Zen and the Art of Bar tending

July 19, 2016 by Mikey Lowe

Every day you turn up to slog the night away serving seemingly ungratefuls their swill.
Patrons may not be there to hear your witty banter. Patrons are not here to have your credentials read (to them that will be as interesting as a conversation on a Tinder date, leaving them feeling just as awkward and ungratified afterwards). They won’t be there to
consider your good looks. They turn up at the violet hour to drink! This is not the time for you to be sensitive that no one listens to your precious diamonds of knowledge. Frankly, shut up and serve. This is the patron’s escapism. Your role is to uphold that fantasy.

Part of our work entails a certain element of subordination. But we are all subordinated. It’s the great drama of the proverbial mountain of shit where those who are above us rain heavily down on our heads. That big shot banker with the Amex and obnoxious aura, his boss probably cradles an unresolved Napoleon complex. But we bartenders and bar owners give them the needs to remove themselves from the menial of their lives. This is their escapism. This is their fantasy. And we are the dream makers. The best bartenders will be those that are a venues foundation. They are functioning attributes of their workplace, the ones who seem out of place away from the bar and as such commit a personal reference to the fantasy.

The best bars to find an escape are the ones that completely divorce themselves from the realities of the outside world. Frankies, Earls, The Hazy Rose, The Wild Rover, the East Sydney Hotel to name a few manage to reveal to us our deeply set desires to be vacationed away from life and for a few minutes reality is given a liberal lobotomy. If your escape is to turn that inner rockstar up to eleven, then you should as a patron be made to feel like a rockstar. If you want to brush shoulders with power and make the Wolf of Wall Street seem sheepish then the bar should impress power unto you. If you’re only there to remind yourself that you are in touch with the common man then feel free to don a blue singlet and cuddle up to a Vaucluse Bitter whilst you sneak smokos. A great bar will merge fantasy into reality but I’m afraid in this climate that fantasy has a 1:30 curfew. We are in servitude it is in our nature. It doesn’t matter if we feel subordinated, shrug it off, make them the best gin and tonic they’ve ever had, and subtly imply to them that you are a mechanic, a specialist, a sage of libation liberation. Remember the bartender is the aristocrat of the working class.


  • You are there to work not to gratify yourself.
  • Don’t personalize things. Then it becomes your problem. Remain stoic.
  • A problem is only a problem if it has a solution; if it has no solution it’s a situation.
  • So don’t manifest unnecessary stress.



POST BY Mikey Lowe
The Barley Cowboy or 'That Guy' @ Wayward Brewing Co., Sydney

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