This is What Life as a Bartender is Really Like, Right?

The Restaurant Industry According to Hollywood #24

Ahhh, a young Tom Cruise…every girl wanted to date him and most guys wanted to be him. The movie Cocktail was an early “I’m a movie-star” device for a rising Cruise. He and his bar sidekick Bryan Brown take NYC by storm, traveling from downtown dive to uptown chic with showmanship and -- dare we say it -- flare. In fact, this movie single handedly changed bartending from a job you did while you waited for what’s next to an aspiration of many talented characters.

In this scene, the boys are ruling the roost at a hot Manhattan bar, presumably because they are THE show. Their demonstration of bartending magnificence is enhanced by their coordinated routine that sees the crowd screaming for more. While ultimately entertaining as choreography, the reality of these types of displays is far different than the movie depictions. Sure, we all want our bartenders to deliver a dose of entertainment but only while simultaneously caring for our pour cost, assessing the intoxication levels of our guests and managing the thousands of dollars in transactions they control. However, there is a point where ‘flare’ gets in the way of good operations.

The real danger is when bartenders become convinced it’s about them and not the service and execution they provide. This movie, more than any since (yes, even Coyote Ugly) did more for the concept of a professional bartender. Since it’s release, the rise of the mixologist is complete and dedicating your life to the dispending of adult beverages is now an honored vocation. Granted there are plenty of hacks behind the stick, but now we know how the real professionals look -- cuz Hollywood told us!