Drinking bartenders

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by DieHippieDie, Aug 28, 2015.

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  1. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Make for much more fun & entertaining bartenders???
  2. Uniobrew31

    Uniobrew31 Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Mind your own business. Not your bar not your problem.
  3. BaseballNBeer

    BaseballNBeer Crusader (466) Apr 22, 2015 Michigan

    Why? I've read this a few times now in this thread. I don't understand what makes a drinking bartender specifically better than a sober bartender.
  4. lambpasty

    lambpasty Initiate (0) May 3, 2013 New Hampshire

    I could see an issue if its impeding the barkeeps ability to make a judgement call, like when to shut a patron off and call them a cab. Having a buzzed bartender let a drunk driver go home on his/her own is begging for a lot of trouble.
  5. beerjaminfrankli

    beerjaminfrankli Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2010 California

    My perspective is that service is service. If you're having a great time and getting great service and the person serving is
    drinking a Long Island Ice Tea or texting or dancing a jig or conducting a physics experiment, I don't understand why the server's activities would bother someone. That said, I fully endorse people taking their business wherever they feel like taking it. If you don't like the jukebox, the height of sink in the bathroom, the color scheme, the shots the bartender has.

    I never would have guessed it's possible to do a good job after a few (or a bunch) but I've seen it.

    I've been in hospitality for about 12 years as a waiter, manager, beer buyer, bar back, bartender and I would say maybe 35%-40% percent of folks who serve us are blasted on various drugs from meth in the kitchen to waitstaff taking bongloads in their cars while waiting tables to bartenders on molly to coked out management . I don't endorse any of these behaviors and it's certainly not my style but I've seen these people do an amazing job dazzling customers working circles around me while I struggled in earnest sobriety.

    The point I'm trying to make is if you don't like the idea of someone serving you, cooking for you, or running the establishment you're in having adjuncts in their bloodstream, there may not be a place out there for you. That great server who knows your order by heart may have popped a couple pills before his shift, your favorite bartender who can always find you that perfect new beer and makes the best Manhattan you've had may be snorting her tips away in between orders, that owner who makes you feel like family and bought all that chocolate for your kid's fundraiser may smoke more marijuana than Cheech and Chong put together. Once again, not my style but this seems to be how the industry works. If you need your tea served to you by teetotalers, you may have to find another tea party. As the cat says "We're all mad here".
    beermeplz, sbh50, utopiajane and 8 others like this.
  6. wesbray

    wesbray Initiate (0) Feb 29, 2012 Canada (AB)

    Breaks down a barrier. I like a relaxed, jovial, environment. Plus, if I see a bartender drinking decent beer, i'll know that i'm in the right place.
  7. imscotty

    imscotty Pundit (772) Mar 23, 2007 Massachusetts

    I once was in a little bar in Scotland. There were only three of us there that night, the bartender, some guy in a Kilt, and myself. First I bought a round, then the guy in the kilt bought a round, then the bartender would buy a round (of Scotch). This went on until we tried a glass of just about everything they had (and there was a wall full of bottles to try). We had lots of laughs that night. I have fond memories of that trip to Scotland.

    Lighten up
    rozzom likes this.
  8. M_C_Hampton

    M_C_Hampton Initiate (0) Oct 9, 2012 Georgia

    Patrick Swayze says "No" in roadhouse.
  9. toastck

    toastck Initiate (0) Sep 26, 2009 Wisconsin

    we are extremely casual. But its normal for me since I grew up in it. So I don't see a problem with it. Unless they are drunk, then yeah. But 99% of those who I see do it, are quite responsible about it.
    jRocco2021 likes this.
  10. OldManMetal

    OldManMetal Initiate (0) Jun 5, 2015 North Carolina

    I do not disagree. :slight_smile:
  11. T-Bird

    T-Bird Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 Ohio

    You had to say 3 Blatz drafts! We had a bar at Ohio State back then that did Tuesday night 3 pitchers of Blatz for 2 bucks. Many a Tuesday night was spent there.
    rgordon likes this.
  12. Nlawrence301

    Nlawrence301 Initiate (0) Sep 26, 2013 Maryland

    In Frederick county Maryland, drinking behind the bar or while your serving is illegal, and most definitely a fireable offense. That being said, bartenders drink all the time, it's the only way to put up with babysitting grown ass folks for a living. I rarely drink when working behind the bar, but I'll be dammed if I haven't ever gone in the back and cracked a beer to sip on, to take the edge off a few times.
  13. NCMonte

    NCMonte Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 North Carolina

    Doesn't happen in North Carolina, anyone serving alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited from drinking while serving.
  14. Franziskaner

    Franziskaner Grand Pooh-Bah (4,796) May 27, 2005 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Was in a popular local craft beer bar for a few hours one Saturday with a friend and the bartender was nursing a beer or two. I got the impression he had started that earlier. He broke 2 glasses while I was there and I remember one being a weissbier glass. He's lucky he didn't get cut. I wasn't digging that.
  15. ChinaskiWMA

    ChinaskiWMA Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    As a customer, I have no problem with a bartender or server imbibing while they work. If the person is moderate about it, otherwise competent at their job, and the drinking serves a purpose, i.e. making staff more sociable, happy, and knowledgeable about the beers / wines / drinks on offer, then I probably prefer it.

    But, for an owner of an establishment it is a terrible idea. Most states have dram-shop liability. Check it out, if you're interested: http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/dram-shop-liability-state-statutes.aspx

    Generally, if a server knowingly provides alcohol to an already intoxicated patron, and that patron proceeds to drive drunk and injure or kill someone, or get in a fight, or goes on a vandalism streak, then the owner can be held liable. Some states even have criminal penalties for this! Now imagine that your bar is being sued in a dram-shop liability case, and the plaintiff calls a member of your staff as a witness:

    Plaintiff's Attorney: Do you drink at work?

    Staff Member: Yes, all the time.

    Plaintiff's Attorney: Does your employer encourage you to drink while working?

    Staff Member: Yes, he says we need to taste all the beers in order to inform the clients about them. He also wants us to be loose and happy with the patrons.

    Plaintiff's Attorney: So in order to get loose and happy, how many drinks do you typically have in a night?

    Staff Member: Usually about a pint every hour.

    Plaintiff's Attorney: Is that what all staff members do?

    Staff Member: Yeah, for the most part.

    Plaintiff's Attorney: How long is your typical shift?

    Staff Member: from 5pm to 1 am, 8 hours.

    So over the course of your shift, you have up to eight beers?

    Staff Member: It's probably a few less than that, but something like that.

    At the end of the case Plaintiff's Attorney argues: How could any staff member reasonably be expected to make an accurate evaluation about whether or not a patron is intoxicated and should be cut off, if they themselves are intoxicated? The judgment of the staff has been impaired and the owner through his negligent policies allowed his staff's judgment to be impaired.

    Most cases would never go to trial and most owners would have insurance. Of course insurance companies are in the business of denying coverage, so you never want to put yourself in the position of relying on it. Taking things outside of liability for a moment, as an owner of a bar or tap house, you should try to discourage people drinking to the point where they harm themselves or someone else. Your staff needs to be sober to make that call.
    jrnyc and OldManMetal like this.
  16. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It may be illegal, but that doesn't mean that it does not occur.
    cavedave likes this.
  17. Dravin

    Dravin Initiate (0) Apr 27, 2014 Indiana

    This highlights why the two questions are very different: Does servers consuming alcohol on the job bug you as a customer? Versus, would you as an owner have a policy of allowing the consumption of alcohol on the job?
  18. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It's always a management issue. I remember well a few owners that drank in their establishments. I grew up in a permissive culture and we have survived. It seems the legal stallions and morally correct have their perspective, but I do think our modern culture is a bit staid and priggish. If I saw a drunk bartender I would tell him to get a sandwich, a cup of coffee and relax for a while.....or go home.
    MostlyNorwegian likes this.
  19. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Ah, some actual perspective on this bin of loonies known as the service industry. If your job is to get your ass handed to you in the name of providing good service. I really don't care what you do to make it manageable. Just stay in control.
  20. barrybeerdog

    barrybeerdog Zealot (745) Aug 17, 2012 South Dakota

    And The Replacements used to get loaded before, during, & after the majority of their concerts....Oh the Humanity!!!
    "Left of the Dial"...
  21. mmmbeerNY

    mmmbeerNY Maven (1,333) Mar 5, 2014 New York

    I've got zero problem with a bartender drinking as long as it is not impacting the quality or speed of their service. So would expect that they are drinking casually not to get drunk. I certainly don't think their ability to pour my beer or fill my growler is going to be less because they are sipping on a beer. Of course up to the bar manager to decide the rules and doesn't change my opinion to go to a bar either way.
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    If you are in a beer bar and the bartender won't have one with you find a new place.

    Friday the bar guys not only were sharing (responsibly) behind the bar, they were coming to the table to share (responsibly) with us.

    And before you say the owner would object, one of the owners was drinking with us and the bartenders too.

    And before you say it will hurt the business, it is a fantastically successful business.
  23. bigflatsbeerman

    bigflatsbeerman Zealot (619) Nov 2, 2005 New York

    This is NOT professional in my opinion and if I see it I'm not at all impressed with the bar I did watch Bar Rescue over the weekend where one bartender did at least 10 shots while they were observing him. John Taffer stopped short I saying bartenders should never drink which surprised me.
  24. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Nice sentiments for sure. I completely forgot to be stodgy when I woke up today. I grew up in a culture that thrived on including people. I don't like intolerant jerks any more than I like a really drunk bartender. My goal is to help people, make them laugh, and to live as long as possible.
    MostlyNorwegian and cavedave like this.
  25. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    That guy is a known genius. He says so all of the time. Remind you of any other "entertainer"?
  26. floridadrift

    floridadrift Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2014 Florida

    I see it a lot but I don't agree with it, unless it's a taste. Sipping beer behind the bar is a no-no. As a business owner, operator and so forth, it's like anything that intoxicates you, intoxicates your surroundings, including customers, money counting and duties seem to go downward, as you do.
  27. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Having been on every side of this issue, I agree with you mostly. But latitude must exist unless one is a bad alcoholic. And unfortunately, that person should not be tending bar to start with.. It depends on the locale. No one can be on-site all of the time and you have to trust people. Knowing how to know people is always the most difficult skill.
    floridadrift likes this.
  28. michman

    michman Initiate (0) Oct 14, 2005 Illinois

    i dont see a problem as long as its not affecting their ability to do their job.
  29. bleakies

    bleakies Maven (1,319) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I think a lot of people here are radically underestimating the number of times they've been served by an intoxicated bartender without having noticed.
  30. cookiequiz

    cookiequiz Initiate (0) Apr 15, 2013 California

    It bugs me that this thread has gone on for five pages and not one person has objected to the title grammar.

    'Drinking bartenders' would be a set of bartenders intended for the purposes of drinking.

    'Bartenders drinking', on the other hand, might be a topic for discussion.
  31. Aye

    Aye Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2011 England

    I've worked behind bars in pubs, beer festivals etc and I nearly always had at least a couple of halves over the course of a shift (staff could run a tab as they were normally regulars at the pubs and stayed after they finished their shift anyway) It's been a few years since I was gainfully employed to serve alcohol, but being a regular pub goer has shown me that little has changed regarding drinking on the job. It was always understood that being drunk or even approaching "merry" was not an option and I've never been more than 'relaxed' whilst working. Nope, I've never drank spirits at work except with the landlord after hours, never had a problem dealing with people due to my alcohol intake or theirs. Maybe there is a difference in culture and between UK pubs and pubs/bars in the U.S or just in people expectations in regards to service. Personally you'll find me in the kind of pubs where things run nicely without recourse to too many rules and there is little difference between one side of the bar and the other.
  32. TheIPAHunter

    TheIPAHunter Grand Pooh-Bah (5,160) Aug 12, 2007 California
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    It's up to the owner of the establishment. It doesn't impact my experience, as I know what I want and I won't pay for anything without a price visibly listed. In moderation, it could add to the overall experience and allow the server to be more knowledgeable about the beers offered. Win-win.
  33. NMFB

    NMFB Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2013 North Carolina

    I see zero issues with this. I always get better service and advice on beers when the bartender is having a couple. In fact if the bartender is trying beers with me that's awesome. .

    I'd say if you're that bothered by it either get over it or go somewhere else brosef.
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