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It’s Friday night and you’re rushing into a busy evening shift. When you step behind the bar, you notice everything is in disarray. The garnishes are out of place, the house liquor is all mixed up and the napkin holders are all out of napkins and straws.

You immediately feel stressed and annoyed. Is it too much to ask to walk into a clean and organized bar?

In the bar industry, you get what you give when it comes to organization and bar maintenance, and good bartenders know a clean and organized space is a safe haven and money magnet!

When the bar is clean and easy to navigate, you’ll be more efficient and attentive when serving customers which equates to better and faster service, meaning higher tips.

What’s more — an organized bar reduces chaos and feelings of overwhelm because you’ll always know where everything is meaning you’ll feel happier and more at ease and your shifts will run smoother. Plus, you’ll be ready for any surprise health inspections that may come your way!

Bar maintenance matters for your bottom line (and sanity!), the overall customer experience and the venue as a whole.

Here are 5 ways you can work to keep your bar space clean, organized and efficient while saving time and money in the process:

1. Have an Agreed-Upon Designated Spot for Everything

Get your fellow bartenders and bar backs to agree upon a placement for all displayed and house liquors, garnishes, bar tools, glasses, purees and anything else that impacts your ability to stay organized.

This will keep everyone accountable and on the same page when it comes to where things are and need to be.

Then if you ever walk into a shift where things are out of place, you can go directly to the person who was working before you and talk to them about putting things back where they belong.

2. Keep Open Wine Bottles to a Minimum

Unless you’re preparing for a big party or event featuring specific wine, keep open wine bottles of the same wine to a minimum.

When you have multiple bottles open of the same wine, it gets confusing for you and all of your co-workers and you all will probably be asking yourselves these questions:

  • Which bottle was opened first?
  • Are they all still good?
  • Which bottle do I use first?
  • What if the wine is bad? Should I taste them all?

What’s more — it makes the bar look messy and may attract fruit flies. Ask your fellow co-workers to keep open wine bottles to a minimum, and label any bottles that are the same with open dates so anyone working can vouch for their quality.

3. Follow An Opening and Closing Checklist

If everyone at your bar has (and follows) an opening and closing checklist, things will stay clean and organized, and everyone will be held accountable.

An opening and closing checklists is the most equitable way to ensure people are cleaning up after themselves and maintaining the bar.

A sample opening checklist might include the following:

  1. Wipe down the liquor bottles
  2. Replenish the garnishes and throw out any old garnishes
  3. Count the bank, ensure there are enough singles and small bills for the night
  4. Clean the bar area
  5. Restock the glasses
  6. Restock any liquor that’s low

A sample closing checklist might include the following:

  1. Refill straw and napkin holders
  2. Wash and dry the bar mats
  3. Wash and put away the glasses
  4. Restock liquor that’s low
  5. Wash down the bar area
  6. Clean and mop the bar floor
  7. Close out any outstanding checks
  8. Count bank and exchange your singles for bigger bills

Having a system to follow will allow everyone working to walk into a predictable environment, and know exactly what’s expected of them. It will also ensure everything is always tidy before and after each shift.

4. Agree on a Weekly Rotating Deep Cleaning Schedule

Most bars have a porter that comes in and cleans every morning before the bar opens. Even still, these porters don’t necessarily deep-clean the bar. That’s why it’s important to agree on a weekly deep cleaning schedule.

On a rotational basis, one bartender and barback should dedicate a few hours to cleaning the bar. This means diving into the refrigerator and cleaning out any old, expired products, washing underneath the bar mats where the glasses sit, washing underneath the liquor bottles, deep cleaning around the bar sink and underneath it etc.

Depending on how many other bartenders work at your venue, this might mean doing a deep cleaning shift every few weeks, or every few months.

5. Treat Your Bar Like a Distant Relative’s House

You know how when you go to a distant relative’s house you take your shoes off before entering, put away everything you touch and always clean up after yourself?

If you can take that same mentality and apply it to your bar you’ll be able to create and maintain a clean, inviting space for all of your customers and co-workers. This means whenever possible (obviously there will be exceptions when the bar is slammed) always put things back after you’re done using them, clean up after your customers as soon as they leave, wash and restock dishes frequently and keep things organized.

By honoring your workspace, you’ll attract customers who want to stay longer and earn the respect of your manager and fellow co-workers.

Maintaining a clean and organized workspace will ensure you’re never wasting time searching for items you need, restocking last minute during rush times, or frantically trying to wash glasses, make change etc. Also, it will show your customers you take pride in your job and are a true professional in this industry.

The end result?

More customers served in a quicker period of time, better service and more tips! Can you say cha-ching?

Antasha Durbin

Antasha is a seasoned bartender with more than seven years of bartending and hospitality experience. She is also a spiritual writer at, where she writes free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living. You can follow her on Twitter @cajspirituality for daily inspiration.