Best practices in speed bartending

“Efficiency in Motion” is one of the most important traits of a successful professional bartender. We encourage a few best practices in order to create an infrastructure for speed. Typically, slow service in a bar is either the result of a slow bartender or a bad back bar setup, that puts a governor on even the fastest bartender. A truly efficient bar will have their bartenders working strategically with just the right back bar setup. It can be as easy as altering your glass storage or building a new speed well. Even though most bars posses unique logistical and spatial challenges, we’ve seen very small bars operate at impressive levels. So, it can be done!

In order to increase your efficiency, it is important that you consider how the back of your bar is organized. Imagine you’re an octopus. Everything you could possibly need should be within an arm’s reach, a 360 degree radius. When you setup your bar, you may consider placing the ice bins at center stage, a bottle cooler flanking the right side, and a 3-sink or dishwasher flanking the left side. Next, place the back bar bottle display directly behind the ice bin, including a double-tiered speed rail at knee level. The white wine should be placed inside the bottle cooler (on top of the compressor), and juices in racks over the ice. Your fruit, garnishes, and straws are setup in front of the well on the bar top. Finally, the server station should also be within arm’s reach - glassware stored on top of the bottle cooler as well as on shelves under and flanking the back of the bar. This setup will increase your efficiency. And as a result of serving more drinks, you will increase your take home. Thus, another benefit to having a bar set up for speed is that it requires fewer bartenders to maintain, which means fewer people to split your tips with.

 Another technique to consider is to have the back bar for display only and have two multiple tiered speed rails. One rail is used for your house brand spirits and the other for the most commonly used high end spirits. This will allow you save on time by having the bottles you need at your fingertips and not on the back of the bar. You might also consider stowing items that you know will need restocking at some point in the night. Place them near the speed well. This will prevent you from having to leave the bar when you’re already three deep in the weeds. It’s important to remember when storing items to make sure they are in accordance with your local health code (usual requirement is to be stored on a shelf or cabinet six inches from the floor).

In addition to creating an efficient infrastructure, there are other elements that will increase your speed. For example, practice holding several glasses in one hand, pouring multiple bottles simultaneously, and taking multiple orders. Anything you can do to reduce the number of steps you have to take not only makes you more efficient, but improves your customer’s experience. Please note: speed does not make up for poor personality or products. See Bar Ninja's online class on the Triangle of Customer Service of bartending for more information.