Close your eyes and envision a bartender. What visuals come to mind? Youth? Beauty? Vitality? Quick Money?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I am almost certain your imagination didn’t lead you to a visualization of a 40-year-old woman married with three kids who crafts cocktails on the weekends in-between dropping her kids off at soccer practice and reading them bedtime stories.
While most people don’t go into hospitality on the serving side expecting to make a career out of it (in this country anyways), there are those that do.
As with any job, (and yes, bartending is a real job) there are those that fall in love with bartending the same way some people fall committedly in love with a person. That love can be carried out over a lifetime and translated into passion, desire and dedication— all of which can lead a person into a lucrative, exciting and entertaining career full of perks like longevity, flexibility and stability.
So can bartending be a lifelong career? Of course it can.
Take France as an example. France is a country that takes hospitality incredibly seriously, as a major part of its economy depends on the service industry and tourism. Hospitality workers such as servers and bartenders are respected and positions outside of working in a club don’t teeter off based on age, in fact the more experience you have the more money you can demand. In contrast, in America, the older you get, the harder it becomes to land a lucrative service job, regardless of experience and knowledge.
Interested in becoming a career bartender?
Here are some suggestions:
Once you master the classics, experiment with the resources around you. Invent new drinks and have fun doing it. You are a creator, an artist, an entertainer. In order to bartend long-term, it’s important to understand how to conquer redundancy and repetition and view everyday as a new opportunity to create new cocktails and meet new people.
Learn about the history of cocktails, liquor, beer and wine. Be able to share your knowledge with customers and co-workers. Become an expert bartender and your skills will be in high demand regardless of age.
Work at a place that fits you:
Are you more of a morning person or a night person? Work at a venue that fits into your life schedule. I’m sure you don’t want to be 60-years-old working until 4 a.m. boozing up 21-year-old frat boys. There are lots of options for you: Brunch bartending, lunch bartending, dinner bartending and late night bartending– choose a schedule that accommodates to you.
Become well known:
If you want to separate yourself from the tens of thousands of other bartenders, make a name for yourself. A good way to do this is by competing in local, national and international bartending competitions. These competitions will allow you to meet other industry professionals, network with field experts and show off your skills and creations.
Open your Own Bar:
Bartending done right can be a lucrative career, one where you can save money quickly and have opportunities to move into other facets of the industry.
If you want to own your own bar or restaurant one day, the time to start saving is now. With expertise and experience in the industry, you will understand the internal operations needed to successfully run a venue and you will be able to put your finger print on everything from the menu to the decor to the overall atmosphere and vibe.
Join a Union:
This is easier said than done, but it is certainly possible. Unions exist all over the world and in America there are union for tons of sectors of employment, including hospitality. By joining a union you will have the power of people behind you, higher hourly pay, benefits, agreeable working conditions and will not be able to be fired without due cause.
Ultimately, if you love bartending and cannot imagine working in a position where creating and crafting cocktails and meeting new people everyday is not part of your job description then you have found your career. Nothing in life is guaranteed except for the now so spend everyday doing what you love.