The secret diary of a Bad Bartender - hospo, artist and trailblazer Blue Valentine tells all

With a twisted smile at the rough ride of bar work, Bad Bartender is an act of solidarity in one of the hardest industries in the world. Creator-founder Blue Valentine talks about her time behind the bar and the inspiration she’s drawn from it.

Image courtesy of Bad Bartender

Sometimes, all you want at work is a bit of honesty, right? And it’s never truer than in the hospitality industry. It’s not all laughs, parties and hanging with the cool kids; it’s bloody hard work.

You’re dealing with crazy hours, patrons being gross and tough, stressful situations - all while everyone around you is having a great time I may hasten to add.

It’s almost too much to cope with.

But then along comes someone like Blue Valentine, whose frankness, perspective and irreverence lift the curtain for us all to have a peep at just how tough hospo life can be.

It also lets everyone in the industry know they’re not alone when they’ve had a bad night, and allows them to look it in the eye and laugh.

Blue’s designs and clothing range have taken the Aussie bar scene by storm, telling it just how it is with dark humour and ridiculously cool artwork.

We caught up with Blue - whose usual beat is Lefty’s Music Hall in Brisbane - to find out where her magic comes from.

Our awesome Nip of Courage ‘Drink Aussie Spirits’ hoodies have a commissioned artwork by Blue on the back, with a couple of angels taking their share. Get your hoodie here.

Blue Valentine - creator of Bad Bartender

1. What do you love about being a bartender?

I love the fast paced environment, being on my feet and running around a venue; the live music, the teamwork, the knockoffs.

2. Which came first - your artwork or bartending? Why did you start them?

My parents are both creatives so I’ve been brought up in a pretty artsy environment since I was a kid.

Drawing itself I only started a couple of years ago through designing my tattoos, which merged into designing t-shirts during covid for fun.

Bartending I started when I was 16; it was a government deal where if you worked, you could take a day off school, so I jumped at that opportunity as I hated school.

3. Do you have a favourite cocktail to start the night - or one you love making?

I’m going through an unhealthy obsession with penicillins. I’m just a sour bitch.