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Many people sit across that foot and a half of bar and wonder what it would be like to be on the ‘other side’. The truth is there are many attributes and perks that make someone want to be on that side serving across that wood or stone barrier. Through the following posts I will be hitting on the topics that make bartending a dream and some that make it a nightmare. Along the way there will be tips, insider information and just plain fun when it comes to your favorite watering hole.

So what exactly makes me an expert on this storied profession? I originally arose from the Midwest and got into bartending during my college years in order to help pay for not only my education but also for the expenses that come about in being a college kid. When people ask what there was to do in my home town, the most common answer was, “We Farm and Drink….And Drink and Farm.” This portion of my bartending career began in a high volume college bar, and when I say high volume it was four to five hundred college kids on a normal night and even more during a football Saturday. I jumped at the opportunity to become a bartender, and with no formal training besides being my own “mixologist” at home, it was the best way to begin. I was thrown directly to the wolves and given an entire bar to myself on day one. In my opinion this is the best way to determine if the bartending profession is for you or not. This training style is what brought to light my love for bartending. More info on that incredibly story filled portion in later chapters.

“I was thrown directly to the wolves and given an entire bar to myself on day one. In my opinion this is the best way to determine if the bartending profession is for you or not.”

I continued my bartending job all the way through graduation and when I moved to Texas to continue my education my love for bartending followed as well. It became not only a job, but a release from school and the grand amount of papers and homework that were due on a daily basis. Texas introduced me to bartending in a fine dining establishment. Which for most bartenders you are either a restaurant bartender or a bar bartender. Very rarely does one jump from one to the other as atmosphere…service…and in general attitudes are different in the two. I was lucky to feel comfortable in both settings as this allowed me to learn and hone all the classic cocktails and create that perfect martini.

Many more jobs ensued during this time, from sports bars to wine bars and even slinging drinks on the elusive “6th Street”. Graduation occurred one more time and in my mind bartending was never a thought to me as a career, but rather a fun and enjoyable job to escape the normal 50 hour week which I worked fresh out of college. I would work a normal eight hour day and then change clothes and bartend until two in the morning. I tried getting out of the bartending game but it has always pulled me back in.

Ten years have now passed and even though bartending is not my career it is and always be one of my passions. Living now in the great foodie center of the nation, Houston, I continue to balance my career and my love for bartending. Now in a farm-to-table concept restaurant, it brings bartending to a whole new level having to use fresh and organic ingredients to create a concoction which elaborates and helps the restaurant’s vision.

I look forward to answering all the questions you have ever had or wanted to ask on the profession of bartending as well as sharing some of the stories which have helped keep my love for bartending alive and on the other side of that foot and a half of space.

Paul Espinosa

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