While some bartenders keep away from drinks, others have succumbed to the habit only to give it up.

They spend most of their time among tipplers and in surroundings that reek of alcohol. But believe it or not, bartenders are not hooked on drinks, some owing to the demands of their work and others because of the sheer fear of getting caught in the web of alcoholism.

Girish, manager with a hotel-cum-bar in the city, says that business interests motivate bar owners to recruit non-drinkers as a policy. A barman works in an unusual environment and should always be cautious in his approach to clients, he says.

“You have to be restrained in your conduct in a bar. There may be people who get drunk after having a couple of drinks and their behaviour can be unpredictable. So, the work of a bartender demands that he be sober all the time,” he says.

There are also bartenders who have never tasted liquor and those who kicked the habit after watching the mental and financial travails of alcohol addicts.

Sivan, who has worked in at least three bars in the city, says he and his family were apprehensive when he joined a bar on the outskirts of the city. “I never used to drink, and when I got the job in a bar I was a little apprehensive. Like my parents, I was worried whether I will start drinking. But 20 years into the profession, I still stay away from the habit,” he says.

But for Prakash, another bartender, working in a bar was the turning point in his life. “I used to drink quite often, but my acquaintance with regulars in the bar made me give it up. I saw with my eyes the plight of several persons, the deterioration in their health and finances. I also saw how occasional drinkers became regulars and fell to the level of alcohol abusers,” he says.