Cheers to Tears

Overcoming the Challenges of Being a Sober Bartender: Success Stories and Tips for Staying Sober

Sober Bartending: Overcoming Challenges and Telling Success Stories

Bartending has always been a profession where alcohol is a crucial part of the job. Bartenders are expected to know their drinks, their customers’ preferences, and how to spot when customers are intoxicated.

Alcohol is often used as a lubricant for socializing, and bartenders are often part of the drinking culture. However, in recent years, some bartenders have chosen sobriety, and they have several challenges to navigate.

In this article, we will explore the challenges of being a sober bartender and tell success stories of those who have overcome these challenges while remaining sober.

Challenges of Being a Sober Bartender

Dealing with Alcohol and Intoxicated People

One of the most significant challenges when it comes to being a sober bartender is dealing with alcohol and intoxicated people. Alcohol is the primary reason for visiting a bar, and bartenders are expected to be knowledgeable about alcoholic beverages.

They are responsible for serving alcohol responsibly and ensuring that customers are not over-served. However, intoxicated customers can be difficult to handle, and their behavior can be unpredictable.

The sober bartender must maintain a clear head while dealing with intoxicated customers. They must be patient, calm, and non-judgmental in handling drunk customers.

They must also learn how to spot when a customer has had too much alcohol and needs to be cut off. It’s not an easy task, but with experience and knowledge, it’s one that a sober bartender can handle.

Navigating Work Stress and Relationships Without Alcohol

Many bartenders use alcohol as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, and sober bartenders must find other ways to deal with work stress and maintain relationships. Stressful situations are common in the bar industry, and managing stress is crucial to avoid burnout.

Sobriety offers a clear mind and the confidence to handle stress. The sober bartender must also maintain relationships with other bartenders and customers while being sober.

Some bartenders use alcohol as a social lubricant, and it’s challenging to socialize and bond with coworkers and regular customers without relying on alcohol. However, building genuine connections with people is possible without alcohol.

Saying “No” to Patrons and Handling Questions About Sobriety

It’s common for bartenders to accept a drink from a patron as a token of appreciation or respect, but for a sober bartender, accepting a drink is not an option. They must learn how to say “no” politely while still maintaining a positive relationship with the customer.

Sobriety may also spark questions from customers who are curious about why the bartender doesn’t drink. It’s essential for the bartender to be comfortable in sharing their reasons and explaining that sobriety does not affect their ability to do their job.

Tasting Drinks for Quality Control Without Drinking

Tasting drinks is essential for quality control, but for sober bartenders, it’s a challenge. Tasting drinks without drinking is a skill that must be learned, as it’s vital to identify if a drink has the right flavor profile.

Bartenders must use their taste buds, smell, and sight to evaluate drinks instead of relying on personal experience.

Individual Challenges of Being a Sober Bartender

The challenges of being a sober bartender are personal and differ among those who choose sobriety. Some sober bartenders may have personal struggles with addiction and find it challenging to be around alcohol.

Others may struggle with finding a community of sober bartenders to connect with and share their experiences.

Success Stories of Sober Bartenders

Despite the many challenges faced by sober bartenders, many have found success in their profession while remaining sober. Here are some inspiring success stories of sober bartenders who overcame the obstacles:

Jack McGarry’s Success Story: Jack McGarry is the owner and bartender of the Dead Rabbit in New York.

McGarry chose sobriety after battling alcohol addiction and has been sober for over a decade. McGarry faced the challenge of tasting drinks for quality control without drinking them, but he mastered the skill by using his senses.

Cera Grindstaff’s Experience: Cera Grindstaff is a sober bartender at Dreamland and the Stampede Cocktail Club in Missouri. Grindstaff struggled with alcohol addiction and realized sobriety was the best choice for her.

She has found success in her profession while remaining sober and strives to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for her customers. Chris Cardone’s Journey: Chris Cardone is a flair bartender who chose sobriety for his health and well-being.

Cardone struggled with socializing with coworkers and customers without relying on alcohol, but he found that he could still bond with others through other means, such as music and laughter.


Being a sober bartender is not without its challenges, but many have found success in their profession while remaining sober. Dealing with alcohol, managing work stress, saying “no” to patrons, tasting drinks, and personal struggles are all obstacles that sober bartenders must overcome.

However, with experience, knowledge, and support from the community, sober bartenders can thrive in their profession while remaining sober.

Tips for Staying Sober in the Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is known for long hours, high stress, and a culture that often revolves around alcohol. For sober individuals in this industry, staying focused on sobriety can be a challenge.

However, there are several tips and strategies that can help individuals maintain their sobriety in the restaurant industry. In this article, we will explore these tips in detail to help those in the industry stay sober.

Communicating Boundaries and Seeking Support

One of the most critical aspects of staying sober in the restaurant industry is effectively communicating boundaries and seeking support. It’s important to let coworkers and supervisors know about your sobriety and what that means for your daily activities.

For example, you may need to decline invitations to after-work drinks or politely pass on drinks offered by customers. Establishing clear boundaries and expectations can help to avoid uncomfortable situations and prevent relapse.

It’s also essential to seek out support from others in the industry who are sober or who understand the challenges you’re facing. There are many support groups and organizations for sober individuals in the restaurant industry, such as Ben’s Friends.

These groups offer a community of support and understanding that can help you maintain sobriety. Developing an Engaging, Sober Life Outside of Work

Finding ways to engage in an exciting life outside of work is another helpful tip for staying sober in the restaurant industry.

When working in an environment where alcohol is prevalent, it’s crucial to have non-drinking activities that you enjoy. Adrienne Oakes, a former bartender, found that creating art helped her stay sober and feel fulfilled outside of work.

Sam Anderson, another former bartender, discovered hiking as a way to satisfy his adventurous side and relieve stress. Finding hobbies, creative outlets, and other enjoyable activities can help to fill the void left by alcohol and create a fulfilling life beyond work.

Finding New Ways to Manage Stress

Stress is a part of everyday life, but it can be a significant trigger for relapse. In the restaurant industry, stress can come in the form of long hours, demanding customers, and intense pressure to perform.

Developing new ways to manage stress can help to reduce anxiety and keep you focused on sobriety. One effective stress-management technique is mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment, taking deep breaths, and observing your thoughts without judgment. Another technique is self-care, which may involve activities like exercise, getting enough sleep, and spending time outdoors.

It’s important to find what works best for you and incorporate those stress-management techniques into your daily routine.

Considering Professional Help

Finally, if you’re struggling to maintain sobriety on your own, it’s crucial to consider professional help. Recovery programs and counseling can help to provide additional support and resources for staying sober.

Naltrexone is a medication that can help to reduce cravings for alcohol and prevent relapse. Ria Health, an online recovery program, offers access to medication-assisted treatments like Naltrexone, as well as personalized coaching and support.

Professional help can be beneficial for those who need extra support in maintaining sobriety. Don’t be afraid to reach out and explore the options available to you.


Staying sober in the restaurant industry can be a challenge, but it’s essential for maintaining good health, job performance, and overall wellbeing. Communicating boundaries, seeking support, developing an engaging, sober life outside of work, finding new ways to manage stress, and considering professional help are all essential tips for staying sober in this industry.

Incorporating these tips and strategies into daily life can help to maintain sobriety and lead to a fulfilling and successful career. In conclusion, staying sober in the restaurant industry requires a combination of effective communication, support, engaging non-drinking activities, stress management, and considering professional help.

By implementing these tips and strategies, individuals can maintain sobriety while succeeding in the industry. Here are some common FAQs that address key topics and concerns related to staying sober in the restaurant industry:


How can I effectively communicate my sobriety to coworkers and supervisors in the restaurant industry? – Be clear and specific about your boundaries and expectations, and don’t be afraid to politely decline invitations to after-work drinks or customer drinks.

2. What are some non-drinking activities I can do to stay engaged outside of work?

– Find hobbies or creative outlets that you enjoy, such as art, hiking, or sports. 3.

How can I manage stress in the restaurant industry without turning to alcohol? – Use effective stress-management techniques like mindfulness, self-care, or seeking professional help when necessary.

4. Professional help may be an option for me, but I’m hesitantwhat should I do?

– Remember that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, and there are many options available, such as recovery programs, counseling, and medication-assisted treatments like Naltrexone.

Popular Posts