The first Friday of December, which is December 3 this year, is Bartender Appreciation Day, and we can’t wait to share how much we love these servers! These bartenders (also called barkeepers, mixologists, alcohol servers, bar chefs) keep us coming back for more, serve us drinks and food, keep us company, and even share a story or two. We are raising a toast to the people who stay up tending the bar at our favorite restaurants, bars, and pubs.
History of Bartender Appreciation Day
This profession goes back to ancient times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Just kidding! But they did exist in ancient Greece and Rome, working in public drinking houses, which doubled as social gathering places. These guys worked through the centuries, commonly called ‘innkeepers’ in the 15th century (in Europe). Bartenders were usually alehouse owners or innkeepers (male or female) and would produce their own liquor. Since alcohol was frowned upon during the early ages, the profession had an unfavorable reputation.
Over the years, taverns and the like established themselves as important places for writers and professionals to conduct their business, and bartenders gained higher social statuses. As colonization increased, bartenders began appearing in the New World.
The 19th century brought many changes to the bartending scene in America. This became a respectable profession across the country and was even one of the highest-paying. Reportedly, Jerry Thomas, a famous bartender during those times, earned more than the then Vice President of the U.S.
The 20th century saw prohibition outlaw sale, consumption, production, and transportation of alcohol in the U.S., and the nation’s famous bars were replaced by illegal speakeasies. Bartenders found other professions or migrated to big cities like London and Paris. American drinkers that missed their old haunts visited these places with such frequency that ‘American bars’ came up across these cities. Hotels like the Savoy in London and the Ritz in Paris became hotspots for cocktails; their bars served up delicious new concoctions all the time. Back in the American speakeasies, new drinks and cocktails were being invented. The gin and tonic was one such invention that came about during the Prohibition Era.
Once prohibition was overturned, bars and cocktail lounges came up all over the U.S. Bartending schools opened up, and more people began choosing bartending as a career.
Sailor Jerry Rum founded Bartender Appreciation Day to honor all the people in this profession. They specifically chose early December as Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are some of the busiest times for bartenders, and so are Fridays. Sailor Jerry has also been petitioning to have this day declared as a paid leave for bartenders. The brand also partners with other organizations to set up special events, competitions and holds voting competitions to find the nation’s best bartender. They have even previously given out free pizza, clothing, and taxi rides home for bartenders.
Bartender Appreciation Day timeline
Bartender Jerry Thomas, popularly known as the godfather of the American bartending industry, writes “The Bon Vivant's Companion” or “The Bartender's Guide,” which includes the very written recipe for the martini and other famous drinks.
Another famous bartender, Harry ‘The Dean’ Johnson, publishes a manual that contains the first known reference to the classic gin martini — stirred, not shaken.
This famous drink is the invention of two bartenders — New York's Toby Cecchini, and later mixologist Dale Degroff (who adds a flambéed orange peel to the original recipe).
Sailor Jerry Rum creates this day to honor bartenders across America.
Bartender Appreciation Day FAQs
What day is National Bartender Day?
National Bartender Day is another name for Bartender Appreciation Day, which is held on the first Friday of December. This day honors all the work bartenders put in to make our lounging experience a great one.
What is World Bartender Day?
World Bartender Day is an international celebration to honor bartenders. It is held on February 24 each year.
How do you appreciate a bartender?
Some suggestions include complimenting their bartending technique, acknowledging their attention to the job at hand, respecting them, trusting them to do their job, and accepting their suggestions. Also, be well-behaved and avoid being a bad customer.
How to Celebrate Bartender Appreciation Day
Visit your favorite bartender
And let them know why they are your favorite. Share your appreciation for a job well done, and watch them light up.
Make a gesture of gratitude
As with most important gestures, it is the thought that counts. Show your appreciation and gratitude to the bartender(s) you meet on this day, in any way you prefer. Leave a bigger tip than usual (a big portion of their income comes from tips, so giving a little extra is a lovely gesture), buy them a drink (if they accept), or simply enjoy a few laughs together.
Make their job a little bit easier
Get into a cab when appropriate, avoid being the obnoxious drunk, and follow the rules. You lessen their headache by being a model patron, and stay safe too!
5 Awesome On-Screen Bartenders Everyone Loves
Sam Malone - “Cheers”
We'd love to walk into this guy's bar where apparently everyone knows your name.
Marion Ravenwood - “Indiana Jones”
This powerful lady handles any type of customer with ease, pours your shots (and downs her own like a pro) — and did we mention she owns and runs the bar?
Brian Flanagan - “Cocktail”
This young bartender played to the crowd, showing off his 'flairtending' skills, which are second only to his charisma.
Lil - “Coyote Ugly”
Lil serves drinks, downs one of her own, shuts noisy customers up, while simultaneously talking up her new hire for the crowd of people in her bar … all in the first two minutes after being introduced!
Moe Szyslak - “The Simpsons”
This dive bar owner is the best kind of worst bartender — mean-spirited, slightly skeevy, and reliable — he keeps his joint just as it always is, and sometimes that is what customers come for.
Why We Love Bartender Appreciation Day
They play an important social role
Bartenders do much more than simply pour us a drink — they offer quiet support, a non-judgemental ear, and a responsible shoulder to rely on. Their efforts need this recognition.
They deserve to feel heard too
They hear all our woes (knowingly or unknowingly). There should be a special day to show that someone cares about them too.
We learn so much about bartending itself
When this profession emerged, how perception has changed over the years, and how much studying goes into creating fun drinks for you — we gained a new respect for this profession after learning all this, and we're sure you did too!
Bartender Appreciation Day dates