Modern Bartender | Carina Soto Velásquez
Since I was 17 I have worked in restaurants and bars, generally in service as a waitress or a host. For 3 of those years, I worked in a Colombian restaurant in Paris. It was my third job in the city. I had to do everything there, from cleaning the bathrooms to counting and organizing the money. People trusted me and always gave me responsibilities, which help me learn how things functioned in the restaurant industry. It was working there where I took the decision to learn about hospitality and change my career path.
At that time I was at university in Paris studying sociology. I stopped because the school was too often on strike and I needed the money. I quit my studies and decided to work full-time and put some money aside to pay for a hospitality school in marketing and management. I left the Colombian restaurant where I was working and took 3 jobs at the same time. It was during this period when bartending appeared in my life.
The first time I discovered bartending was at a tapas bar. It was a very popular place and every day it was packed. One day the bartender got sick, and the manager asked me if I could do his job? I said yes…why not it can’t be that difficult I thought at the time. What a disaster! It was probably the worst shift of my life. After 2 hours the manager came to help me and he told me to just do what you are good at and stay on the floor.
This was the beginning, I needed to learn how to bartend. This process wasn’t easy, but I learned so much that I can’t be more grateful.
In 2007 nobody understood what I was doing and why I was so excited about it. My family, friends and even people from the industry ex-colleagues were confused. For a lot of people bartending was connected to flair bartending and it was another easy job for students that needed to work at night. I don’t know how many times I had to repeat that it was my real full-time job and I wanted it to be my career.
This situation was frustrating but at the same time an eye opener. People were curious and attracted by what was happening in the nightlife in Paris. It was something new, tasty, fun and most importantly affordable. Not only were the prices of the drinks accessible, but the cost of creating a bar in Paris at the time was also at an achievable level for young entrepreneurs. Here is where for me the modern bartender develops.
We are confident, independent thinkers. We are creative and multitasking in our profession. The biggest difference, however, is that we are connected. Bars and bartenders have tools that didn’t exist 20 years ago. The food industry has changed completely. The names of chefs and sommeliers have become trendy and popular. The media is interested in the gastronomy world and bartenders are no exception. The modern bartender has multiple faces, is knowledgeable and curious, takes risks and doesn’t work alone, and has a vibrant global community.
We are competitive and try to be the best at everything we do. We can find cocktails bars in places that we never thought could ever have a “modern bartender cocktail program.” We are ambassadors from the places where we work and from the cities where we live. We travel and use our skills to develop brands and competitions, to sell products, to create bar tools, to work with charities and more.
Today I am an entrepreneur. I can’t bartend on a daily bases anymore and it has been a very difficult process to step back and to delegate properly. But there is a moment when it happens, and running multiple business you need to be able to be present everywhere without having to be in service.
This profession has given me so much and I want to continue developing and diversifying what we do. Building a creative community based on a culture of collaboration and openness became the focus and mission statement of what I do with my two business partners, who have also abandoned service to become entrepreneurs. We believe our industry to be a connector. We are modern bartenders that feel responsible in doing the right thing, mentoring our teams and helping our industry to evolve in a sustainable way.