What it's like to be a bartender in Antarctica

Illustration for article titled What its like to be a bartender in Antarctica

One night, Phil Broughton arrived in Antarctica's Club 90 South and found the only seat available was behind the bar. That's how he became the frozen continent's de facto bartender, mixing drinks for and lending an ear to Antarctic researchers.


The Guardian has a short but interesting account of Broughton's experience as a bartender in a decade ago Antarctica, where he was responsible for looking after the liquid nitrogen and helium coolants. Sometimes, his two jobs blended in the days before molecular mixology:

On special occasions, I combined the new role with my job and served what I called "cryogenic cocktails". The first one I made was for a boss who came to a party one evening and asked for a martini. I poured in some nitrogen, blew away the fog and scooped out all the frost-distilled water that was left floating in it, taking the proof of his cocktail up to about 130% abv. He downed it, disappeared and returned with a brace of Swedish researchers. "I want you to make them what you made me," he said.


But what's more interesting is his role as bartender-confessor:

It was pretty much a given that anyone who had applied for a job on the base was trying to escape something. In Alcoholics Anonymous parlance, it's known as "pulling a geographic". The hope is that by being somewhere else, your existing problems won't apply any more. Sometimes that's true, but I saw a lot of people at the end of the world with nowhere left to run.

It would be interesting to read more tales of Broughton's days behind the bar, perhaps it could inspire a story about a bartender at the Mountains of Madness.

Update: Broughton is currently a radiation specialist who makes laboratory-grade beer steins and his very own coffee, the Black Blood of the Earth. He also blogs on his site, Funranium Labs, and has written more about his adventures in Antarctica.


Photo credit: star5112.

Experience: I was a bartender in Antarctica [The Guardian via Neatorama]


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Selene Grace Silver

I hear that those cryogenic cocktails have led to destroyed esophaguses and stomach's sometimes.