There are many options for setting up a bar station, from a chef’s mise-en-place to detailed maps. This will increase efficiency and cleanliness. Bars that serve high volumes of customers need to use different techniques and tricks than those that provide more personalized service. However, some common principles can be applied across all bars. These are four ways to organize your bar station better.
Create a map
Allegra Vera Warsager is a bartender at Mr. Purple in New York City. “There are more than 20 cocktails on the menu throughout the year, so the speed rack contains spirits that match the season. Less-used spirits go in smaller cheater bottles.
Tony Staunton, Harrigan’s Chicago, also uses a diagram to help newer employees. He says, “There is a schematic so that all of the items stay in place.” This makes it easier to train muscle memory and speeds up young bartenders.
Juan Castillo is the head bartender at Gospel NYC. He suggests creating sections and then “keeping it all in alphabetical order, or grouping by recipe or volume of demand.”
Although not everyone can build a bar from scratch, there are some ways to make it more efficient and keep bartenders less sore at the end of the shift.
Josh Lindley, a Toronto bartender and co-founder of Bartender Atlas, says that Chantecler has limited space, so it is important to keep things in the right places. “We don’t have a traditional rail. Our entire bar, except the ice well, is behind us. It is important to ensure everything is perfectly lined up. Syrups come in labeled squeeze containers, juices in glass bottles with pour-outs, and garnishes receive uniform bowls. He says that all tools should be neatly organized on a cutting board or shaker tins. “You can pivot on either foot and bartend simultaneously.”
Please keep it simple
Sother Teague, the New York City program manager at Amor y Amargo, believes in a simple setup. “The best thing I have learned over the years is to reduce the number of items behind the bar. He says that reducing clutter leads to a more efficient, streamlined mindset and focused mentality. Overcomplicating equipment setup is the biggest problem I have seen over the years. This, combined with a complex program containing many techniques, can lead to a slowing down of service speed and a decrease in guest satisfaction.
Kelley Fitzsimmons is the Odd Birds’ lead bartender in St. Augustine. She uses a similar approach. “I am a creature of habit. He says that he has used a similar setup for the past 10 years of his 23-year career. Tins are nested on the left using spoons, muddlers, and tweezers. Mixing glasses, bitters, and filters are on the right. This is my setup, whether my home base or guest shifts.
Each station should be complete
Marlowe Johnson, beverage director at Detroit’s Flowers of Vietnam, says that a bar station setup should flow as a cook would. Everything should be centralized around the workspace and no more than one pivot away. We like to keep syrups, bottles and garnishes out of guest spaces to allow guest interaction. A station setup is essential to ensure a flow to your work behind the bar. Both hands should work in tandem or independently. I keep both my left-hand and right-hand tools on their respective sides to avoid cross-contamination. As a bartender service, I was very strict in my training. Each station has its own set of tools, garnishes and syrups. There is no sharing. Each station must be self-sufficient.”
Johnson admits that there is always room to fail, but he also acknowledges the importance of planning and skill. Johnson says, “I like to use multiple tools at once.” Johnson says that this allows me to bang out drinks, but I am less adept at keeping up with the food. It’s not easy to offer full service at a bar. It isn’t easy to navigate the space between you and your guest. This requires constant rearranging and accommodating.