"What started out as a part-time job became the title of best bartender in the world," says a proud Tess Posthumus who, together with partner Timo, opened Flying Dutchmen Cocktails in Amsterdam. "My part-time job proved to be my passion and completely took over my ambitions." After many years of experience, Tess continues to thrive in a busy bar environment and is known for keeping her cool under pressure at all times.
In this final instalment of Tess’s expert opinion features, she focuses on the intricacies of the profession: the preparation and maintenance of equipment.
“Service of any type requires preparation”
"The preparation for a new shift starts at the end of the previous one the day before. Restocking the bottle coolers neatly so the drinks have plenty of time to chill, and cleaning down trays used for garnishes and chopping boards so that everything is clean the next day are just some of the things our team carries out before going home at the end of a shift.”
If you, like Tess, don’t have the luxury of much space behind the bar, an extra bottle cooler in the storage room is an essential safety net. "Our extra cooler is a back-up for extremely busy evenings. I should never be in the situation where I’m suddenly without tonic and there is nothing cold." The organisation and restocking of a storage cooler or stock room is crucial during peak times to avoid stock running out and service slowing down.
The clean culture
Tess trains her staff to maintain the refrigeration throughout a shift. "If you take a bottle from the refrigeration that is somewhat sticky, the bottle and the area around it must be cleaned immediately. That way the risk of spillages, accidents or damage to the equipment will never get out of hand."
Consideration must always be made for the treatment of bottles and the cooling equipment; even when new bottles are opened, they must be handled carefully. "For example, Vermouth is a wine product and can oxidise and therefore must be kept refrigerated. But even then, Vermouth can only be kept for three weeks. So, when my staff opens a bottle, we always write the date on the bottle to keep a close eye on the shelf life."
In between busy serving periods, Tess encourages her staff to spend time cleaning the coolers more thoroughly, "including the removal of bottles and cleaning of the trays. What should never be forgotten about are the glass doors. They must be free of grease and streaks so that customers looking at the bar have a good view of our featured products." Once in a while Tess also checks the door gaskets to make sure that there are no cracks, which can cause cold air to escape as this can have a significant impact on the cooling efficiency of the unit, and the running costs too.
Capitalise on your cooling
Properly maintained coolers result in lower energy consumption, fewer faults and a longer lifespan. To keep your coolers in the best condition, you should clean the grate, more commonly known as the condenser, about once a week.
"Clean the grate from bottom to top with a brush, and clear away the dust with a vacuum cleaner so that it does not get into the fan. You can then use a torch to check whether there are any remaining dust particles in the fan."
Make sure that air can flow inside and around your refrigeration to allow efficient and powerful cooling. "Do not over stack the fridge, because then the cold air won’t be able to circulate."
Finally, Tess warns about leaving slices of lemon and lime in the cooler. "What many people do not know is that the acids from these garnishes affect the evaporator of the cooler. Always discard them at the end of a shift and start with new ones. That way everything stays nice and fresh too."
If you want more advice on how to maintain your equipment to ensure it’s working in tip-top condition, contact us today.