I’m a food and beverage writer, so it’s no secret that I love a good drink (especially if said drink is free). Naturally I’ve dated my share of bartenders around this fair city (come on... access to cocktails and complimentary shots at some of my favorite bars? Don’t judge). In that time, I’ve learned some important lessons on dating in the industry and gotten my heart shaken like a daiquiri more times than I’d care to admit. But still, amidst the late hours and tipsy quarrels, I’ve realized that dating a bartender in San Francisco is just plain fun. Sure, maybe it’s more realistic for the unemployed who don’t have to wake up for a morning meeting or the under-30-crowd, but it’s a rite of passage that every resident of SF should experience. Why, you ask? Allow me to divulge...
1. Free shots of fernet
And mezcal, and cans of PBR, and Dark 'n’ Stormys...
But let’s get back to the fernet. It’s officially San Francisco’s unofficial drink of choice, and you’ll be swimming in the stuff if you date a bartender here (hope you like the bitter liqueur). Even if you’re looking for a low key, “I’ll just have one beer” kind of outing, you’re bound to get poured a shot or two (or seven) before the night is over. And that can be a very good or a very bad thing, depending on what you’ve got going on the next day. And speaking of the next day…
2. You’ll be served one hell of a Bloody Mary without even leaving your apartment
With the endless bounty of San Francisco’s farmers markets, you’re sure to get a drink as fresh as a garden. Just make sure to hit up your weekly market in advance and pick out some ripe tomatoes and juicy limes... and keep vodka and all the extras on hand.
3. You’ll become an instant regular
San Francisco is bursting with neighborhood bars that attract unflinchingly loyal devotees. Maybe it’s because we all walk here, and we’re lazy and cheap (I mean, who wants to Uber for a beer you could get down the street?), so we rely heavily on our local watering holes; maybe it’s because there’s a sense of community here that LA and New York can't seem to foster. Whatever it is, you’ll find the same faces at a given bar just about every night. This means, if you’re dating the bartender, you’ll be immersed in the inner circle. You’ll never sit alone at the bar, snubbed by fellow patrons. You’ll fit right in with their motley crew of regulars and have fun chatting with the gang while waiting for his (or her) shift to end.
4. You don’t have to worry about them driving home after a couple of shift beers
Our little 7x7 city makes bussing and Ubering easier than hopping behind the wheel (I know, I know, we’re cheap, but we're not stupid). Sure, this may mean they get home a little later, but at least they'll have some time to sober up before seeing you.
5. You’ll get free rein (and free picks) of the jukebox
Anyone who’s dated a bartender knows that when the jukebox goes quiet, the bills come out of the register and guess who gets to choose the tunes? That’s right, we do. And I know I’ve definitely bummed out my fair share of patrons with a heavy dose of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen on a bustling Friday night. Sorry, not sorry.
6. Beards and flannel, mustaches and suspenders, tattoos and piercings
Need I say more? San Francisco bartenders come in all shapes and sizes, yes, but there are a few clear-cut styles that most drink-slingers here embody. If you like the idea of toting around one of these types of arm candy, you’re in luck. And speaking of arm candy…
7. You’ll feel like a celebrity sometimes
“Bartender” is its own class in San Francisco, and your honey will likely get stopped on the street like a celebrity. They’ll have drinks bought for them and compliments hurled at them... and these ricochet onto you, too. You’ll also get to be the +1 for a plethora of cocktail events, competitions, and parties (and this means, you guessed it, even more free drinks).
Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.
Eloise Porter is a freelance food and beverage writer who swears she’s dated a few guys who make an actual salary.