By Maureen Post Special to Published Sep 18, 2009 at 4:39 PM

The role of the bartender is a fuzzy one.

Yes, their ultimate job is to pour, make and bring you drinks in exchange for pay and tips. But regardless of what's listed on the formal job description, there's a social requirement to their position. Employee and customer perspectives may differ on this but silent rules govern the bartender to adjust attitudes and availability dependent on the crowd, occasion and evening.

 I've been on both sides of the conversation. I've been the bartender forced into continuous conversation on a day when I'm just not up to it and I've been the customer who wishes the bartender might step back a bit and leave me and my friends on our own. It's a dicey river to paddle to say the least.

But, recently, I was out of town and having dinner alone at the bar. It wasn't until the bartender said "Doing okay sweetheart?" that it struck me how much of the interaction is routine and simply a part of the job.

Somehow "sweetheart" and "honey" became bartender key words. Employed on the regular, bartenders (and not all bartenders, by any means) often refer to female customers by these two affectionate nouns. 

Hands down, I always think of the bartender as my friend. Specifically when I'm alone, I always count on the bartender to provide the incidental anecdote, weigh in occasionally with questions and provide the comfort of acquaintance should I bluntly realize that I am indeed alone.

There is undoubtedly, a double standard. Everyone wants the bartender by their side when they are bored and lonely but then hope they'll disappear the minute more pressing conversation with friends becomes available.

So, what's your bartender preference? Do you hope for someone to spark some conversation, simply be knowledgeable about the product or get your drink and go? Use the Talkback feature below to weigh in.


Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.