As a bartender, I’m sure you can create some pretty great cocktails, but what happens when you’re thrust into a bar management role that you’ve never been in before?

Making a New York Sour is one thing, but coming up with processes and procedures for an entire bar team is a different set of skills altogether.

First things first, you need to make sure you have clear opening and closing procedures for the bar. Building out this repeatable checklist will keep your bar staff accountable, but more importantly, it creates a highly functional and professional environment.

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Bar opening checklist

These don’t need to be done in this specific order, but all must be completed prior to opening to ensure a smooth shift.


  • Clock in

Ice

  • Melt any remaining ice from the prior night with hot water
  • Wipe out sinks/bins/wells that contained old ice
  • Fully stock your ice bins with fresh ice

Fruit & Garnishes

  • Cut all fresh fruit needed for garnishes and making drinks (limes, lemons, etc.) and display in clean containers
  • Check dates on remaining fresh-squeezed citrus juices
    • If older than two days, discard
  • Squeeze fresh citrus juices (if needed)
  • Based on current cocktail menu, stock any other necessary garnishes (fruits, herbs, cherries, olives, etc.) in clean containers

Stocking Up

  • Take note of what you’ll need for backstock of liquor, wine, beer, and mixers
  • Stock your shelves, fridges, and wells behind the bar
  • Check on keg levels and make note of what might ‘kick’ during the shift
  • If necessary, have a backup keg ready to go and inform management and the rest of the staff about the possible change

Cleaning & Setup

  • Set up any service bars for drink service with bar mats, speed trays, straws, picks, stirs, bar tools, etc
  • Wipe down the bar top and stools with sanitizer and let air dry
  • Polish silverware for service
  • Fold napkins or create roll-ups with polished silverware and make sure you have enough for each bar seat for opening, plus two full turns of your bar seats
  • Get into uniform and make sure you have a speed opener, wine key, pens, and a lighter on hand

Bar closing checklist

These don’t need to be done in this specific order, but all must be completed prior to opening to ensure a smooth open for the next day.

Cleaning & Breakdown

  • Wipe down any bottles you have used throughout the shift with a clean, warm towel
  • Place any remaining fresh fruit/juices into to-go containers labeled with that day’s date
  • Wipe down your draught beer towers with a clean, warm towel and use a keg-line brush to clean out the ends of the taps themselves
  • Wipe down the bar top and stools with sanitizer and let air dry
  • Cap each tap with a rubber faucet cap to protect overnight
  • Put any remaining garnish into their original containers, or clean to-go containers labeled with that day’s date to store until the next day
  • Gather any remaining dirty linen (napkins, rags, etc.) and discard in the linen bucket
  • Take out all trash and recycling, leaving bins empty
  • Break down your service bars, and run everything through the dishwasher (garnish containers, shakers, jiggers, etc.)

Stocking Up & Resetting

  • Stock your fridges with any spirits, beer, or wine that would need to be chilled before the next service
  • Place all unused linens and/or silverware roll-ups into a bin or cabinet to be used again
  • Stock the walk-in with any kegs that may need to be chilled before the next service

  • Clock out

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