Bartending – Brief Tour From Ancient History To Today

Bartending began as a trade thousands of years ago. Historical accounts from the time of Julius Caesar show that inns situated along the major transportation routes served wine and provisions to travelers. In Rome, neighborhood taverns were meeting places for locals to enjoy drinking and gossip. There is evidence that even earlier the ancient Greeks had such places of entertainment and refreshment for travelers. No one knows how far back in time the notion of a tavern was first introduced. Initially, perhaps, someone found it profitable to provide his friends or neighbors something to drink in a room somewhere people could comfortably gather and relax or play.

Today people still gather in a variety of public and private establishments for drinking, meeting friends, relaxation, and entertainment. One of the key roles in such a setting is the bartender, also known as, barkeeper, barmaid, mixologist, tapster. Tending bar involves much more than just serving drinks. In fact, some bartenders leave the “serving” to others. The job may include preparing the drinks, customer service, management, security, and sometimes, psychiatrist!

The United States (US) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives a bartender’s job as follows: ”Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks accurately, quickly, and without waste. Besides mixing and serving drinks, bartenders stock and prepare garnishes for drinks; maintain an adequate supply of ice, glasses, and other bar supplies; and keep the bar area clean for customers. They also may collect payment, operate the cash register, wash glassware and utensils, and serve food to customers seated at the bar. Bartenders usually are responsible for ordering and maintaining an inventory of liquor, mixes, and other bar supplies.”

According to the latest US BLS information available professional bartenders are employed in the following industries:

Full-Service Restaurants ( 184,500)

Drinking Places (alcohol) (145,910)

Civic and Social Organizations (44,600)

Traveler Accommodations (35,460)

Other Amusements and Recreation Industries (29,450).

Interestingly, the same source reveals that over 1{7bd3c7ad8bdfca6261de5ca927cd789e17dbb7ab504f10fcfc6fb045f62ae8d5} of the population in the state of Montana claims this occupation; the state of Nevada is a close second with .96{7bd3c7ad8bdfca6261de5ca927cd789e17dbb7ab504f10fcfc6fb045f62ae8d5} employed as bartenders. The states with the best paid bartenders are Hawaii and Washington.

In additional to the full-time professional bartenders, many people tend bar professionally part-time to earn money while they go to school or as a second income source. The demand for such workers goes up over the summer vacation and holidays.

But most bartenders are amateurs who enjoy mixing and serving drinks to gatherings of friends and family in their own home. Even this more casual activity requires a wide variety of skills in preparing the drinks, knowing the best container for the drink, e.g. stemware or chilled beer steins, supplies such as mixes and garnishes for the drinks, and even some entertainment in the form of jokes or bar tricks. Like his/her professional counterpart, the hobby bartender has the responsibility of serving only to people over the legal age and in making sure the guests enjoy themselves without over indulging.

© 2008 E. Brillig

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