Would You Date a Bartender?

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[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

Valentine's Day has us thinking about romance. And to us, there's nothing more romantic than a captivating conversation over cocktails. But would you date the cutie on the other side of the bar?

Dating a bartender has its benefits: you already know that your favorite bartender is attractive and creative, and they probably sparked your interest with charming conversation. Your bartender-beau can try out new drinks on you, and might have some time during the off season for a little world traveling.

"Having a bartender at home is about as fun as it sounds," says our contributor (and former Managing Editor) Carey Jones. During recent snowstorms, Carey says, her bartender boyfriend concocted seasonal blood orange-cranberry daiquiris "and experimented with numerous hot toddies; during the holidays we had fresh eggnog better than anyone's."

An amazing home bar is a big side-benefit: "We have the most absurdly well-stocked liquor cabinet, with hundreds of bottles, every imaginable shaking/muddling/juicing implement, a dozen kinds of bitters. And his experiments are all around the house—right now there's Sichuan peppercorn-infused white rum, a barrel-aging mezcal-Scotch cocktail with about 10 weeks on it, cardamom simple syrup and rosemary honey in the fridge." This sort of working at home sounds pretty appealing: "Also fun: sitting on the couch while he develops a cocktail menu and brings over new drinks for assessment every 15 minutes. It's fun to collaborate, too; I feel very cool when I come up with an idea that makes it onto his list, and even cooler when I name it!"

But there are downsides, too. Namely: the hours. If your partner works nights and you work days, you may never see each other. "I date a day-walker," says Maxine Sharkey Giammo, a bartender at Sarma in Somerville, MA, "so I mostly see my boyfriend angelically asleep when I get home." Giammo doesn't recommend that bartenders date other bartenders, though: "At our best, we are slightly dysfunctional, overthinking, highly social introverts, which is a ratio I wouldn't raise to the 2nd degree."

Others say bartender-bartender relationships are ideal: Claire Sprouse, who can be found at San Francisco's The Hideout at Dalva, says dating a bartender works out: "Our relationship is easier to navigate since we both have similar schedules, appetites for destruction, and an understanding that a little winking across the bar at guests is just part of the job and part of the fun."

Not sure you could handle a bunch of bros trying to get the attention of your lady friend instead of just admiring the skillful way she carves ice spheres? Would you flip out over a gaggle of girls giggling at your man's jokes? Maybe dating a bartender isn't for you...

For some, it comes down to one big risk. If you get together with the bartender at your favorite neighborhood joint, and then things don't work out, you may have to break up with the bar. And there are only so many great bars out there.

Tell us: would you date a bartender? If you've done it, do you have any advice?

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is a Senior Editor at Serious Eats, based in San Francisco. She founded Serious Eats: Drinks in 2011. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.

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