Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Pressure To Drink Behind The Bar

This post is more aimed at those who work behind the bar.....

Do you ever feel the pressure to drink while at work? Working in a restaurant/nightclub/bar is a very different kind of work environment. Your job is to not only serve good food and/or tasty drinks, but you are responsible for entertaining your guests. With that said, the entertainment is usually focused around alcohol. Go figure.

I know a lot of places out there forbid their staff to drink while on the clock. And with good reason. I have seen many people abuse the drinking privilege (yes, being allowed to drink on the clock is a privilege not a right) in every single bar I have worked at. Some people can't control themselves and let themselves get carried away with the shots. Some people can't control their liquor. Some people just can't control themselves. A lot of people can get carried away with the night and forget why they are there in the first place.

I am a bartender that likes to always be in control of the situation, no matter what type of situation it is. I always want to be of sound and mind when I deal with cash, balancing my drawer, dealing with intoxicated people, breaking up nasty conflicts or having to cut someone off. A bartender always has to be ready for anything-the bad situation, the rush and the clean up. I always like to ready stone cold sober.

Don't get me wrong. I have had my moments. We all have. I remember bragging about back in the day when I went through my whole 6 hour shift on 12 shots of Fernet and finished with balancing my drawer to the penny and was still able to stand up. But that isn't something I am necessarily proud of. I certainly wouldn't do that to my current employer or my body today.

I feel like no matter which bar you work at, there are always pressures placed on you to drink. Even if there is a no-drinking policy put into place. There are pressures from co-workers who slip shots throughout the night to one another. There are pressures from customers who want you to drink with them and try to buy you shots. As an example, I had this really nice customer the other night who seemed to really vibe off of me. He insisted on buying me a glass of champagne (my favorite BTW) even though I told him I couldn't drink it while I worked. So I poured a glass, charged him for it, thanked him and then had to stare at the glass for the rest of my shift. What a waste, but I appreciated the gesture.

If bartenders drank with all the customers who wanted to drink with them, could you imagine what that night would be like? Or how about the next morning for the bartender? Yup, I have been there too. That's how I became an expert at disguising my shots. Coke looks like a lot of dark liquors. A mixture of juices can pass off as an sort of fruity shot. Water looks like vodka. You get the idea.

So my question to you is how do you deal with the pressure to drink while at work? Are you one of those bartenders who caves in easily and says "F It?" and drinks anyways? Are you one of those bartenders who stands your ground and refuses any drink that might come your way? Or are you one of those bartenders who plays along and tricks the customer into thinking you are drinking with them when you really aren't?

Let me know. Post your stories....

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