Like waitrons, bartenders are constantly on the move. In order to avoid fatigue and keep ourselves from shedding bar tools all over the floor, we try to keep carry weight to a minimum, ensuring that we are light and fast. This is what I carry up to the bar from the basement after ditching my pack and my jacket:
The items in the back of the image with the exception of the thin purple notebook remain by the register in a mule mug or julep cup for quick access:
iPod: In case internet service cuts out and the Pandora station fails to load. Also mostly useful as a calculator for splitting checks five ways, summoning an Uber/Taxi, settling bar bets, quickly finding the proportions to an obscure cocktail. While some may balk at having to look up recipes, it is simply best practice to choose ensuring order accuracy over pride.
Thin Notebook: I have the memory of a drug-addled old man selling socks on the side of the road. I still have to write some things down.
Planner (indicated with sewn red rectangle): I work two jobs and have been working every day for the last 25 days. I would rather not confuse the two or have shifts overlap. Handy for remembering anniversaries/dates where you should take your girlfriend’s new dress out for dinner.
Cocktail Quick Reference (Indicated with sewn gold star): Used for keeping track of any cocktail menu add-ons, client favorites or menu items which I have shamelessly stolen from my friends.
-All remaining items are carried on my person-
In the Vest: Vests are a personal choice, just like plaid is a personal choice. I choose to wear a vest not only because I believe that it adds to the service experience, but because practically it is a piece of load bearing equipment (LBE) which allows me to evenly distribute the weight of my tools and carry more items. What lives in my vest lives there because there is no room for it in the pockets of my famously tight pants.
Pens: One Scotch Malt Whisky Society pen for myself and one I could give a shit about, so yes, of course you can borrow it to finish your sudoku.
Flammables: Lighter for flamed zests and candle lighting, backup lighter, matches to loan out which have usually been taken from either Quinn’s or Smith.
In the Trousers:
Wine Key: I don’t need to shell out $1500 for a wine key and neither do you. If someone asks you, “hey, can I borrow your wine key?” what they are really asking you is: “Hey, do you have a wine key that you never want to see again?” These basic five-dollar wonders are built to take a beating, work flawlessly and need less maintenance than a Glock. One respected older gentleman (and I use that term loosely) bartender I used to work with doesn’t carry a wine key, bottle opener or pocket knife. All he carries during service is a Swiss Army Knife and a pen. And his reading glasses when he’s writing out tabs.
Bottle Opener (with can punch): when I worked in much seedier places, the can punch was…handy. Now that I work in a place where I can wear a tie bar, the can punch has finally been used for its intended purpose, and frequently so. I don’t like unnecessary trips to and from the kitchen, so I don’t even have to make the hike to ask for a can opener to bust open the giant can of tomato juice used for our Sriracha-laced Bloody Mary Mix. The bottle opener is handy because I don’t like using the wall-mounted one. It is an unnecessary trip and too often leads to my face being sprayed with beer, and not in the good way.
Uncle Mike’s Pocket Holster: Compact holster for carrying all the above-listed tools. Once I ditch my pack and jacket, all I have to do is grab my holster out of the pack and walk upstairs.