Bartenders are Superheroes

It’s 2018, and we’re living in the era of the Side Hustle. Millions of Americans are pursuing creative dreams alongside full-time jobs, or careers, that may or may not be fulfilling but are integral for funding day-to-day life. My friend, Jess, frequently talks about her favorite “Ted Talk” from a couple of years back by Emilie Wapnick, who discusses the idea of the “multipotentialite,” and the notion that many of us have various “true callings” and passions to explore in our lives. Many of us 20- and 30-somethings are freelancing, creating, founding and advocating for charitable organizations or social issues, often while slinging beverages long into the wee hours to pay the bills. So many service industry folks make up this community of multipotentialites and, as I told LEO readers a few months ago, I’ve set an intention this year of voicing my gratitude for those who inspire me and bring me joy. Let me tell you about a few bartenders/servers who I know and love and who are side-hustling their way through 2018 and changing lives whilst pouring bevvies. Full disclosure: This may get a little sappy.

My girl Chana is a server several days a week, bringing craft brews to the pubgoers of Louisville, while also running the local and global nonprofit, MedWater. MedWater, founded in 2013, works to create access to water sanitation and hygiene in indigenous communities in South America and Africa. Chana, her cofounder Darrell and their cohorts literally hike through the treacherous jungles of Ecuador several times a year to bring clean water solutions to impoverished villages. The woman taking your order saves lives in her spare time. Last week, she coordinated a successful chocolate and bourbon collaborative event with Mint Julep tours and Cellar Door Chocolates that helped fund their programs. Make it a double, am I right?

I have another dear friend who uses her magic hands for more than libation building. When she’s not crafting Old Fashioneds, Amanda is healing the tired bodies of Louisville at Novo, her independently-owned and licensed massage studio on Frankfort Avenue. Amanda became well-versed and certified in all the intentional rubs while bartending and can still flip from Zen therapeutic master to high-volume bartender in a matter of minutes. Side hustle game strong, y’all.

It’s time for me to brag on my partner for a second, friends. My main squeeze is a heart-throbbing barkeep by night and an incredibly-talented musical composer by day (and night, really). Jamie has spent the last decade in a band, traveling all over the country to bring beautiful and unique sounds to the ear holes of the masses. When he’s not on tour runs, he’s replenishing his bank account by mixing sazeracs and slaying dinner service. Beyond that, he also works to freelance musical composition projects — from video work to podcasts to commercial use. I’m frequently in awe of his true discipline to his craft, and how he can spend an entire day in his “beat lab” creating and, then when the clock strikes 5, he jumps behind the bar and provides impeccable service. He can do it all.

Now, I don’t think I could talk about passionate bartenders without giving yours truly a little self-love, as well. A long-time veteran of the service industry, I cofounded the local nonprofit, animal welfare organization Saving Sunny in 2010. At Saving Sunny, we work to rescue dogs and provide free and low-cost resources to pet owners living in underserved communities. I’m forever indebted to the service industry for allowing me to be able to pay my bills while pursuing other endeavors that light my fire. However, I am still passionate about the bourbon, spirits and hospitality industries. Many people are, and it’s an incredible and booming industry to get immersed in, especially in Louisville.

It’s OK to be a multipotentialite.

So many of us have colorful and varied stories that make up the fiber of who we are. It is my wish that bar and restaurant patrons would always (as most do) treat industry workers like the vibrant, interesting people that they truly are. The next time you belly up to the bar, perhaps you’ll begin to wonder, what makes this barkeep’s world go ‘round?