The bartender has a bit of a reputation for being wise, comforting, understanding, and even a little bit powerful. The overseer of the local watering hole, these people tend to have a certain amount of authority, deciding who will be served when, who has had too much to drink, controlling the environment, making peace amongst the patrons, and calling in backup if things get out of hand. Even in cases where the bartender is clearly an employee of someone else, it is still up to them to lead the bar, setting the pace and tone for the space and generally making sure everyone has as good a time as possible.
There are many paths that one can take to become a bartender. Most people start at the bottom, gaining jobs as bus boys, waiters, or bar backs, and working their way up. In these cases, the bartender has an intimate knowledge of the industry, understanding the nature of the business, the establishment, and hospitality services in general. This is the most all inclusive, well rounded knowledge, and it can lead to one very specific type of bartender.
Another path involves schooling. There are a variety of bartending academies that will, over the course of a week or two, train students in the art of mixing and serving drinks. Often these courses have a heavy emphasis on memorizing drink recipes. This can result in a bartender that has more theoretical knowledge of how to actually do the job, than someone who toiled their way up the ranks. In better bartending schools, the academy will offer job placement for the student, helping them to attain employment once they have successfully graduated.
One of the most important pearls of wisdom that is commonplace amongst bartenders is the rule of calm. A bartender is supposed to maintain a cool, sophisticated demeanor, no matter what is happening. If inflammatory arguments break out, its up to the tender to settle them down. If the patrons get a little rowdy, the bartender should be ready to take the reins. In this way, they are the balance, setting the pace and tempo for the entire room.
The archetype of the patron full of problems, wandering into a bar, having a few cocktails, and spilling their woes to the tender, is a common one, and this is a relatively regular occurrence. Alcohol loosens tongues, and makes it easier for people to voice what they are actually feeling. In these cases, the greatest wisdom of the bartender is simply to shut up, and listen. Most people can work through their own problems. Often all they need is a sympathetic ear to take it all in while they verbally dance around the issues they6 are facing.
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