When you work around alcohol day-in and day-out, overindulgence can become a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re fermenting, distilling, selling, or serving, the temptation to tipple is constant. But what if you need to take a break?
The struggle to stay sober, whether permanently or temporarily, can be especially daunting when everyone wants to buy one for the bartender. How do you decline gracefully?
In 2018, bartender Mark Goodwin founded The Pin Project as a way to convey that he wasn’t drinking. By wearing a small lapel pin during his shift, he was able to indicate to his customers and co-workers that he was abstaining from alcohol—and start a conversation about why a server might choose sobriety. From the website: “This project exists because we ourselves have struggled with our relationship with alcohol at various points throughout our careers in the liquor industry. We want to let our friends in this industry know it is okay and completely normal to sometimes struggle with the tough job of balancing health and ‘having a good time’ in situations that don’t always encourage us to say ‘No.’”
Because the pin can be taken off, it lets a server decide on a shift-by-shift basis whether or not to wear it, because there are many reasons to choose abstinence (from prescription drug interactions to after-work commitments to issues with substance abuse). Again from the website: “Sobriety, be it momentarily, periodically, or even aspiringly permanent, is always a place of constant assessment and decision; it’s likely even with the pin on their person that well-intentioned folks will still ask you to drink with them. We hope the pin can be a tool to help with those moment-to-moment decisions that add up to being the person you want to be in this industry and beyond.”
The Pin Project was first introduced at Tales of the Cocktail in 2018 (it was a TOC grant recipient that year) then rolled out nationally starting in San Francisco last year. Proceeds from pin sales ($15 on the website) benefit The Pin Foundation, a nonprofit “focused on improving the wellness, health and, most important, love and understanding in regard to sobriety in the working life.”