Chilling glassware is one of those nice little touches that may not seem like a big deal to you, but your customers will appreciate – like remembering a favorite drink, or replacing a wet cocktail napkin.
For a drink that won’t have ice in it but is served cold (like a martini, grasshopper, or Rob Roy) a chilled glass will keep the drink cold longer, as well as show the customer that you care (and you know what you’re doing).
There are two basic ways to chill glasses. Storing them in a cooler (if you have one available) until they are used is a great way to chill pint glasses or glass beer mugs. Just pull one out and pour the beer. If your bar serves draft beer or beer poured from a can, chilled pint glasses are the way to go. (If your bar uses pint glasses for other drinks, such as soda or other non-alcoholic drinks, be sure to keep some un-chilled glasses as well.)
For mixed drinks served “up” or “straight up” (cold, but no ice), you can chill the glass while you make the drink. Usually this is done for cocktail or martini glasses, but you can chill any kind of glass you want. It works best with stemmed glassware, because the body of the glass (where the liquid sits) gets cold, but the stem stays room temperature, so it won’t be cold to the touch.
Before you begin making the drink, take the glass it will be served in and fill it with ice. Some bartenders also fill the glass with water, to help spread the chill, but the downside to doing that is that you can’t pour the ice back in your ice bin. (You don’t want to pour water or soft ice into an ice bin.) Over the course of a busy night, you’ll appreciate saving every bit of ice you can.
Let the glass sit on the bar with the ice in it (where the customer can see it) while you make the drink, then dump the ice back into your ice bin and pour the drink into the chilled glass. You should be able to see the frosting around the side of the glass.
Many customers also like their shots chilled, especially with whiskey. The easiest way to do this is to pour the liquor into the glass (shot glass, rocks glass, or whatever your bar uses for a shot) and sit it in the ice bin for a minute to let it get cold.
Chilling your glassware won’t make your tips skyrocket, but your customers will appreciate the effort and it may make you more memorable than another bartender, which helps keep more customers coming back to you.