photo credit: Room at the bar VI via photopin (license)
It’s your first shift at a new job and you walk in the door early, just to be safe. You have exactly 45 minutes until you’re on the clock and making drinks. Before that clock starts, you better know where to find everything you’ll need for your shift – it’ll make your life easier and will make a great first impression with your new coworkers as well. Ready? Go!

Essentials for Your First Shift

The Ice

Let’s be honest – you can probably get by without everything else. The ice is the #1 most important thing. Where is the ice?

The Stockroom

This is often where you’ll find extra beer, wine, kegs, liquor, etc. – but not always. Make sure you know where your bar keeps extra:

  • Beer, wine, liquor
  • Garnish, Fruit, Citrus
  • Mixers and pre-batched cocktails
  • Kegs and CO2

Behind the Bar:

This is your cockpit. You may know how to drive, but you’ll do much better if you already know where the controls are. Take a few moments to find your key items:

  • The fridge for the beer / wine / mixers / garnish
  • Where are straws, cocktail napkins and coasters
  • Cocktail Recipes for specialty drinks
  • Bar tools like shakers, strainers, mixing glasses and spoons
  • Juicer (hand or power, if applicable), Knife, zester, cutting board
  • Where are the “live” kegs (in case they need replacing)
  • Extra menus
  • For restaurant bars – silverware and place settings
  • Within the POS: take five minutes to find your most common buttons (well stuff, specialty cocktails, beer, if you serve food,etc.)

The Flow of Service

Once you have the basics down, you can survive. The next step is to start to get the flow of the bar and how things work.

  • Is there an employee changing room or locker room where you can keep your stuff?
  • Know what your house pour is for standard drinks, “up” drinks and for house wine and beer
  • Where do tickets come out?
  • Where do you put credit cards for open tabs?
  • Where do you put dirty dishes / bus tubs?
  • Do you have a stock of phone chargers? Where are they?

Just in Case:

You can probably get away without knowing these on your first day, but it’s probably a good idea to find them before you need them!

  • First aid Kit
  • Lost & Found?
  • Extra paper for registers
  • Janitorial supplies & dishwashing chemicals

Clocking In:

Found it all? Probably not. But as long as you’ve found the ice, the cocktail recipes, the well and the back bar, you’ll probably do just fine. Have a great shift!

Julia Tunstall

Julia Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and Chief Cocktail Taster. She's in charge of keeping things running smoothly around here, but you'll also find her stopping by on the Mixology Talk Podcast or hanging around the Craft Cocktail Club.