The history of bartending is probably just a little younger than the history of alcohol. As soon as humans discovered that the fermented juice of fruits, which seemed to make bees and butterflies behave a bit goofy when they sipped it, was good for humans as well, then the bartending profession began.
A guy name Og was probably the first one. The vine outside his cave seemed to have the most crazy-making fruits in the autumn. He learned how to gather the liquid, and exchanged a gourd full for a couple of wild boar chops or some fish. His neighbors hung around to drink and get silly, and to complain about how their wife made eyes at the fellas from the next door tribe, and how she didn’t even keep the cave clean. Og’s became the regular hang out after the hunt. Some of the guys even liked to do a bit of drumming and chanting after a few gourd’s worth of Og’s brew.
Time passes, and civilization grows. Public drinking houses were associated with places where beer was brewed, or where wine was made. Most large houses in Europe had their own brewery or vineyard, but the common people had to get their grog from somewhere.
A humorous look into the history of bartending. It all started a long time ago with Og the first bartender.
CC image courtesy of davitydave
Rather than carry it away to drink at home, people drank their purchase on the spot. It was more fun that way, and more convenient. The bartender would be the brewer or vintner. Eventually it was noticed that sales increased if instead of the brewer, one of his or her attractive young relatives dispensed the pots of ale, a feature designed to keep the customers happy and drinking.
Many bartenders, who were usually also the bar owners, became wealthy citizens. Eventually the bar became not just a drinking spot, but a place for people to come and socialize, talk about the issues of the day, maybe eat a meal, and escape from family cares. Most homes would have been very modest indeed, and the bar offered luxurious amenities such as lighting at night, a place to sit down, and of course food and drink.
There weren’t many bartenders amongst the Pilgrim Fathers as far as we know, but as soon as America began to be seriously settled by Europeans, the bartenders were amongst the first on the boat. They were alongside the workers, farmers , whores and speculators as the great push west began. If Hollywood is to be believed, and in this case it probably is, the western town had a bar with its bartender before it had a doctor, a school or a church.
The real mystique of modern bartending can be traced back to the roaring twenties, the cocktail era, and to Prohibition, when the only place to drink was the speakeasy. The bartender wielded power, had access to forbidden fruits, and the job of bartending had an aura of danger and excitement which perhaps has never quite been left behind. The lure of the forbidden ensured that bars and bartenders would have a permanent place in western cultural life from then on.
In modern times, the role of the bartender has become even more sophisticated and crucial to the running of a top class successful enterprise, such as a hotel or restaurant. With its multifaceted demands, the job of bartender has taken its place in the ranks of professions, and bartending has become a respected occupation which at the highest levels can command an impressive salary. There are even bartending schools that help prospective bartenders learn to bartend. A long way from Og and his fermented fruit juice, but human nature probably hasn’t changed much in the course of all those thousands of years – people still like a strong drink in comfortable surroundings, a bit of music, and a friendly ear into which they can pour their troubles.
Josh Collier is the owner of Rapid Bartender. Rapid Bartender is a site that gives the correct tools through their bartenders guide.
Josh Collier is a outdoorsmen, hunter and fisherman. He is the owner of Beat The End, a survival blog to keep you updated on survival, prepper, and camping issues.