Last week we celebrated the National Bartenders Day, an initiative promoted by the Havana Club rum brand that involved a few professionals from the Spanish bars in a beautiful game in which recipes of cocktails were passed to each other and they had to replicate the cocktail received and forward it to another partner to continue the challenge.
This event inspired me to continue with a previous post that dealt with the definition of the bar professionals and how to name them for their correct identification. About the “Bartender” we spoke in the mentioned post.
Thus, as promised, we are preparing to develop the definition and we enter in more modern and international terms adapted to the evolution of the sector itself.
We will start with the very taken and brought term of “Barman”.
Bartender. (From the English barman).
m. In charge of serving or preparing alcoholic drinks in the bar of a bar.
Spanish Language Royal Academy
The term “Barman”, officially adopted by our language from English, is currently the most commonly used, and is defined as “person in charge of serving or preparing alcoholic beverages at the bar”. It is at this point that we are closest to defining the tasks of the cocktail specialist, although the delicious non-alcoholic cocktails and the non-alcoholic drinks service are forgotten in this definition.
Regarding the plural of this word, if we stick to the language of origin would be “barmen”, which could be perfectly valid although the Academy does not admit it. In this case, the RAE validates the plural “barmanes”, a term which is strange when written, and uncomfortable to listen. In addition our maximum linguistic organism also does not recognize the plural “barmans”, what denominates “false English plural”.
In this sense the Spanish professionals unanimously prefer to use the plural “barmans”, making ours the words of Pepe Dioni, recently elected President of the International Bartenders Association noted:
“… that they also respect our options and one of them that admits, such an important Institution (the RAE), is to make the voices of the people, the sayings and the modern appellatives their own. That’s why we keep fighting to call ourselves Barmans and not Barmen or Bármanes, maybe one day we will recognize that plural and not Anglicism Barmen or the stranger for us Bármanes “. Barman Magazine. FABE October 2010
We send our congratulations to Mr. Dioni, who is doing an exceptional job for the benefit of our profession and of those who integrate it. We will have to keep fighting so that the voices of the professionals who love the sector are heard and they are the ones who best understand and define it.
One question that many readers of the magazine will ask is how to name the women who work behind the bar. According to the dictionary it is exactly the same as for men, so we would say “the bartender”. It is certainly not the best way chosen by the named Institution, since the suffix “-man” means as we all know, “man”. However, we are not allowed to say “barmaid” which would be the correct english form and the most elegant and feminine, in my humble opinion, as opposed to “barwoman” that sounds more like a woman with “super-powers” than anything else.
Shopkeeper, ra. m. and f.
Owner or dependent of a store, especially groceries.
m. and f. Person who makes tents or takes care of them.
Spanish Language Royal Academy
The definition offered does not have much to do with the specialized work of a modern bar, but rather responds to a general definition. They only thing in common is the counter or bar top.
However, in this S.XXI where globalization through the Internet has brought all countries closer, the import of English words is moving at a frenetic pace. The adaptation of these words to our daily language is not always done in an orthodox way.
“Bartender” is the word commonly used in Anglo-Saxon countries and has now been established internationally, including Spain.
Translated into Spanish, “bar-shopkeeper”, it seems that sounds vulgar, however, this is because of the extreme snobbery that leads us to prefer to pronounce the foreign word before looking for its synonym in Spanish, causing the latter to fall into oblivion and the disuse.
However, if we want to use the language properly, we cannot use the word “bartender”, since it is not included in our dictionary and the English language dictionary that defines it as: “a person serving drinks at a bar”, that is, a person who serves drinks in a bar.
Therefore, given that the spanish language allows to cover this definition with several words, it is not coherent to use the english word. It is usually more to give importance to oneself, showing off that foreign languages are known, evidencing, without knowing it, the lack of knowledge of our own language.
In any case the word shopkeeper, in Spain, has always had a connotation of low qualification and scarce specialization, so we must continue looking for other terms that best define our dear friends who prepare their wonderful combinations with their techniques and good arts.
Another word commonly used in the sector is “Mixologist” or “Mixologist”. In these two cases, it is only a matter of quick transcriptions from English to Spanish, with no other aim than embellishment in the colloquial language.
Mixologist is, in english, the bartender specialized in the creation of new cocktails and elaboration of surprising mixtures. It is a professional of the highest possible qualification that in Spanish could well be called “mixer” or “master mixer”, to give more emphasis.
In conclusion, we must adjust to the origin of the words and use them or adapt them to our language as it marks the tradition and the rules of the Spanish Language Royal Academy, which surely ride slower than the current times but it is the only official linguistic law to which we can cling without doubt to fail.
Finally, we must recommend the withdrawal from our language of words with whose use professionals of the bar are totally against, and curiously according to the RAE. These are words like “coctelero” (Skaking-man”), which sounds more like “coconut tree” or “puppeteer” than anything else. This word invented by people outside the sector, such as marketing and advertising departments, has permeated our society to the point that you can hear the bar professionals themselves use this linguistic degeneration. Something really sad …
From Wine Tasting Spain we wish that this reading time in our corner of the Bar has been entertaining and instructive for all of you and that it helps you to call the real bar professionals by their name and differentiate them from those who are not.
Opinions, corrections, points and debates on this subject are welcome. I can assure you that it gives a lot of play in the professional forums.
I do not want to say goodbye to you without commenting that these days the National Spanish Cocktail Team is in this momento in Copenhagen representing our country and our profesión at the World Cocktail Championship organized by I.B.A. (International Bartenders Association). Our 2017 spanish champions were Alberto Aceña from Castilla y León, and Cristian Balta from Madrid. Good luck to our champions and to continue with the successes.