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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