Online Bartending Lesson: How to Open and Close the Bar

Bartending isn’t just about making drinks and dishing them out to customers. There’s several other factors to take into account as well. Such as: customer service, taking inventory at the end of your shift, sales, and of course management of your workstation. If you were just a drink-manufacturing robot, I wouldn’t stress the need to have a great personality or talk about the use of body language. General Managers would simply hire based on hand speed and nothing more. Simply put, speed is just one attribute by which bartenders are measured. Turn yourself into a well-rounded, knowledgable and interesting candidate by studying all areas of mixology.

open and close the bar

Whether you’re planning on applying for a job as a bartender, or just need a refresher on the topic, I’ve created a list of check points you should be completing when you’re opening and closing the bar. Managers will rate you on your ability to perform these tasks. A quality bartender is able to open their bar, work their shift, and close their bar down with little or no direction from the manager. Remember that these are specific to a single bartender’s station. If you’re responsible for the entire bar at the end of the night, apply these lists to each sink, well, and speed rack behind the bar.

Opening the Bar Before Your Shift

1. Fill you ice bins up with an ice bucket.

2. Check all of your bartending tools. Make sure they’re clean and ready to use for your shift. These include: ice scoop, muddler, mixing tins, strainers, blender, and bar spoon.

3. Check the liquor levels of your bottles. Including spirits, beer, and wine. Restock and refill them if necessary.

4. Check all of your mixes including Sweet & Sour, Cream, Bloody Mary Mix, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice, and cans of Grapefruit Juice. Refill them if they can’t get you through your shift.

5. Check all of your speed gun buttons. They should all have a steady flow and be the proper color of the specified drink. For example if your coke button is coming out light brown or clear, then the syrup needs to be restocked.

6. Check that your garnish trays are filled and clean. These include your Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Olives, Cherries, and Sugar Cubes. Refill your trays if they aren’t going to get you through your shift.

7. Check your accessories including napkins, straws, stir sticks, coasters, and ashtrays if they apply to your bar. Replace any accessories you will need.

8. Sign-in to your Point of Sales station/computer.

Closing the Bar After Your Shift

1. Clean the bartop of all used glasses and garbage. Make sure to take any items a customer forgot to your designated lost & found in case the customer returns.

2. Fill an ice bucket with hot water. Pour the hot water into the ice bins to melt any left over ice.

3. You station or bar should have 3 sinks. Your first sink is filled with hot water and detergent. The second with water to rinse. The third with water and sanitizer.

4. Empty spill mats of liquid they collected, then wash, rinse and dry them.

5. Using a soaked cleaning rag and sanitizer, wipe down the bar.

6. Wash and rinse all used glassware. Return dry glasses back to their proper place.

7. Wash, rinse and dry all of your bar tools such as mixing tins, strainers, etc.

8. Clean the speed gun and replace it.

9. Wash, wipe down, and dry drain boards.

10. Drain and dry your sinks.

11. Clean the speed rack and wipe down all bottles in speed rack.

12. Check the liquor levels of all of bottles including liquors, beer, wine, etc. Restock them if necessary.

13. Replace every bottle to its proper spot, preferrably with labels facing the customer.

14. Store remaining garnishes in a container covered with saran wrap. Store them overnight in a fridge.

15. Straighten up any bar stools or chairs and wait for inspection by a manager or shift supervisor.

16. Count your tips and pay out the barbacks, bussers, etc.

That’s all there is to it. It looks like a lot, but when you get into the habit of closing down, it becomes quite routine and not as bad as it might sound.

Continue on with the Bartending Lessons

Bartending on a Cruise ShipHow to Use a Shaker


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