The tables are turned. These bartenders have stories to tell.

Fri 09 2017  |  admin

The Bartenders of Raleigh Instagram account seeks to shine a light on those who make the drinks. The account has featured 45 bartenders since it was created in 2015 and has racked up more than 1,000 followers.

The tables are turned. These bartenders have stories to tell.

Sharing photos of craft cocktails and other concoctions on social media, particularly Instagram, is commonplace among bars and bartenders. They want to show off their creativity and attract customers to try their drinks.

But the Bartenders of Raleigh Instagram account seeks to shine a light on those who make the drinks.

The page is similar to Humans of New York, a popular website and social media account that posts portraits of everyday people on the streets of New York, accompanied by a quote that reveals something interesting or quirky about the subject.

As such, the Bartenders of Raleigh profile reads: “Bittersweet tales of the shakers and stirrers of our city. Sharing the truths of the trade one drink at a time. We are bartenders of Raleigh.”

Since its creation in 2015, the account has featured 45 bartenders and has racked up more than 1,000 followers. The photos show the bartenders come from restaurants and bars – both upscale, dive and everything in between.

Amanda Charles, who works in liquor sales, started the page. She said her job is the perfect way to meet potential subjects for the account. She’s always been intrigued by the bartending community, she said.

“I think it’s a community that is kind of mysterious and esoteric,” she said. “And in my day-to-day roles with my job, which is liquor sales, I’m seeing upwards of 10 bars a day. I’m talking to these bartenders as I sit on a bar stool, and I realize that these are really interesting people with great stories to tell.”

When Charles moved to Raleigh a little over two years ago, she didn’t know many people. She said running the account has helped her get to know the community.

“With my job, I was tasked with the responsibility of going out and selling liquor,” she said. “I wanted a way to really build these relationships with the people I’m talking to, beyond just a bottle of booze. It helped me in my day-to-day and also makes me more fulfilled, having these conversations.”

To get bartenders talking, Charles always asks them, “What separates your bartending from the others?”

“Generally, that just gets the ideas rolling and they have something to elaborate on, whether it be a cocktail that they make or whether it be a style that they use or the way they approach guests,” Charles said.

Looking forward, Charles would like to grow the Instagram account and move it beyond Raleigh, as she travels the state for business anyway. She isn’t sure about changing its catchy name, though.

Here are some of the stories behind the bartenders who have been featured on Bartenders of Raleigh.

Creative cocktails
“The best night at the bar is when guests let me use creativity in their cocktails, and not let worry overcome them. On any given night we pour an average of 300 drinks, and I like to offer my customers something they wouldn’t normally order. On the flip side, the worst night at the bar is anything frozen.” – Cassandra Lutz

Cassandra Lutz

Cassandra Lutz was interviewed for the Bartenders of Instagram account when she worked at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. She now bartends at Cornerstone Tavern on Glenwood Avenue.
Amanda Charles
Lutz was interviewed when she worked at Sullivan’s Steakhouse but now bartends at Cornerstone Tavern on Glenwood Avenue. She began bartending over a decade ago to help pay off bills, since her day job doesn’t pay well. She said she enjoys getting to know her regular customers.

“You actually develop friendships outside of the bar,” Lutz said. “I see a lot of people who have fallen in love, who are now getting married.

“It’s just fun to act like whoever you want to act like. Sometimes people ask me my first name, and I don’t tell them my first name. I kind of pretend I’m a different person. It’s a fun game that we play.”

She likes that Charles is bringing attention to an unappreciated art form.

“On Instagram, there’s so many accounts out there that are sometimes shocking and surprising,” said Lutz, adding the comparison to Humans of New York.

“Obviously we’re not as big as New York City, but I think it’s pretty cool they’re featuring bartenders in Raleigh,” Lutz said. “Because it’s not just a job to pay bills – it’s actually an art.”

A customers’ bar
“I opened the Blind BARbour as a customers’ bar. Patrons come in and ask what our well whiskey is, and I turn around and show them the shelf. I want everyone to be able to customize a drink according to their tastes, and if someone requests something we don’t carry, I’ll be sure to order it the next day. The customers are who create the identity of the bar; I just happen to have the keys to the door.” – Joey Barbour

Joey Barbour is the owner, operator and bartender at Blind BARbour on Medlin Drive in Raleigh. He started bartending seven years ago to make some extra money on weekends, but he loved his interactions with the customers. Barbour decided to open his own bar, the Blind BARbour. It opened in February 2016.

“I think I was just ready to branch out,” he said. “Where I’ve been before, it was more high-volume bars, very college-y type crowd.”

He said he wanted to be in a place with craft cocktails and a larger whiskey selection.

“I wanted it to be more where I could build on something and learn more aspects of bartending and creating drinks, rather than fast-paced, high-volume work,” he said.

Barbour said bartenders are in community not only with themselves, but with everyone else as well.

“Not everyone is going out to a bar super late, but everyone is going to restaurants to eat and going out and getting drinks,” he said. “Whether you’re a bartender at a high-end restaurant, Standard Foods or something, or you’re a high-volume bar on Glenwood South, you’re still a part of the community and people get to know you.

“You have people who come in, they know your face, we know their faces, we know their drinks, and it starts to turn into a friendship,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to keep people connected.”

Everything is a favorite
“I’m asked to pick a favorite and I say, whatever you enjoy, that’s my favorite. Whatever puts a smile on your face will always put a smile on mine. As for favorites, all of them is the answer.” – Beren Houck

Houck was unhappy working in retail at the time, and Bettinger told him they needed help manning the door. He started there and worked his way up to bar-back and eventually bartender, finding his passion for the craft along the way.

Houck said he is a hospitable person, so he enjoys that part of the job, as well as learning more about people’s lives.

Houck thinks the Bartenders of Raleigh Instagram page is helpful for bartenders to find inspiration.

“I would say for bartending, one of the best things that will make you better as a bartender is going and seeing other bartenders and seeing what they do and what drives them,” Houck said. “So I’ve always thought it was a really cool window into getting tidbits of other people’s experiences.”

Via New Observer