13 Crucial Tools Every Successful Bartender Must Have!
By: Jeremy B. Sherk
"A man is only as good as his tools" is a phrase I'm sure you've heard before and it applies to bartending as much as anything else.
You'll only ever be as good as your tools, so make sure you're not without them. The quality of your tools can make or break your experience behind the bar so it's important you take this lesson seriously.
There are countless bartending tools out there. Will you use them all? No. But there are certain tools that every bartender must have. In this first lesson, we'll be taking a look at those 'must-have' tools so pay close attention.
Now whether you're working in a low or high volume bar, a bottle opener is not only crucial to your speed, but also your hands!
Imagine opening every bottle of beer ordered with your bare hands... you wouldn't last the night without seriously doing damage to your palms.
There are many different types of bottle openers out there on the market... everything from a simple 'key-chain opener' all the way to a 'butterfly bottle opener', you know, like a butterfly knife? Pretty cool.
Find out what works for you. I've used the same stainless steel 'speed opener' for years now, it does the job (with style) everytime so I've had no reason to switch.
The best, most versatile wine opener is known as the 'waiter's wine opener'. It'll always do the job, even on the most difficult and the most stubborn corks. Compare this to many others out there that often break the cork or have you struggling in front of the customer to get the damn thing open.
A waiter's wine opener includes a corkscrew (worm), a sharp blade to cut the seal of the wine and also a bottle opener device if you're desperate for one.
I recommend a 'two-level' lever on your opener as well, that's what I personally use. Mine has never failed me in opening a bottle of wine.
This is the stainless steel thingy you see bartenders pour ingredients into for a martini or shooter and shake vigorously. This is a must-have for all bartenders.
A good rule of thumb for cocktails is, the colder it is, the better it tastes. Why else would bartenders concoct a drink by pouring pre-chilled ingredients into a shaker with ice, shaking like crazy and then serving it in a chilled glass? Because you want every part of the process to be 'chilling' to prevent any 'warming' of the cocktail.
There are two types of shakers out there:
1) Standard Shaker
This is a three-piece stainless steel shaker that has the strainer built into it. I find the Standard Shaker is not as common among professional, working bartenders.
It consists of the shaker tin, lid with strainer and cap. Perhaps it's more complicated design with smaller parts discourages working bartenders from using this more often. But it will do the job just as well as the...
2) Boston Shaker
From my experience, the Boston Shaker is actually more standard among professional bartenders. This one is simply a shaker tin with a separate mixing glass that's slightly smaller in size. It's a two-piece device that you simply seal together to shake the cocktail.
The tendency is seal it as tight as you can and proceed to shake, although this is not necessary as you can often seal it too tight, and then not be able to open it when you're done shaking and ready to pour the concoction.
If you're ever in this situation, use the edge of the bar and clip the overlapping metal lip (which will always be on the outside, as the glass is always smaller and fits inside) against the edge of the bar. You can also 'twist' them apart, that will often break the seal too.
But avoid all that by fitting them together nice and snug instead of as tight as you can.
You can purchase shaker sets in all types of different sizes and styles, but they pretty much fall into one of the two types listed above.
Again, you'll find many different types of strainers on the market. But the only kind I've ever used and would want to use is the Hawthorn Strainer.
You know, it's that real funny looking stainless steel thing with the handle and the spring coil. The purpose behind the spring coil on the strainer is so you can fit it into all types of different shaped glasses. So it's a very versatile tool.
I should mention that when using a shaker I often do not use a strainer. I use the Boston Shaker and simply crack a tiny opening in the seal between the two and pour out the concoction 'cracked egg' style.
If you're more of a visual learner like me, Tom Cruise does this when pouring his 'Turquoise Blue' Martini for Gina Gershon in the two floor NYC nightclub in the movie Cocktail.
Not every bar uses coasters. But it's a good thing to have. They'll prevent a lot of unnecessary wet spots or 'rings' on the bar from moisture off the side of the glass.
I've worked in slower, classier places where using them is mandatory. I've also worked in higher volume nightclubs where you don't use coasters because you're wiping the bar down every five minutes anyway, so why bother? Which leads me to...
Bar Towel (Rag)
A fresh, clean set of bar towels is something every bartender needs. In high volume places, the bar is constantly needing a wipe down from spilt drinks, drink rings, sticky shooter glasses, etc.
I like to have a minimum of four, strategically placed wet bar towels in my working area at all times.
One thing I teach you in Bartending Secrets Exposed is to have everything systemized. You want things as seemingly insignificant as location of your bar rag to be the same every night. You don't want to think about where it is everytime you need it, you want it to be second nature, you want to be able to grab it without even looking!
The party can often get sloppy so you must have your bar rags close at hand.
Forcefully cutting through and scooping your ice with an actual glass is a very stupid thing to do. Yet I see bartenders do it all the time. I don't even recommend you 'gently and carefully' scoop the ice with the glass. There's just too much margin for error.
If you chip the glass, and you know it, you're spending the next ten minutes emptying and refilling your ice well. If you don't know it, and you happen to serve a customer a drink garnished with glass shavings you could be in some serious trouble.
Using a metal ice scoop is mandatory as a bartender. It really doesn't take more time to scoop ice with a separate scoop. You can also do some fancy tricks once you get good too.
If you work in a bar that allows free pouring, you won't be needing this handy tool. But in most regions of North America free pouring is illegal and you're required to use some sort of measuring device, whether it's an automatic or manual device all depends on where you work.
While I'm not a believer in the automatic devices you see nowadays, using a shot glass or jigger (manual device) to measure the amount of alcohol you pour into each drink is what I've always done as a bartender.
For those of you who work at places with extremely tight inventory control. I offer you an amazing 'overpour fake' technique in Bartending Secrets Exposed to keep the 'tip friendly' relationship with your customers while keeping your integrity with the boss. Click here to get it now!
Skewers, plastic swords picks, arrow picks... or whatever you want to call them... are for those exclusive garnishes like olives and cherries. They really add to the presentation of a drink and are a must-have for those customers you want to really impress.
Whether it's giving the customer three olives with their martini or an orange slice and a cherry with one of my seductive martinis, I always have a supply of garnish picks close at hand.
Whether you free pour or not, a bar that deals with any type of volume and has any interest in inventory control should have these on all of the high moving liquor bottles. There are many different styles of pour spouts out there:
-glow in the dark
-slow pour (3 seconds per ounce)
All have some associated benefit or gimmick. But I like things simple so I use the metal 'slow pour' spouts on all my liqueurs and the metal 'fast pour' spouts on all my well liquor which I'm using a shot glass for anyway. Why wait three seconds when you're measuring with a glass already?
Time truly is money in this industry.
Now at this point you might be thinking, "Jeremy, you're talking about the kind of tools and supplies the bar should be supplying, you're making it sound like I have a choice on what kind of pour spouts I use."
Realize I don't want you to go out and start buying pour spouts and garnish picks. Those expenses should be left to the bar you're working for. But remember that YOU'RE the one working the bar, not the manager. If the bar where you work has crappy pour spouts and doesn't even use garnish picks, it's up to you to suggest it!
I believe it's your choice. After all, you're the one using it, right? Managers will always be open to suggestions if it will improve your speed and performance, thus, increase sales.
This is obvious, but you should always have straws close at hand. The bigger or more you give the customer, the better. You control the speed at which your customers drink by how many straws you give them. Make 'em drink fast so you increase your sales (which equals more tips).
Lighter/Matches & Pens
Ask any bartender out there and they'll agree that besides 'a drink', you'll be asked for 'a light' or a pen more than anything else.
So what's the best thing you can do??? Have them close at hand!
Have a ton of pens to lend, because you may not always get them back and you always want to have enough. Also, always have a load of matchbooks to give to customers in need.
I also recommend you have a sleek butane lighter of your own for customers needing a light right at your bar and also when flaming drinks are necessary.
Last, but certainly not least is to have your own tip jar.
While I go into extreme detail in Bartending Secrets Exposed on the true art and science of the tip jar, what I'll tell you here is that having one is a must! You're losing tips without one!
Have your own, preferably a wine carafe. The tapered neck of a wine carafe means once a tip is in the jar, it's in. You won't have any hands dipping in to swipe your hard earned tips, which can often happen in a busy nightclub.
Now you're a little more familiar with the tools you need to be an excellent bartender. Remember, you can always get all this information and tons more by getting started with the internetï¿½s ultimate bartending success system, Bartending Secrets Exposed, 'How To Double Your Tips and Land Your Dream Job, 100% Guaranteed!'... at http://www.MakeMoneyBartending.com
To Your Success,
About the author:
"At Last - This Expert Professional Bartender Will Take You By The Hand And Show You Step-By-Step Exactly How To Land Your Dream Job and Maximize Your Tips!"
Jeremy Sherk, an expert world-class bartender, who's been serving drinks before he could legally drink himself, has helped thousands of bartenders land their dream job and skyrocket their tips.
Are you sick and tired of pounding the pavement and getting no results?
Rather than hitting your head against a brick wall trying desperately to succeed on your own... why not let a world-class bartender show you exactly, step-by-step how to make it in this brutally competitive industry?