The last bartending job I had was pretty great. I worked at a high end restaurant with a Monday through Friday day shift – but the place was always busy for lunch, so I still did pretty well on tips. I thought it might be useful to show you what a “shift in the life” was like for me.

What did I do before the doors open? What tasks did I do in addition to making drinks? How did I close things down and transfer to the evening bartender?

For reference, this restaurant had three stations. I was the only bartender on the day shift and I did not have a barback.

An Average Shift: Day Bartender in a Busy Restaurant

8:30 Arrive at work

8:32 Brew a double shot of espresso (Vital for my survival!)

8:35 Make a list of any syrups, mixers and spirits and garnishes that need to be restocked at each bar station

8:40 Make a list of any syrups that need to be made

8:45 Make a list of any spirits that need to be ordered

8:55 Make a list of any beer that needs to be ordered

9:00 Text all purveyors with spirits orders for the week

9:15 Gather all produce for garnish, eggs and syrups

9:20 Bring ice to all of the bar stations (5 x 5 gallon buckets per bar station)

9:40 Gather all spirits, wine, mixers and bottled beer that needs to be restocked.

9:50 Gather all silverware for roll ups

9:55 Cut lime, lemon and orange garnish for each bar station

10:05 Get staff meal

10:10 Finish setting up other garnish Cherries, olives, onions, cucumbers, etc)

10:20 Restock any spirits, syrups, egg whites, mixers, wine and bottled beer

10:30 Count till

10:30 Lineup – Bring silverware and linen for making 25-50 rollups

10:55 Brew second double shot of espresso

10:57 Enjoy that quiet moment when you know you are fully prepped and ready for a busy shift… or more likely scramble to get last minute items that you need in case you are busy immediately.

11:00 Doors open

11:00 to 11:30 scrounge any other items that are missing – ice tea pitchers, bread plates, dinner plates, extra silverware for coursing, bowls for mussels, etc. Try to fit in any other restocking that you need to do.

11:30 First customer arrives

11:30 – 2:00 Lunch service at the bar:

  • Fill 100 ice teas, Arnold Palmers and Diet Cokes in the pick up window.
  • Make about 5 cocktails
  • Pour 15 glasses of wine.

2:05 Begin cashing out servers on and off for the next hour

2:10 Make a list of any mixers, syrups, spirits, beer, wine, silverware and plates that need to get restocked for night bartender.

2:15-2:45 “Clock out for lunch” (ha!) Try to find time to restock before night bartender arrives.

2:45 Enter all tips into the POS

2:48 Bring all dirty dishes to the dishwasher

2:55 Restock all garnishes for night bartender

3:00 First Night bartender arrives

3:05 Give night bartender status update on customers, any low items and any 86 items.

3:08 Transfer any remaining tabs to night bartender

3:10 Count out cash drawer

3:30 Look for manager to hand over Cash drawer

3:40 Finish restocking bar stations

4:00 Begin creating any syrups that need to be made for the week

4:45 Create a produce order for the week

4:55 Clock out

So there you have it – a pretty standard day shift in a busy restaurant. Obviously every day was different, and there were always things going wrong and adjustments to be made. But in general, this was a pretty average shift.

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.