Last Call

By Jeremy Barbin, former bartender at La Cocina and current liquor rep, Aspen

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Empty pub with wooden bar, back bar, tables, and barstools.
Is there anything sadder than an empty bar? / fiphoto © 123RF.com

To you, he might look like a cowboy drinking a beer. To me, he is a broken soul drinking the same type of beer he always does on a Monday night, usually with his best friend by his side. But tonight he’s drinking alone after losing his friend to cancer three nights ago.

Smiling white man wearing a gray hoodie and black knit cap.
Here’s hoping your last call isn’t imminent. / Courtesy Jeremy Barbin

To you, they might look like a couple sharing a glass of Champagne. To me, they are role models of what love can be between two people who care deeply for each other as they toast 50 years together at the bar where they met.

To you, they might look like young adults sipping a cocktail. To me, it’s a friendship that started a week ago that has blossomed into a love story between two lonely people who have found the companionship they were searching for.

To you, I might look like a bartender. To them, I am a friend, a listener, an entertainer, a shoulder to cry on, and a voice of reason. Making cocktails is the easy part. 

As I look through the windows of my favorite bars and see the lonely stools, the blank faces behind the taps, my heart breaks. There are no cowboys grieving, no couples celebrating, nobody falling in love. What is more essential than that? To each of you who has spent his or her life being that voice of reason, that shoulder to cry on, I hope you are muddling through. I hope you haven’t given your last call.

Read the full collection of op-eds about bar culture in “Pouring It Out.

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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