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What makes an excellent bar? We caught up with Diageo Bar Academy trainer Rob Poulter to find out his top tips for creating the best experience for both bar staff and customers.

The Perfect Bar

The perfect bar doesn’t actually exist. If it did we’d all be working and drinking in identical bars. However, excellent bars do exist and they achieve excellence through the pursuit of perfection in all aspects of their business.

The pursuit of excellence

So where do you start the pursuit of excellence for your bar? A useful process is to break your bar down into touch points, following an imaginary guest journey through the venue, listing every element that might influence their experience, e.g., the entrance, the seating, the layout, the music, the menu—every element should be considered.

Once you’ve listed all your venue touchpoints, think about how you can ensure they’re all excellent and making a positive contribution to the guest's experience and perception of your venue.

Love Your Bar

Possibly the most important touchpoint is the bar itself, the place where the magic happens, where guests and staff come together and interact, the place where great conversations are held and great drinks are served. As with the other touch points in a venue, the bar has to serve the needs of both the guests and the staff.

Workstation Setup

The best Setup for a bar should reflect the most popular drinks a venue serves. Every bottle, ingredient and piece of equipment should be within easy reach of the bartender’s workstation to minimize any delays during drink preparation, which can reduce revenue potential and have a negative impact on the guest experience and the staff. Just as there’s no perfect bar, there’s no perfect workstation—your station Setup should evolve with the drinks you serve and constantly be reassessed to ensure its optimized to allow all bartenders to work to their full potential and give a great guest experience.

Here are some tips for you to consider when setting up your workstation:

Back Bar Merchandising

From the guest perspective, the bar isn’t just an order point, it has many different roles and is also a shop window where a bar’s range of spirits is displayed and an extension of the menu where specials can be displayed. Here are some tips:

Love Your Customer

As a member of the bar staff, you have the biggest impact of all on the guest’s experience and perception of your bar. Everything else in the venue could be perfect, but if you don’t deliver great service that’s the thing your guest is most likely to remember and most likely to share.

To make sure that’s never the case, remember these five key points of service:

Table Service

Not all service happens at the bar and serving at tables allows you to get a feel for what customers want and tap into other opportunities.

Here are 3 top tips for table service:

1. Arrange your tray—Make it easy to carry and serve from. You will look more professional and customers will appreciate it.

2. Fill not spill—No one likes spilled drinks. Allow yourself a little room in each glass and between the glasses on your tray.

3. Pour/Make drinks at tables whenever possible—This adds a little more theater to the customer experience.

Good luck in creating the perfect experience! I sincerely hope you manage to achieve excellence on your journey as there can be few more rewarding experiences than working, or drinking, in a truly excellent bar.