Boothby’s Ten Commandments: IX.


As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

IX. After using a bottle or tool always replace it before doing anything else. Make this a rule that should never be broken; and, when you are rushed with business, you will never be compelled to hunt for this or that, but you will always know just where it is.

If there is any one thing, especially, that previously working as a line cook helped me with as a bartender, it is exactly this.

The idea of getting your station set up exactly the same every night, everything in reach, supplies topped up, and keeping it clean and in order for the length of your shift.

Fancy cooks use the French term “mise en place” or just “mise” for this, which means, more or less, “everything in its place”.

Ideally, you’d be able to close your eyes and make the drinks without much of a problem.

Look, as a bartender, you have to juggle a lot of things in your head. The drink orders from the dining room, the people standing in front of you, customers’ money, customers’ drinks, customers’ food orders, the last thing the wait staff asked you for. All that stuff you have to keep straight.

If you can take one thing out of your head, so you don’t have to think about it, don’t have to look for that bottle during a busy shift, you should do it. Setting up your station adequately and keeping it organized is the best way to do that.

Andrew Bohrer explained this much more “poetically” in his post, Get Your Fucking Mise in Order.