Amanda MacMullin Talks Seeking New Challenges and Becoming a ‘Grizzled Old Bartender’

The classic tale of a menial restaurant job that snowballs into a full blown career in hospitality – Amanda Macmullin knows this story well. In the beginning, she was just slinging pints to pay the bills, and playing rugby on the weekends. Now, she’s twisting and shaking cocktails behind the bar of the iconic Vancouver haunt, The Diamond.

What intrigues me most about Amanda isn’t how she got involved in the industry, but rather why she persists and what that says about it as a whole…What is it about the hustle that grabs our attention so firmly and manages to evolve with our interests as we progress into an inevitable career? In an effort to get to the bottom of this, Amanda and I sat down recently to catch up, swap ‘war stories’ and discuss the minutiae of this crazy life.

Would a younger you have guessed that you’d end up being a career bartender? Did you have any other plans?

Absolutely not. I did well in high school and went on to complete four years of university at Dalhousie. I started in psychology, switched to cultural anthropology, and then realized I didn’t want a career in academia. That’s when I decided to move to Vancouver.

Tell us how you got started in this line of work.

I started out serving as a means to pay for university. My first job was at a golf course in Nova Scotia, that led to a job at a busy pub in downtown Halifax.

How have your motivations shifted since then?

I’m always looking for the next challenge. Once I feel like I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do, I move on to the next goal. I’ve worked my way up into management, pivoted from beer to cocktails, and now I’m just interested in learning and exchanging knowledge.

Have you ever tried doing anything else? How did that go?

I had to know what it was like working in an office. During my six month hiatus from hospo, I took an accounting job at a car dealership. It would seem I’m not cut out for the office life.

Was there a defining moment when you decided that this was no longer ‘just a job’? Or was it more of a slow realization?

Leaving hospitality made me realize just how much I enjoyed it. Up until the pandemic, I always had some kind of exit strategy from bartending. When I decided to come back, I wanted to put my energy into continued education and working somewhere with people who are also passionate about our craft.

What is it about the hospitality industry that’s managed to develop and maintain your interest, even after all this time?

It’s so many things. It’s hectic and unpredictable. It’s physically demanding. You’re forever learning. It’s a creative outlet as well. It checks a lot of boxes for me.

Do you think there’s sustainability in your chosen profession?

I’m afraid not. I imagine my body will tell me when its time to move on.

What happens after you decide to move on?

I don’t know what my next move is – perhaps a memoir detailing the cocktails and glory days of a grizzled, old bartender.

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