Setting Up Your Bar Is all about efficiency

Q: Will this section help me get a job?

A: Of course. Again, the more you know – the better off you’ll be. Organization and consistency is HUGE behind the bar. The way a bar is set up these days also has a lot to do with sanitation. Health inspectors DO NOT fool around. A clean, efficient, and organized bar is a no-brainer.

Q: Will any of this section be asked in an interview?

A: Quite possibly. Organization, efficiency, and doing your share of the daily side work tasks are all subjects on a Bar Manager’s mind.

Rookie Mistakes: Giving the impression that you’re reluctant to work as a team. Not understanding that a properly set-up bar has a lot to do with a bartender’s efficiency.

Setting Up/Tearing Down/Side Work

All of these bar procedures I am about to discuss are fairly standard across the industry, and I would recommend that you just read through them a couple of times. There is no need to memorize anything here.

I thought about suppling you with a detailed (and complicated, as it turned out), Excel Spreadsheet listing all of these set-up/tear-down details. Then I realized that it’s just overkill – your time could be better spent on other parts of the course. You’ll learn the proper procedures during your first few shifts, and it’s not a big deal – if you pay attention!

Cocktail Bar Electric Glass Scrubber

Simply take a look at the work involved. Get a general idea. Every bar is different! Some bars have a night cleaning crew that will do much of this work. Others will have a monstrosity of a cleaning schedule – and won’t accomplish half of what’s on it!

Side Note: Some bars (and bar managers) are complete nutcases when it comes to side work. They love their checklists and inspections. Don’t sweat it, as you’ll be shown all of these procedures during your first few shifts and training period.

Go with the flow. The checklists allow the bartenders to work in an efficient, tidy, and sanitary environment. It’s not all about hanging out with customers and having fun! After a few weeks, probably less, you won’t even need a checklist.

Set your bar up properly

Knowing your bar set-up is an important part of the bartender’s daily duties. Some bars may even require you to get a manager to sign-off. These tasks will become very easy for you, and it always depends on how much time the bar gives you to set up.

Important: Never, ever, ever, neglect your customers! Always drop what you’re doing and greet your customers immediately. And, save the really nasty cleaning jobs for before opening – or when tearing down the bar. There is no need to expose your customers to gunk in a drain or rancid cream in one of the coolers. A little common sense goes a long way here.

General List of a Bartenders Set-Up Procedures:

  • Don’t forget to sign in!
  • Get your cash bank – count it!
  • Unlock liquor cabinets and put out all liquor in appropriate places
  • Put out all bar caddies (Straws, cocktail picks, etc.)
  • Put out garnish trays
  • Margarita caddy ready to go
  • Place bar napkins and bar towels around the bar
  • Cut fruit
  • Set up 3-sink glass washing station
  • Make the juices
  • Make sure beer coolers are stocked
  • Check all cooler temperatures
  • Make sure bottles of wine/champagne are stocked and ready to go
  • Ice up!
  • Appropriate back-ups for all products
  • Wipe down/sanitize bar top
  • Put out bar menus
  • Get daily specials (food and liquor) from kitchen/manager
  • And, finally, go find the manager to unlock the front door (he’s late, as usual!)

Bartenders Closing Procedures

Efficient bartenders will start checking off some of the below tasks in the hour before closing. It all depends upon how busy it is.

Liquor and Soda Gun System
  • Burn the ice from all ice bins. Sanitize it.
  • Discard any nasty-looking fruit and garnishes
  • Marry fruit juices from each bartender station (Sanitation and house policies will dictate this)
  • Lock up the liquor & beer coolers
  • Clean all speed rails
  • Clean bartender station
  • Clean bar top
  • Stock beer coolers
  • Remove all soda/liquor/beer nozzles. Soak
  • Clean cash register/POS system
  • Take all bar tools, mats, and equipment to kitchen and wash
  • You may be responsible for pulling floor mats and taking to the back dock
  • Clean and sanitize 3-sink glass washing area
  • You may need to pull all rubber matting beneath glassware and soak
  • When you count out your cash register is up to the Bar Manager – and House Policy

Bartender’s Side Work

I’m really not going to go into side work here. Many cleaning procedures labeled as “side work” are done “as you go.” Keeping a tidy and sanitary bar is very important, so keep this in mind. We’ll get into all that stuff in later lessons.

Most bars will have one or two additional tasks, for every shift, which need to be completed. It all depends on how strict and/or organized the Bar Manager is.

As for all of this side work – don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to complete every task perfectly. Many of these cleaning procedures are done during the shift. Your customer is your first priority!

If you’re following along in the Basic Bartending Course:

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