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operating a simple bar is simple

Simple Bartending Manual

July 11, 2012 Rozanne Woodward 0 Comments

operating a simple bar is simple


Customer Service

Customer Service comes first in the bar. Your patrons should be your number one priority. Particular attention must be paid to all patrons who are attending the Bar. As a bartender, your first priority is to make sure all customers have been helped, or feel served especially. Even if you are in the middle of doing something you should stop and help any customers standing at the bar. A polite and kind attitude is essential. Greet your customer with a smile. Ask him/her what they’d like to drink. Proceed to get them that drink.


The Art of Mixing a Drink

There are several varieties of beer, wine and liquor in abar. It’s a must that you become familiar with what you will be serving the night you work.


All beers should be stocked according to price. On the top shelf of each cooler is the standard beer to be served most. On middle shelves keep the Premium domestics and all the Imports are kept on the bottom. The standard, premium, and imports are different in price. On occasion, your bar will stock specialty beers. You will know the price of those depending on the shelf which they will be stocked.

**Bottles of beer are not to be stored on their sides as the metal in the cap ruins the taste of the beer**


Standard beers include your common domestic beer and you should have one non-alcohol beer…


Your premium beers are stocked on the middle shelf. They are not as common as the standard beer but they are all domestic. On occasion a specialty or seasonal beer will be stocked as premium.


An import beer is the most expensive. They are all stocked on the bottom row of the cooler.


A good bar stocks a standard as their tap beer, also known as draught beer. Once a keg is tapped, the beer begins to go old and is no longer good after a certain period of time. For special events such as weddings, purchase a keg, also known as a barrel.

Serving a Beer

All beer will be poured into a 16 ounce plastic cup, or a pint glass when using glassware. The bottles will be kept out of grabbing reach behind the bar, collected, and recycled at the end of the night. Bottle caps should be removed with a bottle-cap opener.



Select a signature brand of wine that you know goes over well with the most people. Ideally four kinds are served: Two whites and two reds. Keep a case of very special and more expensive wines in reserve for when the big shots start feeling generous. The types of wines are:

White Zinfandel

White Zinfandel is a rosy colored white wine, also commonly known as a blush wine. It’s the sweetest wine a Bar carries and is commonly drank with dessert. This wine is chilled and should be kept in the cooler.


Chardonnay is a white wine. It’s sweeter than the reds but more dry than the White Zinfandel. This wine is chilled and commonly found in the cooler.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is pronounced CAB-ber-nay SO-vin-yone. It’s one of two red wines the Bar stocks. It’s the driest wine and is stored in the cabinet.


Merlot is pronounced MER-low. It’s a very common red wine. It’s one of the driest wines. This wine is also stored in the cabinet.

Serving wine

Wine is typically served in 5 ounce portions. There is special glassware for a white wine and a red wine. When using plastic there is only one glass.

Wine should not be filled to the top of the glass. A wine connoisseur will typically swirl his/her wine in its glass, and sniff it. This is the reason why there is room left at the top of the glass.

All chilled wines, even though stored in a cooler, should not be served at that temperature. They should be set out and given time to warm up slightly before serving.

Ideally, wine should be stored on its side.



Stock several different kinds of liquor such asas bourbons, gins, vodkas, rums, tequilas, brandy, and liqueurs. They are also classified according the name brand.


Rail is also referred to as "house brand". It is kept in the rail attached to the bar. Pick a single colour topper to identify them easily, we suggest green toppers. The rail includes your most common liquors…vodka, gin, rum, brandy, and bourbon (also known as whiskey). Typically when people order a rail they will order it as “rum and coke” or a “whiskey sour.”


The call liquors are name brand liquors that are very popular. Some of these include Bacardi, Tangueray, and Windsor. Set these liquors with red toppers. They will typically be ordered as “Bacardi coke” or a “Seven and Seven” (Seagrams Seven and 7Up).


Premium liquors are the highest end liquor we carry. This includes the alcohols such as Dewars, Jameson, and Hennessey. Customers will also ask for these by name. These liquors look nice with blue toppers and are the most expensive.

Popular drinks

Some of the most popular drinks that will be ordered include an Old Fashion, Manhattan, Gimlet, and Martini. If you are not uncomfortable making these, practise and learn.

Serving drinks

There is a selection of barware to accommodate each type of drink. Make sure you are using the proper glassware when serving. You will read more on this later below.

Most bottle toppers are designed to pour exactly one shot. Otherwise, count 1-2-3-4 quickly to get roughly one shot. The most popular drink will require one shot of liquor, with the remainder being soda. Each shot equals about 1.25 ounces.

When a person orders their drink, you would take the correct glass, fill it with ice, next put in the liquor, and fill with the remainder of requested mixture.



Good Bars stock champagne although it’s not a very commonly ordered drink during regular occassions. Many times it’ll be used in a specialty for the night. More often it is used during specially-booked events, such as weddings.



The Bar must stock Bottled water, big for mixers, small for single servings. When serving bottled water the bartender must be sure to unscrew the lid of the bottle.



The garnishments are the extra little item that are added to dress up a drink. They include olives, mushrooms, cherries, lemons, and limes. Not every drink gets garnish.

“Rules of thumb” when garnishing drinks: Vodka gets limes, Tequila gets limes, Gin gets lemons, Manhattans get cherrie,s Martinis get olives or mushrooms ,Old Fashions get cherries or olives, Kiddie Cocktails get cherries


Barware Plastic


Red Wine

Fill until about 2cm to 3cm from the top

  bar glass guide

White Wine

Fill until about 3cm from the top


Manhattan tumbler

Also known as a short rocks…u sed for shots, manhattan, gimlets


Rocks Glass

Used for mixed drinks with ice


Beer Glass

Pour beer from bottle/tap into pint glasses. Beer bottles are kept out of sight and recycled at the end of the night.

  bartending glasses

Soda Stem

A common, stemmed glass


Hot Drinks

A fancy-handled glassware



The snifter is used for congac and brandy



The flutes are only used for champagne

  bar glasses


Martini glasses are used for Martinis



The Up glass is a much larger version of the martini. It is used for cosmopolitans.

  Up Martini glass

Other bar supplies

Each side of the bar contains a caddy with a selection of supplies that may be needed or mixing drinks. In the caddy you will find soda straws, stir straws, wine opener, napkins, and picks for garnish. This should be located in a handy place for easy access. It will be accessed frequently during your time behind the bar. It should never sit on the bar for patrons to utilize.



Overall the the Bar should look presentable and inviting. A back ledge where the liquor will be stacked, risers should be utilized when stacking the bottles if at all possible. The premiums should sit on the top shelf…with calls scattered accordingly. The rails should bekept out of the view of patrons.

The bar portion should have a decorative touch…for example candles. And napkins should be easily accessible for customers. Each tip glass should be placed directly underneath a light. Something should be placed in the center of the bar to divide the two. This can either be a topiary, candle, plant, or the snacks.

The bar should look clean at all times. Continuous cleaning should occur during your shift.

If you encounter a lull in service, bartenders should hit the floor and collect any glasses and wipe any tables that need wiping.


Serving times:

Bars traditionally open one hour before an event. Other times are agreed upon with the client, but keep in mind manpower costs can be higher. It’s better to overestimate and then have a pleasantly suprised client expecting to be gouged. This insures repeat business and word of mouth recommendations, so consider honesty an investment in your success.


Setting up/Tearing down

Bartenders should be at the bar before it opens to help set up. On some occasions, they may be asked to stay until everything is cleaned up. You will find, in the back of this manual, a list of opening duties and closing duties.


One practice that’s been implemented in a Bar is counting cups. During big events, all plastic cups are counted and kept track of to compare with the final inventory. At the end of the evening, the cups are counted again to get a rough idea of the number sold. It’s a good practice to get into because some events will offer free soda or keg beer. On those occasions… cups need to be counted for the purpose of charging the client. Glassware is not counted.

Making Coffee

Coffee makers are popular, and if the event will have coffee served, it should be brewed at least a half hour before the bar opens.


The LOOK of the Bar

In this section I will give you a quick idea of how the Bar looks to you…and to the customer.

Looking from the outside in

When customers see the Bar, it should look very presentable and inviting. Standing and looking towards the Bar the customer should see lights indicating a Bar. When the sign is on… this shows that the Bar is open and ready to serve, let the party begin!

On the bar patrons should find neatly stacked rows of napkins, interfaced with tealights and tips jars. On occasion, signs will be displayed on easels at the edges of the bar. Snacks should be place in the center for easy access to patrons on either side of the bar.

Liquor should be stacked on the risers in front of the mirrors if possible. No food or drinks being used by the volunteers should sit on the back ledge. All of those items are to be kept out of patron’s view. The counter space should also look clean and clear of trash and debris.

Standing in the Bar

When looking towards the Bar, a till/register should be nearest the center of the counter, with counter space on each side. Liquor should be stacked on the risers and above the register it is traditional in Asia to but some plant or a lucky bamboo in the center as the focal point.

Easy-access coolers are located just under the tills. The coolers are stocked with all chilled items.

Next to the coolers you should store your open bottles of liquor, ideally the only cabinet you need to access in order to set up your bar. In other words… all open bottles will be kept in this cabinet. This Barman Box can be useful if you do regular bartending gigs, so handles are helpful, or wheels. Each of the cabinets has a list of the liquors posted on the inside door.

Keep backstock items in there factory boxes. These items should only need to be accessed when restocking a liquor or red wine. A list is also maintained for these stocks… strictly for ordering and inventory purposes.

In the best of feng shui practises, the very center of the southernmost side of the Bar should contain a garbage can. If you don’t need to face an entry way, have the staff facing to the East… take advantage of the rising earth energies. Towards the center as well, keep you small ice container, counter space, and sinks.

Also build up a portable caddy to use during your time in the Bar. Odds and ends are kept here, plastic cups, straws, cutting boards, shakers, etc.


Opening checklist

Ask: Glass or plastic? What beverages are being served? Is and what food is being served?

_____ Stock Glasses Plastic—count Glassware – should be stocked already

_____ Unlock cabinets and coolers

_____ Stock alcohol on countertop

_____ Put rums together, bourbons together and whites with white spirits …and so on

_____ Stock wines, open back-up bottles

_____ Fill ice bins

_____ Attach rail – Suggestions to go in rail:

_____ Well alcohol (Fleischmanns, etc), vermouths, roses lime

_____ Stock straws, napkins

_____ Turn on pop machines

_____ Stock garnishes (cherries, limes, lemons, olives, mushrooms)

_____ Turn on Bar sign

_____ Put money in registers

_____ Set out napkins on bar

_____ Light candles

_____ Arrange tables in attractive setting

_____ If there are special drinks: makes signs, and assign drinks a register code

_____ Get bus tubs for empty bottles

_____ Set up Coffee bar

_____ Set out nuts/cookies/snacks

_____ Set up signs


Closing Checklist

_____ Count glass bottles, record numbers

_____ Put alcohols away

_____ Tear down rail

_____ Count remainder of plastic glasses

_____ Wash any glass glasses

_____ Turn off soda machines, wash down trays

_____ Put garnishes back in the cooler

_____ Put wines away

_____ Wash out bus tubs

_____ Clean countertops/sinks

_____ Blow out candles

_____ Put napkins away

_____ Gather dirty linens, throw in bag/bin

_____ X the registers

_____ Z the registers

_____ Count money

_____ Put money away securely

_____ Lock cabinets and coolers

_____ Turn off lights/Bar sign

_____ Soak/wash gunsoak/wash soda machine tabs

_____ Tear down coffee

_____ Rinse coffee pot

_____ Break down coffee bar


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