Apart from the evident massive global, scientific and economic impact that it has had (and will continue to have), the lockdown has also been the birthing ground for many weird and wonderful things. Especially bartenders. A group whose entire career focuses on the performative end of the hospitality section. During lockdown, where socialising for a living was anathema to public health, how were bartenders supposed to use their knowledge and skills for the betterment of humankind while still making an honest buck?
From Bartending to Blooper Reels
Throughout three lockdowns, we have discovered obsessions that we never knew we had; tiger kings, clapping out of windows, and the mass looting of toilet paper, to name the most obvious. But on top of all that, there’s been a boom of bartenders hitting the internet. By turning their hand to online broadcasting, many managed to stay creative and relevant.
However, the internet is a big place and can be an intimidating experience for any bartender trying to make their mark. Online, the world of high-quality drinks is dominated by Youtube channels like Greg Titian’s ‘How to Drink’, whose blend of high-quality video and nifty drinks riffs has kept him relevant.
But Greg (of How to Drink) had a long time to refine his craft, with his show being super popular since way back in the before-fore times when the world was less terrible. And for any beginner, seeing channels grow from basically the start of lockdown and find their feet can also be an extremely gratifying journey.
A great embodiment of that sentiment is Cressie Lawlor and Ali Butcher’s ‘The Pump Room’. A home bar set up that takes bartenders on a tour of techniques, recipes and other quirks of the industry, delivered in a non-pretentious way. The show grows more and more like a realised vision with every passing episode. Providing regular content and upping the game with each video they release, The Pump Room exists as an example of using lockdown positively (as opposed to, say, eating chips for every meal).
Not every story fits the same A to B narrative, though, and other people have turned more comic performances to keep that bartending spirit alive. Sany Bacsi, from Dubai, went viral when he started making teeny-tiny baby cocktails for his son, much to the delight of six and a half million people.
As terrible as it has been, the last year has been a wake-up call to many people, impressing upon them the idea that in this crazy new world, you can digitise even something like bartending. But it’s a different skill set. Even the greatest success stories will drop the occasional clangers, as Chester’s liquor co demonstrated in the next reel.
But success in this game isn’t limited to goofing up. Heck, no, it’s about goofing up and then laughing at yourself and trying again. The ever-present and hilarious Skyy John of “Tipsy Bartender” is a fantastic example of goofing about and sticking around.
Regardless, the digital bartending era is upon us and augmented or virtual reality distiller visits are already cropping up. The digital masterclass is here to stay and virtual tastings and events can be part of any bar or bartenders arsenal. What is more obvious than ever, is that video content is the thing that best shows what your bartenders can do, so have a go, and don’t be afraid to get it wrong!