This is a question that is brought up quite often. Personally, I feel that making cocktails is a job, and I have a work ethic that says that I don't drink on the job. The real thing about drinking behind the bar is for the safety of my customers. I cant cut someone off or make sure that they don't drive home if I'm as drunk or high as they are.
In the state of Florida it really isn't an issue, because it is against the law to be drinking and selling alcoholic beverages. Although illegal there are different types of bars and different atmospheres, I feel that the individual bartenders have to make their own decisions as to what they feel is right for them.
I have bartender friends that work in England where the bar scene is quite unique and different. William Cassin, the general Manager of Trailer Happiness a really fun London bar, had this to say about the subject. "For me, there is clearly an argument for both sides of this question, each
depending on individual circumstances and venues. But, ultimately, I am happy
for my crew at Trailer Happiness to have a few drinks behind the bar if they
see fit. I have been in situations where
it is completely inappropriate to drink behind the bar, which is why I made a
decision not to work in five star hotels anymore. Career bartenders (including
those who have worked in high-end hotel bars, nightclubs, pubs and cocktail
bars) are generally very responsible and mature. They are capable of deciding
when to turn down a shot and they understand when they have had enough to
I look at things differently than some, but I try to put myself on the other side of the bar and think if I would be happy being waited on by someone that was drunk and not really putting an effort forward making my cocktails properly or staggering around behind the bar. It is a job!!! You don't go to drunken lawyers, pharmacists, doctors, mechanics or most any other business, so why would you want to put up with a drunken bartender. ;o)