Mixology and the New Economy

Mixology and the New Economy

“I’m making so much money, here’s to never getting a real job.”

“So what else do you do, besides bartend?”

“I just want extra money, that’s all, I don’t want this to be a full time job or anything.”

“When are you going to get a real job?”

We hear this kind of stuff all the time at MWI.  The theme is always the same:

Bartending isn’t a real job.  It’s not like being a doctor, or a lawyer, or working in the corporate world.  It’s not serious.  Every time I head the word real, I think back to that summer when I watched the Matrix 10 times.

What is “real?”  How do you define “real?”

What makes any job real?  Is bartending real for the college student who uses it to pay for school?  Is it real for the former real estate agent in his 50s who turned to bartending when the market dried up, and now relies on it to make connections as it bounces back?  Was it real for my mom, who put me through private school and my dad through grad school bartending?

Ok, so maybe the money is real, but should it be considered a career?

In the last 30 years, a lot of changes have happened in our society.  Most of our factories have closed, things aren’t made in America.  We ended shop programs in high school and ushered in computer training. According to Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, this is emblematic of how we’ve attempted to separate jobs into high paying white collar ones where you “think” and low paying blue collar ones jobs where you “do.”  We value doctors, lawyers, and programmers.  We don’t value mechanics, electricians, and firefighters as much (we might say we value firefighters, but how much do we pay these people who often work for free to keep us safe…not much).  And this way of looking at the world applies even to what the movie Cocktail referred to as the “aristocrat of the working class,” the bartender.  We might make money, but we don’t belong with the PhDs.

That’s how we used to see the world at least.  With the new recession, that attitude is coming back to kick us in the face.  I met someone today with three degrees who can’t find a job.  He works an entertainer who scares people at a haunted hayride, and is buried in student loans.  A lot of people who thought education would give them a safe and secure future are turning to Mixology, and the truth is, in the new economy being a Mixologist is a job you can always count on.  Why is that?

Crawford sites Princeton economist Alan Blinder, who writes about the falling job security in the US:

Many people blithely assume that the critical labor-market distinction is, and will remain between highly educated (or highly skilled) people, and less-educated (or less skilled) people…The supposed remedy for the rich countries…accordingly is more education and a general “upskilling” of the work force.  But this view may be mistaken…The critical divide in the future are those types of work that are easily deliverable through a wire (or via wireless connections) with little or no diminution in quality and those that are not.

Blinder’s point is that “You can’t hammer a nail over the internet.”  He suggests that jobs like construction that require on site work will rise in value, and that jobs that can be outsourced to other countries will go down in value.  The white collar workers are in trouble because there’s plenty of competition in India, China, or the Philippines, with people who can do the same job for much less.

Crawford then goes on to cite MIT economist Frank Levy, who argues that the issue is whether a service is “rule based” or not.  Jobs that are formulaic, like filling out a Tax Report, are in more trouble than jobs that require a human touch, and creativity.

Mixology is more than just a way to make money.  It has the capacity for complexity, depth, and creativity.  There’s a human aspect to going to bars that’s so compelling, that people aren’t willing to give it up when the economy takes a hit.  As customers become more educated, they will demand more inventive and creative drinks.  The industry will continue to grow.  As Ariel always says: “If you go to the middle of the desert, you may not be able to find a supermarket, but you’ll find a bar.”

Mixology is a career.  Get with the times.