Wanted: Female Bartenders….

And lo, in recent days, the king of cocktail blog traffic, Darcy at Art of Drink made an accidental foray into Rule 4 territory. Rule 4 states that you can pump up your own traffic by making controversial statements that rile up other online personalities. They denounce you publicly. And both of you reap the traffic reward as onlookers flock to both your blogs, tumblrs, feeds, or whatever. Happily Fortunately for Darcy, his Rule 4 trigger also employed Rule 5… Rule 5 is at its core: Everybody is interested in boobs.

In this particular case, Darcy tweeted a comment about how he is looking for a bartending job, and wonders if his search would be more fruitful if he got a boob job. He got some blowback… His tale and defense of his musing is summed up at Art of Drink in the post, Bartending and Your Boobs. You should follow the link and read the whole sordid, fascinating tale. (See what I did there? that’s Rule 2 of blogging success. And I went Rule 2 because Darcy went Rules 4 & 5)

Enough blogging about blogging. Darcy’s little contretemps illustrates an interesting question/controversy/fact of life in the bartending world. Like it or not, good looks are remarkably valuable as a professional asset in the bartending world.

To be clear, I am less worried about being pilloried than Darcy is on this subject because

  1. I’m older and married, thus giving less of a damn about what other women think
  2. I have already written on this subject (humorously) and have established my cred as a believer in the value of skill over looks
  3. No one takes me all that seriously. (This is invaluable if you wish to say what you believe in this PC world)

That said, I do wish to make several beliefs perfectly clear at the outset, so any fights I get into will be on the merits, instead of misunderstanding.

This does not just apply to women. Hot is hot, female or male. Everybody objectifies hot people, and everybody avoids ugly people, in circumstances where we don’t know each other. Darcy focused (hey, he’s a guy) on bartenders who went out and purchased their “charismas” from Dr. Feelgood, but the issue remains just as germane when discussing naturally attractive folks as well.

If you are a bartender, the better looking you are, the more drinks you will sell, and the bigger tips you will get, all other things being equal.


Looks will not help you if you suck. The customer will quickly lose interest in gazing into your dreamy eyes or magnificent cleavage if you take forever, get their order wrong, or your Margarita tastes like ass. Or if you shake their goddamn Manhattan….

Being a great bartender, or at least a competent one, is a skill. Most anyone has what it takes, should they care to work at it, to become a decent bartender who will care for customers adequately and be a value to their employer. Smokin’ hot looks are not a skill. If you have them, bully for you. If you don’t, you are not going to get them. (Dr. Feelgood disputes this, and for $10,000 he will endeavor to prove it to you)

As the internet meme goes, this post is useless without pictures, so I shall indulge my juvenile side with a few pictures so that you may have some illustrations of what hot bartenders might look like, you know, in case you are having a hard time with the concept….

If you want to be a successful bartender as a career, your looks will never be the deciding factor. They may make you successful more quickly, and they might raise your ceiling of success, but you can be Bo Derek and you will never be a successful bartender if you go around serving single malt scotch shaken with ice in a cocktail glass.

Kids, Bo Derek was this amazing looking actress back in the Pleistocene… never mind.

Now that I’ve established a set of opinions upon which I doubt I will be contradicted, let’s get controversial. Darcy, shortly after making the most convincing argument yet in our on-going back and forth about whether Canada is better than the US or (obviously) not, writes this key paragraph:

The choice is always up to women as to how they live their life. For example, this is a job ad for bartenders I saw a few months ago: “wanted: female bartenders, send picture and phone #”. That was literally the complete ad. I thought about dressing up in drag and sending my picture in, but I opted out. The thing is that an ad like this probably did result in a number of responses, and if a person responds to this type of ad they realize that the talent portion of the contest is secondary.

This is exactly right… here in the US, Canada, and a few other, lucky places on Earth. This is not the natural order of things now, or ever in the past. And if we want to preserve this historically anomalous state of affairs, we need to recognize our achievements on this front, and quit acting as if there is some moral equivalence between Western puerility, and the subjugation, open human trafficking, and even gendercide of women in most of the world. I have two young daughters, so this really matters to me.

But I have Sitemeter, and I thus know most of you who read this are fortunate enough to live with me in one of the good neighborhoods on Earth, so lets focus on how to live in our world. Darcy is over-reductive, I think, when he focuses on the ad I reproduced atop this post. Here is another such, longer and more detailed ad that makes the same point. Yes, in the Hooters-esque sub-sector of the hospitality biz, women do need to sort of “tramp themselves out”, but I feel the women who work in these places deserve more respect than they get. To succeed, they still have to have skills, and they have to work hard. A box of hammers with the best boob job on Earth will still fail in short order. (Or, alas, moved to the hostess stand)

But tramping oneself out differs in the professional context. It’s easy to see in the gay bar, where John Goodbody wears tight jeans and a shirt that shows off his chiseled, tanned biceps and pecs, or even at TGI Houligan Tuesday’s, where Jane Juice never sees the need for a bra and apparently has some disability that prevents her from working the buttons on her blouse more than one above her navel. Like these fine professionals:

But having great looks, and using them, will be just as effective, and just as calculated, for a seasoned pro working at a class outfit like a Violet Hour or a Pegu Club. I chose those two because during my last visit to each, neither had any really outstanding lookers, male or female. Other top of the line cocktail bars I’ve visited have had such, and don’t think it doesn’t matter. It is a simple matter of dressing conservatively, but tailoring, um, less so.

This last picture isn’t quite what I mean, but it was hard to find the right picture on the web without resorting to one or two that I took myself, of lady bartenders who might actually read this….

OK, enough with the eye-candy, let’s wrap up.

That means many of you can stop “reading” here….

The point that Darcy makes, which I agree with, is that in our civilization, no one makes you use your looks. Nor can they dictate how you choose to do it, should you choose to. Only in our ludicrously PC society would anyone equate a natural, automatic increase in your revenue and your earnings with being oppressed….

Similarly, if you got it, you’re an idiot not to use it. How you use it, or how much, is up to you. When choosing between otherwise identical bars, I’m going to the one where Cindy With the Rack works, at least most of the time. I’m not being crass, I’m being honest. In fact, straight as I am, I’m probably going to prefer the bar with they guy who looks like Robert Downey, Jr, over the one with the bartender who looks like Marty Feldman. (Kids, Marty Feldman was a famous… never mind.) You see, attractiveness isn’t just about sex. It’s about being pleasant to simply be facing for a while.

This is the world we live in. It is not going to change much. None of what is at issue here is about right and wrong. It is about practicality. If you are good-looking, use it, it’ll work out well for you and your customers. But don’t forget you still have to work, care, and educate yourself well, or you will not cut it as a bartender. If you look ordinary, fine. Grump about the “unfair” advantage of others, then out-work and -create the pretty people, and you will do better than they. It might be harder at first. As someone who, um, has never gotten a lot of professional advantage from his looks, I sympathize. Any way you cut it, it is the truth, so we might as well laugh about it from time to time. Humor is the natural human mechanism for dealing with truths, especially the slightly uncomfortable ones.


  1. Jordan

    23 April

    I think the main difficulty is that, much like people with a significant amount of wealth, gaining position via personal appearance leads to two major issues. First, one is never again sure why people value them. While it’s certainly nice to have those kinds of advantages, that uncertainty is the reason why I never, ever want to be even a little bit famous. I’m paranoid enough as is. Second, while looks may give you a leg up early, it obviously won’t last forever. It can prove to be a curse in the long run if employers believe that you were hired for your looks rather than your skills. And skills usually last longer than looks. Which is all to say, it’s a complicated mess.

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  2. Dagreb

    2 May

    The thing about the Marty-Feldman-bartender is you’d never really be sure if he was taking your order or one from someone at the other end of the bar…

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  3. Doug

    3 May

    Perhaps Marty Feldman Bartender is taking your order AND the order of the person at the other end of the bar. Chameleon Vision!

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  4. Freddy

    26 May

    I must have read this entire article 3 times tonight. Great writing man! Nice job. Nothing childish or “wrong” about some gratuitous boob pics btw. Loving me the rules!

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  5. Shaun Naborn

    21 April

    like it or not.
    looks is a major factor in our profession. you have to accept, that’s the way it is. Although those who do not have looks but with exceptional skills and talent excels, if you’re just miss simple or mr. ordinary with ordinary talent well..train harder, lol kidding

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  6. Luis Sanchez

    18 October

    Hire bartenders for events. A place to book a bartender for your next event. Hire bartenders, book a bar and other event staff by visiting the website. Hire bartenders

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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