Has Social Media Ruined Bartending?
Social media can be an incredible tool. It can also make you look like an utter prick if you’re using it in the wrong way. There are many pros and cons when we talk about social media in bartending; it’s not just what you post, but how you present yourself and how often you find yourself scrolling. The keyword here is “social”, as the purpose of these platforms is to connect global communities. With this in mind, I question: is social media use in the bartending community antisocial?
“How many of you have ever felt personally victimised by Regina George?”
Social media is a place to show off what you know, what you’re up to and see what others are doing. Cool right? So why do some bartenders stop being hospitable as soon as they get off the bar and behind their keyboards or on their phones? We all know the ones. They see a drink related post, jump straight in the comment section and drop a load of abuse - whether it’s a question from a fellow bartender or a cocktail spec they deem to be inferior to theirs. Would this happen if they were sitting at the bar and asking? I seriously doubt it. So why does this happen?
Picture the scene. Hospitality is a competitive industry. You’re connected to a global community of bartenders so you find yourself comparing yourself to bartenders from all the world. You can't afford a RotoVap to keep up with the ever-evolving bar scene and you think people won’t take you seriously if you don’t have the fanciest gear and use the latest techniques. On top of this, you haven’t got as many followers as Steve from the bar down the road. You know Steve? The guy that makes a shit Daiquiri? So now you feel the need to show everyone that that guy asking about a sugar syrup recipe on LBA is an idiot and you know better. After all, he should have used the search function.
I’ve seen this so many times and it really grinds my gears. The reason they are asking is because they DON’T KNOW and they're TRYING TO LEARN like we all had to and most of us still are. The bartending community has a huge variety of styles, one might say cliques we get competitive and want to prove we’re the best. We seek approval from our clique to help boost the good old ego and make us feel relevant. I get it - you don’t want to be left behind, you want to be invited to tastings and go on cool brand trips. But now you’ve just knocked someone down and they might not get back up, in fact, they might just leave bartending altogether. So if you are one of the above, next time you get the urge to post a shit gif or give them some grief, slide in their DM’s be someone who they can look up to and learn from. Or just keep your hands in your pockets.
“That’s why her hair is so big. It’s full of secrets.”
Everyone calm down! Don’t go deleting all your social media accounts and moving into the woods just yet. Social media can be an incredible tool when used correctly. First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to other bartenders. Like I said there’s a huge range of bartending styles, find one you and your client base enjoy and crack on. This doesn’t mean you can’t try out new techniques, but don’t assume you’re worse than the bartender who has just posted their new switching recipe. We all have different tools at our disposal, so don’t worry if you don’t have the latest gear. Your guests will leave happy if they get a tasty drink and you treat them well, simple. (Switching’s really cool by the way, definitely look it up if you haven’t seen it.)
Use social media to connect with people with similar interests, share ideas, and discover new things - don’t just aimlessly scroll for hours. Use it to your advantage and grow your network and knowledge. Keep up to date with events near you, new releases from brands you like or discover new brands and products altogether. Make friends with people from all over the world and don’t be afraid to drop a comment or slide in the DM’s if you want to know more about something. Chances are they will be more than happy to share, connect and discuss. What have you got to lose? If they don’t reply, maybe they're busy. If they do reply and are a dick - fuck ‘em, there’s plenty of other bartenders who will be happy to help you out.
“Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.”
In short no, social media has not ruined bartending, but sometimes bartenders can ruin social media. We’re a community - Bartenders, Mixologists, Drink Architects or whatever you call yourself - we need to help each other out and support in any way possible. You can learn a lot from other bartenders, brand ambassadors, and general boozy folk, so don’t be afraid to ask. Who knows, you might end up working for that New York bartender one day.
Social media is a small snapshot of the final product. Before that drink gets posted there's been multiple recipes, at least ten different pictures and a bit of editing on top. Everything takes work. Most importantly remember anyone can see your profiles online, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever form of social media you use. Anyone can see it, friends, your grandma and, most importantly, prospective employers - so do yourself a favour and #Dontbeadick