Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VII. Wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole.


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.


VII. If you are troubled with sore feet, bathe them regularly. Avoid patched or ragged hosiery, and wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole. Light soles, low cut shoes or slippers should never be worn behind a bar.

First let me stress one thing: Bartenders, like cooks and waitstaff, stand for almost the entire duration of their work day/night.  If you’re lucky, you might get to lean against a post out back for a while, or, maybe, if you’re especially fortunate, sit down for long enough to scarf some food.

You will be bending over grabbing bottles, lifting buckets of ice, carrying cases of liquor, kegs of beer, or reaching up to grab bottles from the back bar.

All of this is especially tough on your back, especially lower back.

One of the most important things you can do to help yourself, and your back’s future, is to invest in quality footwear.

Different bartenders seem to have different philosophies of footwear. Almost all service requirements say they should be black. Beyond that, important features include a no slip sole and some decent amount of arch support. Waterproof is also not a horrible idea, as you’ll probably spill some liquids on them during the course of the evening.

Some people wear clogs, some people athletic type shoes.  Others low work shoes.  I, thankfully, have never seen a bartender wearing Batali inspired Crocs. I would probably have to slap them upside the head.

Personally, I go with the Red Wing Gentleman Traveler Boot. Red Wing boots are well made and durable. If you keep them cleaned and oiled, they should last you more than a few years, if not decades.  As they don’t have the most super arch support, I have added some cushiony insoles I got from an athletic shoe store.

Not sure about the whole “hosiery” thing, but thick, black, cotton blend work socks from WigWam are my choice.