As bars and restaurants begin to reopen, KINKY Beverages and Chilled teamed up to see how bartenders are preparing to head back to the scene.

After the initial launch of Pink in 2011, KINKY Beverages has expanded its portfolio to include Blue, Red, Green, Aloha, Ruby & Fruit Punch Liqueurs, KINKY Vodka, KINKY Cocktails, and more. One of the brand’s goals is to empower bartenders and consumers to be their best, most authentic selves. With so many bartenders across the country heading back to work after a break, Kinky turned to Chilled and the Chilled 100 to get advice from bartenders for bartenders. Getting back behind the stick after so long away can be a little daunting – old muscle movements may not happen as easily, you may find yourself getting tired and frazzled easier, but following these experts’ advice can help make the transition smoother.

Lauren Pellecchia from Loveland, Ohio, recommends drinking water, stretching, getting enough sleep, and remembering to keep a healthy diet. “Pace yourself when you first get back behind the bar. You’re not going to be as quick or as smooth as you were, and that’s ok! You’ll get your speed and flare back, but don’t rush it,” she adds.

Pellecchia says to remember that we all make mistakes and to just laugh them off, adding that she makes a point to stretch before and during a shift. “The muscle memory is there, but it’s going to take a bit before your brain/body are back in sync.”

Brenda Riepenhoff

Brenda Riepenhoff

Keep in mind that things might be different from when you were last in the bar. Brenda Riepenhoff from Brooklyn advises being open-minded when heading back to work. “You may be working differently; such as potentially being short-staffed, not having a barback, and (you) have to be ready for constant changes because of how the guidance and restaurant covid rules change.” After all, staying safe is most important.

One of the main differences when returning to work will be wearing masks. Although meant to keep you safe, wearing a mask in the hospitality industry can take some getting used to. Most bartenders will tell you that when working with a mask, smile with your eyes and consider your movements, your customers may not see your mouth, but body language is just as important!

Charles Freeland explained, “If your bar is loud, like mine, you’re going to have to lean in close to hear them since you can’t read lips anymore – Be kind but firm about them wearing their mask when they talk to you – It does not work if they pull it down to speak or don’t cover their nose. Your health is not worth their $2. You will get a little push back, but those of us who worked during the pandemic pretty much fought and won that battle for you.”

Bartender Alex Velez

Alex Velez

Alex Velez has been looking at masks through trial and error. He spent time researching which masks are better than others, trying to find one that can hold up for 12-14 hour-long shifts. He also uses a cool-looking mask as a conversation starter. “It’s a conversation piece, and people love it so, it sets a friendly tone at the beginning as ‘the guy with the cool mask.”

When it comes to getting back behind the bar, Velez advises to start slow, “Wear the most comfortable shoes that fit industry standards. Ease yourself into the busier shifts start with a slower shift and build up, keep a protein bar and plenty of water thru the shift. Get your mise en place and your station set up to have an easy shift. Lock in backups and extra stations of Sani. Take your breaks, demand your breaks… 30 minute and two 10 minute ones, or whatever your company gives, take it. Rest whenever you can at home. On days off rest, and then build up to party status but for now just ease up to everything.”

At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel a sense of normalcy. As you head back to work, take it slow and take extra time to take care of yourself. The pandemic has reminded everyone not to take the little things for granted, but it’s also shown us how important it is to be empowered to make the most of our time and wellbeing while we’re here.

Looking for some help taking that extra time to unwind while stuck at home still? Try mixing up a tropical cocktail with KINKY Aloha for a taste of the tropics without the travel.

Kinky Aloha Mule

Aloha Mule

Aloha Mule

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. KINKY Aloha⁠
  • 1 oz. dark rum⁠
  • 2 shakes aromatic bitters⁠
  • Squeeze of lime juice⁠
  • 3 oz. ginger beer⁠

Preparation: Pour KINKY Aloha and dark rum over ice in a highball glass. Add bitters and lime juice. Top with ginger beer, stir, and garnish with a lime.