drink more than they pour, they are not the bulk of us. I for example could drink enough to kill a horse. I don’t though because I am an adult and have learned when to say “no thanks.” That is the sign of an adult, knowing when to cut themselves off.

12. All bartenders are easy and get hit on all of the time

Not all of us are easy, at least not all of the time anyway. While bartending I used to get hit on pretty often. The second I wasn’t behind the bar it was like I had two heads. I couldn’t buy a date. There is nothing like meeting someone while you are working just to catch them after three hours of drinking and you are still stone cold sober after work at 3am.

13. We are all friends behind the bar

While we may all be friendly, often we are each other’s competition to pay rent. Often we do not share tips. Some bars are very cutthroat about this and sharing regulars between bartenders.

The quote from Showgirls comes to mind, “Watch out for the marbles.”

Check out Yuri Kagan’s Vodka & Limelight on Amazon


Photo credit for featured image: Flickr

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  • Cam

    One of these seemed off

    9. Mentioning going to bar-tending school is a way NOT to get hired? That sounds like something somebody who didn’t go would say. So a club is going to look at a resume for a bartender with 10 years great experience and say “Oooops, you went to bar-tending school 5 years ago? Sorry..

  • VampDC

    There’s nothing I hate more than a nasty bartender.

    I’m a true believer in tipping based on personality.

    A friendly bartender who smiles will always get a bigger tip than the bartender who simply takes my order and puts my drink down.

    (I also can’t deny I tip my fellow men better than the female bartenders)

  • tazz602

    Well said – I have had several friends over the years who have been or are bartenders, you hit the mark with every single point. I actually prefer to talk to a friendly bartender (when it’s slow of course) when I travel out of town. You get a good feel for the place doing that.

  • Stache99

    “Seeing attractive people throw themselves at your significant whatever can be trying”

    If he had just said people and didn’t make “attractive” the problem I’d understand. So in other words, it’s more about you and your insecurities.

    “there may be a portion of dumb, unaware and uneducated bartenders”….”I can count a total of maybe five people I knew without college educations”

    He’s basically equating stupidity to those that lack a formal education. Little hint princess. An education paid for by mommy and daddy doesn’t make you better or smarter then everyone else. Clearly it’s turned you into a smug asshole though.

  • Trippy

    Good list, all of his points make sense. As I read through it, I kept thinking to myself that if I were a Top and a bartender, I’d probably be a horndog who got laid every night. LOL. (**now looks down in shame at having thought this**)

  • Gothrykke

    So, you want clicks based upon this horrible person’s attempt at being witty and an author? Next time, ask if we would step on an actual landmine, those inspire great debate too.

  • Chris

    My own personal experiences are that, while these myths are not 100% true, neither are they 100% false. I’ve seen enough bartenders pass their cards along to customers not to think that all of them are volunteering to provide sightseeing services to visitors to this area. And a few gay acquaintances did go to a commercial bar-tending school and, when they came out as gay, were flooded with job offers in some of this region’s gay-friendly bars. ….. The attitude, however, I’ve seen ONLY at those bars where attitude is served as a side to the main heaping dish of steroid-stewed gym-bunny.

  • JAW

    If you sit at a crowded bar… you better be a good tipper… You are basically renting that seat. Sitting and blocking others without drinking and tipping is a great way to make enemies of the bartenders and owners.

    If you have an open tab at shift change, make sure to tip the bartender out before he leaves… odds are the new staff will not share.

  • Saint Law

    So much vinegar being served on this thread!

  • Geoff B

    @Cam: It won’t really disqualify you, but it’s really not worth mentioning if you have any sort of decent experience. You won’t learn anything taking a bartending course that you wouldn’t learn working at any bar with a decent training program. i can teach someone to tend bar simply by training them and teaching through repitition and it won’t cost them 1000 bucks.

  • Cam

    @Geoff B: Oh I understand that, I’m just sayhing that I couldn’t imagine a bar NOT hiring somebody because of it. That just sounded like some B.S. comment.

  • Lvng1Tor

    Wow so it’s a job like any other job…Mind Blown!

  • enfilmigult

    @Stache99: “If he had just said people and didn’t make ‘attractive’ the problem I’d understand. So in other words, it’s more about you and your insecurities.”

    Well of course it is, that’s exactly what he’s saying. Unless it freaks you out to watch your SO having any annoyances at work at all, there’s nothing that bothersome about watching unattractive people you know your SO can’t possibly be interested in hit on them. (Attractive people, on the other hand…)

    Except you say that would make more sense to you, so: what’s “trying” about that?

  • BigGayMe

    YES! So happy you and Queerty took the time to revisit this. Nail-Head- Much applause ;-)

  • BigGayMe

    @Cam: Actually dude, I have worked at many bars in LA and Chicago and have watched owners and managers file resumes with bartender schools right in that file called, “Six Month Resume Hold Legal Department.” I think other places know it as a trash can.

  • sesfm

    Wow, super-bitchy post. You’re giving them too much credit. Bartenders are some of the most incompetent, overpaid service employees I’ve ever come across. It takes 15 minutes to two ingredients in a itty bitty cup, and they freak out if you don’t give them a tip no matter how horrible the service is or how much time they waste chatting with their friends while you stand there waiting to order.

    Especially at gay bars, they fail to be appreciative of the fact that they make a decent amount of money for doing a menial job that they were hired for just because they’re physically attractive.

    I’ll save my sympathy for the fast food employees who work way harder, get paid way less, and definitely don’t get people begging to sleep with them.

  • Ms Urethra Johnson

    Bang the empties on my bar for service/attention…
    You repeating the same jokes to all MY new patrons…
    Coqblocking me…
    I’m NOT your personal shrink…
    Pester/beg me and finally “threaten” me for a last drink after lastcall…
    Never bring in or introduce me to your drugdealer…
    Fingerphoque my condiments…
    If I know you just came back from the bathroom…and forgot to wash your hands…don’t force me to reject your hand-shake offer…
    Don’t grab my arm while I’m shaking a martini…
    Don’t bitch about the prices…
    NEVER bring in your own “snacks”…
    and MY own most horrifying fave…Never FART at my bar or snort a loogy…be a lady…

  • Ms Urethra Johnson

    Bring in 3 different guys in a week… then 2 weeks later cry at my bar that your boyfriend dumped you…

    And for sesfm:
    My list of WORST human beings/biggest social LOSERS:

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