US congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez back behind the bar in minimum wage push

US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shakes a margarita behind the bar at the Queensboro Restaurant, May 31, 2019. (AFP/Getty pic)

NEW YORK: American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez returned to her restaurant roots on Friday, donning an apron and serving drinks in Manhattan in a push to raise the country’s minimum wage.

The 29-year-old New Yorker and rising political star, who describes herself as a socialist, worked as a bartender and waitress in a restaurant in her hometown before entering Congress last year.

“I was nervous that I may have lost my touch – still got it! That muscle memory doesn’t quit,” she wrote on Twitter after an hour taking orders and swinging a cocktail shaker at a restaurant in her Queens constituency.

Ocasio-Cortez was promoting of the “One Fair Wage” campaign, which is calling for a raise to the federal hourly minimum wage to US$15 for service workers.

“The federal tipped minimum wage is US$2.13 an hour. That is unacceptable. Any job that pays US$2.13 an hour is not a job. It’s indentured servitude,” she said behind the bar.

“All labour has dignity, and the way that we give labour dignity is by paying people the respect and value that they are worth.”

Bronx-born Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a favourite target of Donald Trump supporters, owes part of her aura to her magnetic social media presence and her bold, progressive political platform.

She told the Guardian last year that prior to entering politics she worked 18-hour shifts as a waitress and bartender to help save her mother’s home from foreclosure.

From the start, Ocasio-Cortez traded heavily on her non-privileged background in her quest to defeat a 10-term, Democratic Party grandee in her first political race in a New York primary last June.

Overnight, she went from total unknown to the toast of coastal America, profiled in Vogue, a guest on chat shows and jetting around the country lending her rock-star status to other insurgent candidates.