Cooks and Bartenders

I was reading one of the cocktail related discussion boards, and someone made the comment, “Line cooking and bartending are two completely different things.”

As someone who has done a lot of one (line and prep cooking) and a little of the other (bartending), I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast my current perspectives on both jobs.

Ways in which the jobs are similar:

  • Both are jobs in the Food Service Industry. You’re going to go home sweaty and smelling like the kitchen or bar you work in at the end of the day.
  • Both jobs will likely require you to work when your friends and family are playing: Nights, Holidays, Weekends.
  • Both jobs require standing for the duration of your shift. Invest in good, durable, comfortable shoes.
  • Both jobs require you to be physically able. You’re going to have to lift a 50 Pound bag of beans, a 20 gallon pot of hot soup, a case of vodka, a keg of beer, or a container of ice at some point.
  • To do both jobs you must perform relatively repetitive tasks accurately, quickly, and efficiently.
  • Both jobs require a fair bit of manual dexterity.
  • Both jobs perform time sensitive tasks in concert with a group of coworkers. Communication with your coworkers is key.
  • Both jobs require astute senses of taste and smell.
  • Both jobs require a heightened awareness of your surroundings. Whether it is simultaneously monitoring all six of the saute pans you have on the stove or the various and sundry patrons lined up in front of you at the bar, there’s a certain amount of “spidey sense” involved in both.
  • Most of the training for both jobs is typically social and on the fly. You can read a book or go to school for either, but most of what it is important to know, you will learn by example from your coworkers and supervisors.
  • Aside from certain celebrity examples, the vast majority of practitioners of either profession are not particularly highly regarded nor rewarded by society at large.

Ways in which cooking is not like bartending.

  • Cooking is a lot harder work. Sorry bartenders, and I know you work hard, but it’s just not the same thing.
  • The extent to which you must perform time sensitive tasks in concert with your coworkers is taken to much more of an extreme in cooking. That’s why Kitchens usually have expediters (aka wheel or pass) and few bars have a similar role.
  • There is a much greater danger of physical injury in cooking.
  • Many kitchen tasks are performed behind closed doors. For better or for worse.

Ways in which bartending is not like cooking.

  • Bartending is a Service profession. That is, you must engage and interact with members of the public for most transactions and are often rewarded in some fashion for the customers’ perceptions of how well you do your job or connect with those same customers.
  • Bartending often pays a bit better than cooking.
  • Bartenders must handle money.
  • Bartender responsibilities and roles are often less specialized than those of cooks.
  • Bartenders serve intoxicating beverages and have a whole host of legal and/or ethical responsibilities related to that fact.

To me, those are the broad strokes. What did I miss?

Hundred Per Cent Cocktail

Hundred Per Cent
1/6 Orange Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Orange Juice)
1/6 Lemon Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
2/3 Swedish Punch. (1 1/2 oz Homemade Arrack Punch)
2 Dashes Grenadine. (1/2 teaspoon Fee’s American Beauty Grenadine)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I was kind of afraid this would be way too sweet. Fortunately, my oranges are pretty tart, so this sort of works out OK. Pretty intense, though. Reminds me of the sort of balance often struck in modern cocktails, where the sweetness and tartness are both pushed out.

Nice Arrack flavor, though, so you won’t be mistaking it for a Cosmo, despite the similar color.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.