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What the other halves have to say

As bartenders, we are used to hearing about our customers’ relationships across the bar, whether it’s when things are going swimmingly or not; we’re used to playing cupid, encouraging new romances and even, on occasion, hosting a proposal, but how about our own relationships? We asked three different spouses what they thought their bartenders had to offer:

Engaged in London: Silvie, partner of late-night cocktail bar General Manager, Paolo (The Hide Bar)

“On the positive side, we have an ample liquor cabinet and vintage glassware for all occasions. Top class Manhattans in front of the TV are good, as is being part of the tasting panel for new cocktail list development. On the other hand though, working weekends and early morning wake-ups (bartender bedtime) aren’t so great. I’m also becoming a bar snob (pro?), which limits your choice of drinks, and in any case, you get judged on what you order anyway (no more cheap rosé allowed!). Finally, nights out at the bar are sometimes work nights for the rest of us, and I’m the one who needs to be up early the next morning!”

Tip: make sure you put aside enough time for each other, and not just time at the bar.

Newlyweds in China: Ariel on cocktail bartender husband Tree (Constellation, Shanghai)

“Timing is the main problem - when I want to go out, my partner is exhausted or asleep, while conversely there are only so many nights a week I can stay out drinking late and still get up for work in the morning! There are a lot of positives though - I don’t have to think about where to drink and what to order. My partner organises everything, can make drinks to suit my palate, and knows where all the best bars and restaurants are!

Longer term, if I have to move with work, bartending is a very mobile career. It’s great to know that if/when I have to work somewhere else; my partner will have plenty of opportunities.

Aside from that, bartending hours mean that we both get some personal space - important in any relationship!”

Tip: enjoy the time together and the time apart - remember absence makes the heart grow fonder!

Married with kids in Asia: Bryony on bartender husband Paul (various venues in Beijing and Phnom Penh)

“The hours are the main problem, we’re never awake and at home at the same time. On the plus side, there’s always someone at home with the children (even if they’re a bit sleepy!).

There are plenty of other positives - I get amazing cocktails when I’m home from work, and fantastic service from all the bartenders who know us when we go out (and we know where all the best places are!). We have an incredible selection ofthings to drink at home (when we’re both at home that is) and my palate has expanded enormously, along with my vocabulary (from hawthorne strainer to muddler, jigger, pot still and worm tubs!).”

Tip: Enjoy the fact that bartending is a career you can participate in as well as spouse!

So if you’re trying to convince your partner that bartenders really are viable long-term options, why not try out some of the points above; or, as another bartender said on overhearing this “wait, so bartenders can have spouses?”

Paul Mathew is a British bartender, drinks consultant and associate editor of DRiNK Magazine in Asia. He is based in Beijing, owns a bar in London, and regularly travels in-between looking at bartending styles and trends.