Bartending isn’t just about having fun with a bunch of intoxicated people for money. It is a craft that requires a lot of social skills and abilities, and like any craftsman, bartenders need their tools to do a good job. Here are seven tools bartenders could never live without.
1. A hand towel
Have you ever shaken hands with a bartender while they were working? Odds are it was one damp handshake. From making drinks to hand washing glassware, our hands are covered in liquid all shift long. We need to constantly dry our hands so we don’t fling liquor bottles every time we make a drink. While our hand towel is usually just a terry cloth rag, it is essential.
2. A paring knife (and Band-Aids)
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried cutting lemons with a steak knife. It’s just so wrong. I’ve seen bartenders have full-blown breakdowns over missing paring knives. It seems like such a small thing, but what good is a cocktail without its garnish? And remember to always keep a supply of Band-Aids with your knives. No matter how careful you are, you will eventually sustain fruit-cutting related injuries on the job — and cuts and lemons don’t mix.
3. A strainer
Because no one wants ice chunks in their Martini.
4. A juicer
Not every bar uses fresh juices, but if yours does, you know the importance of a juicer. I once spent an hour of my life squeezing tiny bits of juice out of blended ginger pulp in order to make a specialty ginger syrup. With a juicer, I could have gotten at least 58 minutes of my life back.
5. Attractive garnish jars, preferably with latches
Those plastic trays just don’t cut it. A bar looks so much nicer with a lovely array of glass garnish jars next to pretty glass bottles for bitters, tinctures, and syrups. It is the bartender’s very own chemistry station. Plus, jars with latches make it more difficult for drunk guests to reach over and help themselves to your olive supply.
People love matches. Always have a jar of matchbooks at your bar. Yes, it’s a little like that house at Halloween that leaves the bowl of candy with the sign, “only take one piece”, some jerk is inevitably going to take the whole bowl. But it doesn’t matter, you will refill that bowl because it is the right thing to do!
7. Loud music
While not a literal tool, when it comes to music, the louder the better. Something about the pounding beat actually helps to clear the mind and focus attention on the matter at hand — getting people drunk.