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  • Writer's pictureKhalid Williams

Bartenders-The Gift of Duty is a Privilege

I get to bartend. I get to serve beverages to people while seeing their humanity in its most vulnerable place. When humans desire comfort, we are forced to show something of ourselves to the world. The comfort sought at bars is a collection of souls all looking for relief, and they seek it not in just the beverages but the camaraderie, the instant bonds that are formed by humans seeking tranquility and the connection between the faithful host and a grateful guest.

This privilege is also a responsibility. I am entrusted with the health and safety of each person who deigns to sip from the cup I have poured. The collective comfort and inclusion of all guests is my duty. If someone is made to feel uncomfortable, I have the privilege of exercising a just power to eradicate what makes them uncomfortable, be it a poorly adjusted temperature or a maladjusted human who has trouble with the concepts of space and consent.

We aim to run an egalitarian operation. The meritocracy of the bar room is reflective of a silent system that rewards the faithful, welcomes the uninitiated and punishes the louse and the brute. How joyful it has made me to see a burly, rude man forced to either act right or leave the premises, moved on by the steely stare of my sister bartender. Standing no more than 5 feet, she stares down the crass individual until a look of realization and shame comes across his face. “Sorry, it won’t happen again.”

We are the stewards of love. Like Cupid, the arrows we fire are from bottles and the hearts we pierce are the palates of guests who seek thoughtful beverage. More directly, a first date at a bar is one of the best ways to break through the initial layer of masks that potential romantic partners feel they must shield their hearts with. Something real comes to the surface and the individuals have a better understanding of their compatibility after sitting together at a well run bar.

Our pride lies also in the fact that we act as silent protectors. The angel shot is always on the menu-whenever someone feels uncomfortable with the atttention that they’re getting from another, they simply need to order an angel shot from the bartender and we quickly set about the task of separating the parties by way of phantom phone calls. Many times have I earned the temporary anger but lifetime gratitude of a guest whose keys I was forced to take. The harmonious balance of lowered inhibitions mixed with an understated code of conduct give rise to an energy that is irreplaceable. This is not by mistake. It’s by magic, and it’s a magic that we very specifically work tirelessly to create.

A few of the humans that make inspired bartending so beautiful in my state.

These themes have presented themselves time and time again. Be it at a corner neighborhood watering hole or a painstakingly curated and chemistry driven beverage innovation center, the alchemy can exist. It’s up to us to treat our responsibilities like they are privileges, and our duties like they are gifts from beyond.

I get to bartend, and I commit to my guests, my colleagues and myself that I will uphold the duties, every day and in every way.

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