We Survived Prohibition, We’ll Survive COVID – A Brief History of Bartending in America
Bartending today is a respected profession, requiring specialized training and usually years of experience. Just as the popularity of bars as gathering places led to closures for public health reasons today, their popularity in years past also led them to be viewed as a social threat, albeit for far different reasons. A recent Business Insider article recaps some bartending history through images, and serves as a reminder of the bartender’s enduring role in American society.
- In the late 1800’s bars shifted from being associated with unsavory elements of society to being mainstream social meeting places. The status of the bartender rose accordingly.
- Laying the groundwork for this rise in prominence, a still-iconic bartender’s mixed drink recipe guide was published by Jerry Thomas in 1862.
- Due to segregation, an independent private mixology club was created in 1898 as a professional organization for Black bartenders.
- As of 1895, very few women worked as bartenders – 147 women compared to 56,000 men.
- As a counter to the growing popularity and normalization of establishments selling alcohol, Prohibition became law in 1919. A lot of bartenders changed professions. Others moved to Cuba to continue bartending, where a lot of Americans still frequented bars.
- Prohibition was an abject failure. It was repealed in 1933, and the bartending profession slowly began to rebuild in the US.
- Women entered the profession in greater numbers than ever before during World War II, but retreated again when the war ended. By the 70s, women were once again behind the bar, where they have remained since.
- The 80s brought a major proliferation in the craft of the bartender. Remember the movie Cocktail?
- In our current decade, if you’re bartending, you’ve probably had to work your way up to get there. And in many settings, bartending can open doors to other hospitality roles.
- As with many industries, there are continuing concerns about racial and gender equality in bartending, and equal access to the profession is evolving.
- Today, the profession is again under threat, due to widespread COVID-related closures of bars. If bartending was able to survive prohibition, it is sure to survive COVID.
Be A Part of the Tradition with BASSET On The Fly
As with all industries, bartending has certainly changed over time and will continue to do so. What hasn’t changed is the vital role that you play in keeping people safe when you sell or serve alcohol. That’s why it’s incredibly important to keep your BASSET certificate up-to-date. BASSET On The Fly’s online BASSET certification course is fast, informative, and just $12.99. Enroll today!Back to Blog