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The Path of the Bartender: Why are We Bartenders?

October 1, 2010 By: Gary Regan

Are we bartenders because we’re wannabe rock stars? Probably. Are we bartenders cos bartenders usually get more than their fair share of sex? It probably figures in there. Are we bartenders because we want to make tons of cash without going through four years of college. Absolutely. Are we bartenders so that we can be of service to others? I certainly hope so.

I had no idea what to expect when I posted a link on Facebook to an article about trade-marking cocktail recipes, but it sure as hell drew lots of attention, and thankfully the vast majority of people who chimed in on the subject thought that recipes are for sharing, not for trade-marking. It made my little heart glad. But there were dissenters among the people who commented on the subject, and they were pretty unyielding, so I think that it’s time to put cards on the table, and talk about what the job of a bartender is all about.

Bartenders commit to a life of service. Their first objective must be to make their guests’ lives just a little bit better in whatever manner they can find. That said, let’s look at the subject of proprietary cocktail recipes. If you create a recipe, and that recipe is taken by others who take credit for it and profit from it, then it’s up to you to take the matter in hand.  And if you were able to trademark the recipe, it would still be up to you to take the matter in hand.

Are you going to sue the person who stole your recipe? Fine. Sue them. Hire yourself a lawyer, and sue their sorry asses. You don’t have a trademark? Who cares? Sue them anyway. You find a lawyer who will figure out an angle pretty easily whether you have a trademark or not. Someone hired you to work at their bar then, as soon as you trained the staff and installed a cocktail program they fired you? Sue them, too. Don’t come crying to me about it. Sue the bastards.

A huge company changed one ingredient in your drink and used it in a multi-million dollar ad campaign? Lawyer-up and go get ‘em. Take the damned matter in hand. It’s up to you to either do something, or shut your mouth. You can call-out whoever has wronged you on Facebook or on Twitter or in your blog. Tell the world about their thieving ways.

What about taking the thieves to task personally? You can call them, or email them or pop over to their bar and ask them about it. Go see what they have to say for themselves. But don’t go running into the middle of the street yelling, “Poor me. Look what someone did to poor me.” DO something.You don’t have enough money to hire a lawyer? Would you have enough money to hire a lawyer if you had a trademark? If you had a trademark you’d already have shelled out a lot of cash getting the damned thing. Lawyers will think that this is a damned fine idea, you know.

Or you can act like a bartender, and turn the other cheek. Smile, and go about your job of being of service to others.

People who talk about suing people over matters such as these have, in my opinion, either lost sight of what the job of the bartender is really about, or they never knew what it was about in the first place. They entered the realm of the bartender for all the wrong reasons. There have always been people who work behind bars for the wrong reasons. The trademark issue is just a new “wrong reason.”

When people steal our ideas or our concepts or our creations, it’s very upsetting, and it’s very, very personal. And it’s also part of life. And we have to decide how to deal with it. We can get angry, we can kick and scream, we can hire lawyers and sue. Or we can let it be. Letting it be is so much more gratifying, and it takes up so much less energy. Just sit back and let it be.

In this ever-changing world of the professionally bartender it’s time, I believe, to get back to basics. It’s time to re-examine the core of our jobs. It’s time to reflect on the Path of the Bartender.


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