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Tales of the Cocktail Preview: Occupational Hazards

This is a preview of a seminar that will be given at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, which takes place July 20-24, 2011.

Occupational Hazards

This seminar, part of the pro-series, is targeted to bar professionals. Given the teaser below, I emailed seminar leader Charlotte Voisey a few questions. 


Time: 3 PM to 4:30 PM
Date: Wednesday the 20th of July, 2011
Venue: The Queen Anne Ballroom, Hotel Monteleone
Moderators: Charlotte Voisey
Panelists: Kirsten Amann, Ryan Magarian

A life with cocktails on tap is enviable to many. "You drink for a living? Are you hiring?" is the common retort to a cocktail professional explaining his or her work. But, just like a good cocktail, a healthy and prosperous career in this business comes from the right balance. Ryan Magarian and Charlotte Voisey host a long overdue session on bartender well being and life work balance with special guest Kitty Amann. Whether you aim to stay in the business longer or just be healthier while you do we'll discuss how to play it smart when it comes to diet, drinking, peer pressure, travel and exercise on and off shift. In addition the seminar will discuss the physical approach to bartending and offer tips, professional opinion and 'mocktails' for thought. Letter from your liver: please attend.

Your session says you'll be discussing the physical approach to bartending. Does that mean you'll be talking about workplace ergonomics?

I believe workplace ergonomics are an important piece of this puzzle, so yes we will address bar design, bartender clothing and shoes amongst other elements that contribute to one's physical well being.

What's the easiest way to sneak out of a party or bar when you've had enough but don't want all the cajoling to stay from your friends? 

 I used to worry about what conversations or bonding I was missing out on after midnight (as I would have ususally escaped by then) but then realised that after midnight  people usually go into story repetition mode and no one really recalls anything anyway.  But joking aside I would always make sure I thank my host and then slip out, if you try and say goodbye to everyone peer pressure may get the better of you.  Most real friends or supporters understand that if you are this industry for the long run that escaping a party to acheive balance is no shame.

You're on planes a lot. What's the secret to sleeping on planes?

Be small. My secret to a lot of things is exercise.  I rarely sleep badly in beds or on planes and I owe that to my body being active during the day so I am usually ready for sleep when night falls.  Blindfolds and ear plugs work if you have a window seat.  Plan to never be too cold or too hot (wear layers, bring a blanket).  I never carry too large a bag so I can always leave space to stretch my legs out.  Never cross your legs or even ankels, drink a good amount of water so that dehydration does not wake you up.  Reading always puts me to sleep.  Different things will work for different peole, but in general if you dress comfortably and condition yourself to relax it helps.  Book ahead and seek out the seats that give you extra room.  $50 to stretch your legs may give you six hours sleep verus none.

Do you have a general philosophy or important tip you can give bartenders to help achieve a proper work/life balance?

Know, or find out, what is really important to you in the long run and make sure your general behaviour is helping you to achieve those things.  From a professional stand point nurturing good realtionships and continual education are key and from a personal angle keep your body and mind fit and healthy so that you can enjoy family, friends, faith and all the things that you truly love.  There will be times when you have to immerse yourself in work to get ahead, just always strive to keep the bigger picture in mind - what is the end goal.  Ryan Magarian is very good at this work/life balance stuff which is why I wanted to work with him on this seminar.

Thank you Charlotte!