As bartenders our job is to provide an experience for our guests. Whether we work behind the stick of a divey sports bar or an upscale cocktail lounge,
paying attention to detail is one way we can heighten that experience.
While serving a drink may seem fairly cut and dried, it’s the processes and nuances that fall in between the, “I’ll have a…” and the “here you go” that can make the difference between merely fulfilling an order and providing the kind of service that subtly lets your guests know you’re a pro.
The first step to great service in any establishment is to provide water, even before an order is given. As soon as a customer sits down at the bar, a small glass of water should be placed just to the left of where you will put his drink. At the same time, drop a beverage napkin or coaster roughly 12 inches in front of him, so he doesn’t need to stretch to reach his drink. Be sure that any logos on your napkins face the guest. Build the drink on the bar rail, so the guest can see. For cocktails served over ice, always finish before moving it from the rail. For drinks served up, there are two schools of thought: One is to create the drink as you would the one on the rocks; completing it and not moving it to the guest until it is poured. The other is to place a chilled, pre-garnished cocktail on the napkin and then pour the drink. Never make the guest wait for a garnish. Keep the placement of your garnishes consistent. If you notice that a patron moves his skewer of olives from the right of his glass to the left, be sure to place the garnish on the left side when he orders another. It is small touches that can make a big impression.
If your establishment serves food, always remember to ask if it okay to move your guest’s drink before setting him up with a placement of silverware. On that note, when removing an empty glass from in front of your guest, always ask if you may take it away. Make sure to look the guest in the eye and get confirmation before you do. As any comedian or storyteller knows, it’s all in the “delivery.” The same is true for bartenders. Following these steps when presenting drink service will add an almost imperceptible value to your guests’ experience but one that will keep them coming back time and time again
Step By Step
1. Place a small glass of water in front of your guests, as soon as they sit down. This will show that you’ve acknowledged them and it is a great way to buy a few seconds when you are very busy.
2. Place a beverage napkin or coaster 10 to 12 inches in front of the guest when the order is taken. Ensure logos always face the guest.
3. Place the drink in front of guest so that the garnish is at his three
o’ clock. If you notice a guest turning his glass or moving the garnish, take note and reposition on his next order.
4. A cocktail is not finished until it is properly garnished.
5. Once a drink is served and charged, it is the property of the guest. Always be mindful of this and ask if you need to move his glass. Also remember to get confirmation that a guest is finished before removing an empty glass from the bar.