Sophistication: Not for Hire

I have a fairly diverse circle of friends, with an array of interests, education levels and professional callings. And I am just as likely to be screaming my head off at a hockey game as I am to be at an art gallery, enjoying a fine scotch and a cigar, debating politics over cheap beer or meeting new people at a friend’s party. Needless to say, I get around. What I have yet to experience, however, is the new trend that Tim Murphy describes in his piece in today’s New York Times, nor do I really have the desire to.

apt bar
Class, class, class. I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend the $200 on a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue

According to Murphy, hiring a bartender to work your apartment-party is the latest thing you can do to bring a higher level of class and sophistication to the affair – particularly among 20 and 30-somethings with smaller spaces. I went through a spectrum of reactions while reading the piece, from simply shaking my head at the absurdity, to feeling sorry for some of the people of my generation who look to the hiring of a bartender as a measure of class, and finally to pure bliss as I realized none of my friends are nearly as pretentious as the subjects of this piece.

Which brings us to the quote of the day. Take it away, Dustin Terry, whose self-described job is ‘to get models and Saudi royalty into hot clubs.’ He lives below where Claudia Argio’s get together, complete with a barkeep, took place:

In my opinion, if you don’t have a bartender at your party, you’re a loser. The bartender brings class and sophistication. If you can’t afford to hire a bartender, you shouldn’t be having a party.

That’s right, folks. If you can’t afford to pay a bartender to serve ready-made egg nog and vodka punch in your 400 square foot apartment in Williamsburg, then you have no business having a party at all. Because then someone whose sole purpose in life is to get rich, hot people into clubs just might judge you. Beware!

According to Murphy:

That seems to be the consensus of a growing crowd of 30-something New Yorkers who wish to signal they’ve graduated from post-collegiate squalor to young professional coming of age. No matter how small their abodes, they won’t invite friends over for cocktails without the assistance of a bartender — eve [sic] if there’s barely room for the bartender to stand.

Except that it’s not the consensus at all, at least among truly interesting people. You see, sophistication is a state of mind, an essence that one develops independently. It’s not something a person can bring to a party, like spinach dip or a bottle of Syrah. It’s not something you can purchase or rent. And it’s certainly not something you can fake.

It is cultivated by having a curious and genuine interest in the world and what goes on in it. It is honed by acting on that curiosity, taking an active role in the world around you and experiencing the best parts of life while doing it. And it is mastered by creating, affecting, changing and enhancing that world and everything in it through the work you have been called to do by whatever higher power calls you to do it.

That is the true coming of age that Murphy should be writing about.

The most gratifying social experiences that I’ve had only happened because of the individuals of all walks of life that I experienced them with. That they consisted mostly of a table of random spirits, homemade hor d’oeuvres and some indie rock playing on a laptop only added to the charm of the people with whom I enjoyed them. Meeting new people and sharing laughs and conversation with old friends, all of whom share in the intellectual curiosity I have, are what made these get togethers spectacular.

It unfortunate that people like Dustin Terry, Claudia Argio and even Tim Murphy may never get to experience something as satisfying.

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4 thoughts on “Sophistication: Not for Hire”

  1. Great post! When I originally read the first paragraph, I thought you wrote, “or meeting new people at Friendly’s.” Also appropriate…also quite sophisticated!

  2. Huh, I always though it showed way more sophistication to be knowledgeable enough in your alcohol that you are able to serve your friends drinks at a party.

    1. As did I! I would always take more pride in being able to make a real nice cocktail for my buddies than having to hire someone else to do it.

  3. Wow, I can’t believe this is even a thing. Completely impersonal and ridiculous. Besides, who wants a weirdo craigslist bartender who nobody knows standing in the corner? Especially if you’re in a 400 SF apartment.

    Great post.

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