Updated October 9th, 2018 – Having several years in the bar and restaurant industry, I can confidently say, I know what I am talking about.
I have worked in every type of establishment out there!
Dive bars, nightclubs, high-end restaurants, corporate restaurants, concerts, cocktail bars; you name it, I’ve worked it.
So, listen to up!
Here’s Bartending 101…
When it comes to bartending, it comes down to one simple thing…
Speed and efficiency.
The faster you go, the more you sell. The more you sell, the more tips you make. Throw in a hello and a smile, and off you go.
The art of bartending, in my opinion, seems to have taken a nosedive in recent years. With this obsession with mixology and slapping sage and zesting lemons.
Bartending is more than throwing ingredients in a shaker and taking ten minutes to make some souped-up gin and tonic. It’s being friendly yet attentive, fast yet personable.
Having fluidity behind the bar is essential. And in order to accomplish this, you need the right equipment. A bottle opener may seem like a simple thing, but it is one of the most important tools a bartender can have.
Time is money baby! The proper equipment ensures getting the most out of your time.
How many openers do you really need?
You can go online and browse for hours at gimmicky bar supplies. There are countless products out there that are supposed to make preparing drinks easier.
But when it comes down to it, again, keep it simple.
If I had a dime for every high-end expensive wine opener I have seen with irreplaceable parts that break and need an instruction manual to operate – I’d be chilling on an exotic island right now!
I prefer the basic pocket-sized model any day. Same goes with bottle openers, especially if you are a bartender.
A bottle opener should be sleek so it stores easily in your pocket; avoid openers with thick handles and sharp parts used to open cans. If opening cans are part of the job, get a separate opener as you will surely be opening more beer than cans of pineapple juice.
The opener should be easy to grasp and easy to use. If you grab five beers at once, an easy-to-access bottle opener can pop off the tops in a matter of seconds.
Not only is it making good use of your time, but it is also visually appealing to customers. Yup, imagine a Tom Cruise move in Cocktail.
The material should be heavy duty stainless steel so it endures and does not break off bottle tops.
Avoid the vinyl coated openers as it makes more resistance when pulling it out of your pocket.
And lastly, a common oversight, a very simple visual design. In the bar/restaurant industry, everyone steals. Your co-workers steal and your customers steal, especially drunken ones.
Although it may give you a little extra flair to have a hot pink bottle opener, unfortunately, everyone else thinks so as well.
Once I bought ten red cocktail shakers for a nightclub I managed. By the end of the first night, we had three left including the one I found in the men’s bathroom. Anything with a beer or liquor brand name on it?
Forget about it.
Set down your bottle opener with ‘Jameson’ stamped on it, it will end up in Bob’s mini bar at home!
Plain, sturdy, stainless steel bar keys. They are cheap, will last forever, and no one else wants them.
Less is More – Bottle Openers You Should Consider
Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Flat Bottle Opener
See the Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Flat Bottle Opener at Amazon
The Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Flat Bottle Opener is as basic as it gets and is the favorite of experienced bartenders.
At 7” long x 1.6” wide x 0.3” thick, the shape is slim and compact, so it’ll fit easily into your front or back pocket. The bottom of the handle has a round hole so it can be suspended if that is how you choose to use it.
The heavy design endures abuse and avoids chipping the tops of the bottles. There is a reason almost every bartender you see has one like this.
They are cheap and easy to replace, and the craftsmanship shows it, but they will get the job done. I suggest buying a few at a time. If you own a bar or restaurant it is always good to have a few on hand in the event that a bartender is not prepared.
TronStore Premium Stainless Steel Bottle Opener
See the TronStore Premium Stainless Steel Bottle Opener at Amazon
If you like a smaller bottle opener, the TronStore Premium Stainless Steel Mini Flat Speed Bartender Bottle Opener is 4 ½ inches in length as opposed to the 7-inch standard bar key.
It has all of the same qualities of the standard key in a more compact design. Personally, I prefer a smaller bottle opener but it is simply a matter of taste. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this baby.
QLL Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Bottle OpenerSee the QLL Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Bottle Opener at Amazon
Absolutely have to have some color? Go with the QLL Heavy Duty Flat Stainless Steel Bottle Opener.
It has all of the properties of the standard key but in a variety of colors and a similar economical price.
Just keep in mind that it will be more attractive for sticky fingers. If you don’t lose it and don’t love it, or it breaks, it does come with a 100% manufacturer’s lifetime warranty, replacement guaranteed, no questions asked.
Thirsty Rhino Badak Bottle OpenerSee the Thirsty Rhino Badak Bottle Opener at Amazon
The Thirsty Rhino Badak Bottle Opener is another quality heavy duty stainless steel opener. It slightly outdoes the standard bar key in its function.
It is brushed stainless steel, making it smoother and prettier than the cheaper option up top, with less flair than the vibrantly colored options. The powder coated finish helps ensure your grip, making it even easier to open bottles efficiently.
Where the standard key you may occasionally have to make more than one attempt at opening a bottle, the design if this opener creates more accuracy. It comes with a slightly higher price tag but is worth it if you can keep track of it.
Add Margaritas to your repertoire of drinks. Here are my best recommendations for Margarita machines for your bar.
And if you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas for the chef in your life, check out my recommendations here.
Frequently asked questions
Why is one end round?
Some people don’t realize this, but the one function of that opening is to pull bottles out of the ice. You simply slip the hole over the bottle and pull up at an angle, careful not to let the bottle fall back through. Some people may think it is meant to twist off difficult pop bottle caps, but it’s too wide.
Are they durable?
These bottle openers are all different, so it’s best if you do some research and find which one best suits your needs. For a bartender, something more heavy duty would be best and least likely to rust. If you just need something to get open a beer after work or at barbecues, any of these should get you through the summer.
Are they easy to use?
All of these bottle openers are easy to use, as long as you know which end is meant for which task. Of course, there is a difference in just how easy it is to open a bottle with each one. Some make the job painless, while the cheaper options may require a little more effort and finesse on your part.
Can you use these to open beer cans?
These bottle openers are not meant to open cans, as mentioned above, look into getting a different bottle opener for that purpose.
Those bottle openers have sharp edges that can be uncomfortable in your pocket and get annoying. Have a designated place to store it so it won’t get lost.
Since you’ll typically be opening more bottles than cans, it’ll be convenient and faster to have a novel sleek bottle opener in your pocket.
Can’t I just open the bottle on the bar?
While it may seem like a cool trick and a good way to impress the patrons, it’s probably not a good idea. It can be destructive to the bar, it could break the bottle, and you look like a fool the 1 time it doesn’t work.
It’s faster, easier, and less risky to just use the bottle opener like everyone else. It’s okay to follow the crowd sometimes.
So now know what really matters in a bottle opener. Less really is more!
All that’s left is for you to pick the best one for your needs. Ditch the gimmicks…
Bring back the art of great bartending baby!!
Need the perfect wine glasses for your next bottle of cab? Check out my top recommendations.