Top 10 Things to Do During a Slow Bar Shift

If you’re busy every shift behind the bar, stay where you are and don’t change jobs. For most bartenders, there are going to be shifts when you can feel yourself aging. Sometimes a shift just starts slow and tapers off from there. Whatever the reason, you can still contribute to the general welfare of the business on slow nights.

Here’s my top 10 list of things to do behind a bar when you just can’t lean for one more minute:

1) Take an audit of the bar drawer. Almost every bar has at least one drawer that’s become the repository for extraneous stuff. Take a few minutes and discard what is obviously clutter or junk, and check if the drawer is stocked with such essentials as bandages, aspirin, hand sanitizer and lotion.

2) Wipe down backbar bottles. Dusty bottles on the backbar send your guests the wrong message about the worthiness of what’s inside of the bottle. And while you’re cleaning, read the labels. Often there’s a wealth of information about the brand, and it’s a good way to bone up on your product knowledge.

3) Clean the beverage gun. The post-mix dispenser is the first thing that health inspectors check because it’s typically the dirtiest square inch behind the bar. Disinfect the nozzle and holster and wipe clean the rest of the gun. The beverage guns should be cleaned a minimum of once a day.

4) Wash an extra rack of glasses. Take stock of the cleanliness of those glasses that are used less frequently. They often wind up sitting on the shelves or hanging in glassware racks collecting a filmy layer of grime, smoke and dust. Invest in the bar’s future and wash them.

5) Inspect and clean the pour spouts. Inspect the pour spouts on all of the bottles in the speed racks and on the backbar. Retire the spouts that are worn and leaky and clean the rest. When in doubt, change the spout. Make sure that when finished, all of the spouts face in the same direction relative to their label.

6) Wipe down the POS terminal. Sitting on the backbar, the register or POS is put through its paces every night and usually looks like it. Take a few moments and give it a detailing.

7) Clean vertical surfaces. The mark of a true professional is a clean bar. Cabinets, drawers, display cases and cooler doors are rarely cleaned, a fact not lost on your customers. Work with gravity and start at the top of the surface and work your way down.

8) Learn a new drink. Expand your professional expertise, pick up your favorite recipe guide and learn a new specialty.

9) Clean all of the behind-the-bar equipment. A significant investment has been made in outfitting the bar with the equipment necessary to conduct your trade. Take a few extra minutes to give things like the espresso machine and bar blender a thorough cleaning. Not only will they be more sanitary, a complete cleaning will boost their performance and extend their longevity.

10) Prep and stock for the next shift. Elevate yourself to hero status by lending co-workers assistance and a jump on their shift work.


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