Oct 20, 2021
There are more than half a million bartenders working in the
United States, although it’s a pretty safe bet that those numbers
have changed in COVID’s wake. Still, that’s a heck of a lot of
people mixing cocktails, pouring beers, and popping bottles for
guests, all while also acting as therapists, entertainers, and
occasionally bouncers for the mere privilege of serving us.
But where do we form our collective expectations about the role of bartenders? In her latest piece for Good Beer Hunting, freelance writer Gloria Rakowsky describes her early introduction to the sometimes-illustrious position from places like The Love Boat and Cheers. Her piece, titled “Do It With Flair — The Changing Role of the Bartender in Pop Culture,” unpacks how society views the people between us and the drinks we love through a cultural analysis of movies, television, and other influences that have redefined the role over the years.
As a writer who also serves beer at a local brewery in her hometown of Syracuse, New York, Rakowsky’s perspective as both observer and participant gives her a unique insight into what it means to serve. During this podcast conversation, she discusses a range of topics from how to differentiate empowerment from exploitation, the disconnect between who we’re shown as icons of hospitality versus who’s actually behind the bar, and how society has influenced our perception of bartending as either a glamorous end goal or temporary stepping stone.