Thad Vogler’s 31 Rules

The City’s Foremost Liquor Authority, Thad Vogler Starts a Quiet Revolution

From 7×7 magazine.

“Vogler easily reforms naive or even apathetic drinkers into believers by preaching his artisanal modus operandi; these converts include potential members of his staff and perhaps the people running the bars he’s helped design (the Slanted Door, Camino, Jardinière, Presidio Social Club, and Beretta, among others). But when they get their hands on this playbook for mindful bartending, lifelong disciples are made. “Thad is decisive and direct. He creates intrigue,” says his wife, Katherine Vogler, a nurse-practitioner. “He attracts very loyal friends and employees.” Arguably, this kind of magnetism comes in handy when leading a revolution.”


Thad Vogler’s 31 Rules of Bartending

1. Wash your hands frequently.

2. Don’t touch your face, hair, or anything else that will leave your hands dirty.

3. No fingers in glasses.

4. No hands over the tops of glasses—handle glasses by the stems.

5. Don’t tuck towels into your waist. Have a consistent place for towels.

6. Use a clean cocktail napkin under every drink, even if it’s water.

7. Use jiggers always.

8. Don’t ever pour on the back bar or into a glass in your hand.

9. Pour wine in front of, and in the direction of, the guest.

10. Taste all new bottles of wine that are being served by the glass.

11. When serving wine by the bottle, pour guests only half a glass.

12. Shake at right shoulder, with two hands, one drink at a time.

13. Don’t walk and shake.

14. All bottles on the bar top should have labels facing the guest.

15. No tags on bottles on the back bar.

16. No pour spouts on bottles on the back bar.

17. Place things gently on counters, on the bar top, and in the trash.

18. Aim to make as little noise as possible when placing empty bottles in the recycling bins and when returning the bar bottles to the speed rails.

19. The back bar is the blood pressure of the bar: Is it packed and beautiful? Does everything have a place? Is there clutter? Is it being wiped down daily? Are bottles being cleaned?

20. Same goes for the condition of the bar top: It has to be immaculate at all times. It is the single most important gauge of the quality of service in a bar.

21. Interact with your guest with service, not with conversation. What are you doing for this person right now?

22. Every time you approach a guest, give service— clean, offer, remove, or pour water.

23. Repeat to guests what they are drinking when you place their drinks in front of them.

24. When speaking with a coworker, face the bar— don’t turn your back to the guests.

25. No profanity.

26. No sexually explicit conversation.

27. Don’t point. Gesture with an open hand, and only if you must.

28. We are friendly servants, not friends who serve.

29. Don’t say you’re sorry; say, “Thank you for waiting” or “Thank you for your patience.”

30. Treat guests and coworkers kindly. Remember to treat diners in the way you would want your mother or your friends treated.

31. The check is always the last thing to be cleared away.

5 thoughts on “Thad Vogler’s 31 Rules

  1. Great list! I tried to jigger everything until a rather busy brunch. Our serrano-infused mezcal for the Mezcal Mary made keeping the jigger clean a chore, so I began free pouring that (once I was comfortable with my count). Booze + mixer drinks I feel comfortable free pouring.

    I disagree with #31 after being burned too many times by people walking out with the signed credit card receipt. I make sure that the signed slip is there or I clear it after it has been signed to make sure its there. Saves chasing people down the street (my favorite response was “oh, did I do that again?”) or losing $$.

  2. really inspiring list erik! by the way, do you know where we can great those great parisian shakers thad is photographed with? cheers, eric

    • I heard back from a bartender at Bar Agricole regarding Thad’s shakers.

      Long story short, Thad really liked the big silver plated Parisians, but it turns out they are not really durable enough for professional bar use. Big ice blew out the bottom of the tins, stripped the finish from the inside, and created tiny fissures around the necks of the top tins. They did about two rounds of those tins (at over $100 a pair), but have since switched to the stainless WMF tins available from Cocktail Kingdom.

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