Shift Drinks: Dakota Bathurst

KF-web-SHIFT_DRINKS-DakotaB-MAIN.jpg

Dakota Bathurst is a bartender at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine. She is pictured here with a gin and tonic. 

Why did you select a gin and tonic? 

You know, it's nothing too crazy. It's a good beverage no matter the time or season. It always tastes good to me. It was the first real liquor that I had, too. You know, in high school you drink fucking warm PBR and shitty vodka that comes in a plastic bottle. It's not exactly the first experience for liquor.

That very first gin and tonic is so magical and refreshing, or at least I remember mine being that way. 

I remember having Hendricks for the first time and it as just amazing and so I stuck with that. I drink beer and other stuff too, but if I am drinking liquor, that's my go-to.

In the past you have mentioned that your mom (Michelle Bathurst, much beloved bartender at The Snug) as being a significant influence on you in your life and as a bartender. I am curious about how, beyond preparing you for your career path, your mom, who is notoriously outspoken, prepared you for adulthood. 

That's a very good question! [Laughs] With many different layers. She never lied to me… I mean, she never gave me more information than I could handle when I was younger but she never tried to sugarcoat anything. She was not afraid to swear in front of me. She never allowed me to swear, but she was never afraid to drop an f-bomb here and there.

In my restaurant career, I worked front-of-the-house, but I never did so as a young, attractive bartender. Based on what others who fit that description have told me, I imagine you have to deal with things day-to-day that I did not. Did your mom prepare you for dealing with humanity, shitty and otherwise? 

That is something I am very thankful that she prepared me for. She told me that I was going to have to deal with assholes who feel like they can say anything. She told me that it was not appropriate, and so I am not afraid to tell the people who do that that it is not okay, that they can't talk to me like that. I think a lot of women feel like it is not okay to speak up, or like it is just a part of being a woman to hear those things. You know, like you have to deal with guys saying shitty stuff to you. She taught me that it is not okay and that you don't have to deal with that. That's part of being a bartender, unfortunately… at least being a female bartender. Maybe it does happen to men, but...

But not frighteningly or aggressively so.

Right. And where I work, I don't have to deal with a lot of that. But there are definitely times when people get drunk and people feel more comfortable with what they can say. I mean, it happens with regulars, people that I know. When it does, it's like, first of all, I have a boyfriend so please don't talk to me like that, and second of all, it's not okay to talk to me like that even if I didn't have a boyfriend.

What do you think you have learned about yourself since you got behind a bar. 

Oh boy. I guess it is that I am not afraid to talk to people. I have a very strong personality. That has definitely helped me with people that I work with and people that I meet. I am not afraid to make conversation with people. Being behind the bar, you have to be able to do that. Nobody wants a bartender that just stands there and doesn't say anything. Part of the reason people go out is to talk and get to know people. I definitely think that's one of my stronger assets. And that willingness to talk to people helps me to become a better person too.

In your position, do you find yourself being more of a therapist, a confidant, or both? 

That's funny! A regular was recently in and he was going on about his daily job and the shit that he's going through at work. At the end he said, "Thanks for doing your duty as a bartender and listening to my problems." I had to laugh at that because it's true. I learn a lot about people's personal lives. They feel like they can tell me stuff and that's great! I think that's awesome. [Laughs] I don't know, I don't necessarily have the best advice to give to people but I listen, no problem. When that guy was talking about all of his issues at his workplace, I thought about how every restaurant has its issues and people that are a pain in the ass to work with and so that talk helped me too.

I listen to people's relationship problems too. The people I am around are between their 20s and 40s and so I hear a whole spectrum of relationship issues. People don't necessarily think that I am good for relationship advice because I am young, but I have given some and people have been surprised by it because I am only 22-years-old. Well, I have seen a lot of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in May of 2014.