Clean is the new Black

Rethinking Sanitation & Cleanliness behind the Bar

As we move into this new post Covid world, we still have yet to fully understand what the long-term effects are going to be in our industry. But, one thing is certain … cleanliness, minimal touch points, new protocols in distancing, clean air circulation and PPE will continue to be implemented and a focus. In the years to come we may experience of new generation of germaphobes that won’t feel comfortable in a bar or restaurant if they don’t feel like it’s clean or sanitary even if the restaurant / bar is following their city & state health code regulations.

The Bar is under special scrutiny as guests can see everything at and behind the bar and everything the bartender does – from their cash drawers to making cocktails to washing their hands and all other guest interactions. So, even the “appearance” of or uncertainty of being unsanitary could come into play in ensuring guests & customers feel comfortable, safe and welcomed.

Below are some things to consider as the openings start to scale up and meeting this new demand of cleanliness.

RTD’s vs Craft Cocktails

For a long time, I’ve made a living off creating craft cocktails and cocktail menus. I don’t think that is going away, as there will always be a space for that. But, craft cocktails do come with their own set of standards and steps that needs to be carefully considered moving forward. To start, garnishes. Are they sanitary enough? For example, can you touch that orange twist in a cocktail?. Is it sanitary to dip that Margarita glass into that syrup sponge dish for rimmig your Margaritas? Are your fresh cut garnishes free from contaminants? Does the Bartender wash their hands between every single cocktail? What about Prep? Or, all the steps it takes to make a single cocktail and all the tools and touch-points that go into making a single craft cocktail. If they are wearing gloves, how often should they be changing them? Every cocktail? Every other cocktail? Every 10 minutes? As you can see, we can open up a whole new can o worms in really considering the sanitary protocols and the appearance of being not clean enough.

RTD’s check a lot of boxes – they’re consistent, sanitary and great tasting. No, it may not be as unique and “special” as a craft cocktail made for a guest, or have the same kind of experiential effect but as more and more hit the market, it’s a perfect way to get a consistent cocktail in the hands of a consumer and still be unique.

Melkon Khosrovian, founder of GreenBar, an organic line of spirits and cordials, moved their resources from creating and distilling spirits to creating and canning RTD’s. When asked how successful it’s been and their mindset … “During the pandemic, we’ve invested 2 million dollars in a new canning line, something we would have never done prior to the pandemic. I believe that the future is RTD’s. In the not so distant future, we may see shelves and shelves of RTDs instead of spirits. Instead of trying to teach people how to make a drink at home, just give them what they want – a well balanced cocktail right in their hands in a safe, convenient and cost-effective way.”

As a consultant, we can create hybrid beverage programs that take sanitary precautions to a new level and also minimizing touch points and prep. Simple, clean, consistent. Depending on the program, we may also incorporate RTD’s (or house-made RTD’s) into a new service models which can also foray into room service and takeout.

The Cocktail Station

Chances are, if you’ve been using the same cocktail station for 15+ years, it’s probably time to look at an overhaul of how the bar is set up, both for efficiency, safety and sanitary reasons. For so many years, bars have been designed to look pretty and haven't fully considered efficiency, safety or sanitation protocols. Now is the time to make these changes. You may also find that a new employee may demand that they work in a safer, cleaner and more organized space.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Tobin Ellis cocktail station by Perlick, but now it checks so many more boxes. It is a bit more expensive than the standard mixology well, but what you pay upfront can have some major positive effects and cost savings in the long term. Tobin is a Master at bar design and it shows in this cocktail station.

Speed & Efficiency – in a well organized bar and station, a bartender can make a cocktail 4x faster and with 4x fewer touchpoints to clean and sanitize tools and glassware. The bartender also doesn’t have to move from one end of the bar to another to make the vast majority of drinks and cocktails. In some cases, if planned right, you can have one bartender doing the work of two due the amount of efficiency a well-organized station and bar can provide. You may be able to cut down the labor costs and create more profit this way.


With more investments in keeping clean on top of a labor shortage, it’s more important than ever to streamline, streamline, streamline. Reduce your waste, work in synergy with the chef and kitchen to use the same ingredients and vendors. Find creative ways to use ingredients that normally get thrown away into accoutrements or other food and drink.

Having the right consultant team can help you think through these steps to streamline and be more profitable, from the bar design to fully developing an innovative beverage program.

We can help you identify problem areas and work towards solving them by developing a plan to make long-term and sustainable changes behind the bar. Some of this new building may take some time, but we can help build and plan for these kind of changes for the future.

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All