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Essential Bar Skills - Organizing Your Workstation

The two-step rule

As a bartender, the size of the space you’re working in will have a huge impact on your speed and efficiency. Most bars have adopted a “two-step” design: all your essential equipment should be close within reach, so you never have to move more than a step or two away from your station. This can shave crucial seconds off service time during busy shifts, increasing both your sales and customer happiness.

The following items should always be within easy reach:

Ideally, you should aim to have two workstations per register, each equipped with the required tools and ingredients. With everything within reach and always in its place, you'll find you have more time to add a little flair to your service and really wow your customers.

Back bar organization

Your back bar should both showcase your produce and be easily to get around, so you can find ingredients quickly. When setting up your back bar, consider the following:

Speed rack setup

A good speed rack allows you to serve frequently ordered drinks more quickly and efficiently, reducing wait times and increasing customer happiness. This makes your guests more likely to return for second and third rounds, generating more sales and more money in the tip jar.

The speed rack is normally located under the bar, in front of the ice bucket at roughly knee-height for easy access. It holds the most frequently used liquors such as Rum, Vodka and Gin. When using a double rack, the top shelf should be used for house pouring brands and the lower shelf for any popular higher-end brands you need to hand. By setting up your liquids in a particular order and memorizing their location, you gradually develop muscle memory, which improves speed and accuracy.

The industry standard for ordering your speed rack is: Rum, Vodka, Gin, Brandy, Whisk(e)y, Scotch, Bourbon and Tequila, but this can be adapted according to your customers’ preferences. For example, if you work in a cocktail bar, determine what your five most popular cocktails are and group together commonly used ingredients (e.g., Tequila beside Triple Sec for a Margarita; Whisk(e)y next to Sweet Vermouth for a Manhattan).

(*One standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol)