. The art of bartending
Serving alcohol not all fun and games

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 19/00) - It's a rocking Friday night at the Black Knight Pub and the electrifying atmosphere is undeniable.

As bartender James Hodgson makes his rounds, he is greeted by the smiling faces of the pub's most devoted regular customers.

"It's nice to put a drink in front of someone before they sit down, to know exactly what they drink and where they sit," he says with a grin.

For Hodgson and his fellow co-workers, bartending is a profession, although not commonly recognized as such.

"Everybody is having a good time and people think it's all just a fun thing, but it's a living for a lot of people and those people take a lot of pride in doing it," says Hodgson.

Flipping bottles and mixing fancy beverages is not only a career for Hodgson, it's a form of art.

"It's creative in the drinks that you make, it's creative in mixing the different alcohols, knowing what goes with what and making them the way people want them.

"Putting a drink in front of someone and that person saying 'Wow man, that's good,' gives you a lot of satisfaction," he says.

Although bartending may seem like the ideal job, it does have certain downfalls.

Hodgson says the long hours can be difficult. There are times when he doesn't arrive home until 3 a.m., only to find himself heading back to the bar six hours later.

But Hodgson is more fortunate than his fellow co-workers as he maps out the employee schedules each week.

"There are people who work here five or six nights a week and they don't really have much of a social life. Instead of partying with the people they're serving the people and that's probably the biggest downfall," says Hodgson.

Since bartenders are seen serving alcohol more often than consuming it, Hodgson said he and his colleagues have to be wary when they let loose on rare evenings off.

"You have to behave around your customers, more so in Yellowknife because it's so small and everybody knows everybody.

"Believe me, if we do something wrong we hear about it," he says.

All in all, Hodgson thoroughly enjoys the fast-paced working environment, especially since the Black Knight attracts such an easy going and friendly crowd.

"People come here to be social and to hang out.

"People who are out to cause trouble don't come to the Black Knight pub.

"People who want to have a good time come to the Black Knight pub," says Hodgson.