Liquid Love

by Francine Cohen

The other night an industry colleague standing outside a bar was overheard saying, "I'm really not sure I want to date a bartender."

Wow!  What a statement; in one fell swoop an entire profession was deemed unsuitable for dating. 

Though broadly generalized, it is nothing new, and while lawyers and doctors rank high on the list of professions one's mother wants you to date (and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson suggest you become), bartenders... not so much.

Make sense?  To some, yes.  And here is why- wallflowers don't generally get into this business; it’s a career for people who like people and like making those people happy.  It’s a job where flirting is almost part of the job description and it can be misconstrued. Or taken advantage of.  Human nature being what it is... you figure it out.

But obviously, as you well know for yourself, not everyone fits the stereotyped reputation for being a rascally and charming lothario or the kind of girl that Rick James was referencing when he warbled about Super Freak and described her as the kind of girl you "don't bring home to mother." 

Georgia Van Tiel met husband Nick when he hired her as a cocktail waitress in a bar in Sydney.  She happily brought him home to mother and father and has never looked back.  She notes, "No.  There were no qualms.  Have you seen what he looks like?  And he didn't have an accent, so that was even better - the New Zealand was definitely missing.  It would have been hard to have a relationship with a non-speaker."

Starting a great relationship is easy as noted by Garrett Peck, author of The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet and Prohibition in Washington, DC:  How Dry We Weren't.  Yet he is also able to point out the bad side of dating someone who is behind the stick.  He remarks, "They are usually engaging personalities and fun people.  The downside is that they are "vampires" (they are working when most people are home and going to bed), so the lifestyles may be incompatible.  Especially with us morning folks."

Happy as Van Tiel is with her choice, she is realistic about one thing that plagues the significant others of folks in the hospitality business- wondering where the heck they are sometimes. Early on in the relationship she recalls, "There were the mornings where I'd be wondering where he was and if he was dead.  I'd go to the gym, lunch w/girlfriends and not hear from him because he'd been sleeping (in my parents front yard, or the time he slept up a tree, and then the time he slept in the median of the freeway).  And I know I'm not alone; that there are many wives/girlfriends who wonder where they [bartenders] are."

Now it is, "Many nights when I wonder where he is, when he'll be home and if he'll be bringing all his staff with him."

In addition to running the risk of having drunken staff descend on you in the middle of the night there's something else to contend with when dating a bartender - that's never having your favorite drink in your favorite bar again. Photographer Gabi Porter shares her logical reasons for not dating the bartenders she enjoys so much as she says, "When I used to work in music I had a strict "no musicians" dating policy.  I think that now I "work" in bars I might have a similar policy regarding bartenders.  Don't date the talent!  I would never want to feel like I couldn't go back to a favorite bar because of a nasty break-up.  And with crazy, fun, creative, flirtatious and drunk people like bartenders it's almost always a nasty break-up."

Okay, so one valid reason for that industry colleague being right about not dating an entire swath of employed people.

But then again, as Tobin Ellis, co-founder of BarMagic of Las Vegas, concludes, "Would I date a bartender?  Again?  Absolutely.  But not first and foremost because she's a bartender.  Because she's a happy, funny, witty, warm, wonderful person.  The gravy is when she can do what I do, only better.  That's effin hot."

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