The premise behind Multiple Order Service (MOS) is simple. By serving four or five guests at once a bartender can minimize walking back and forth, double up on certain drinks and increase their production capacity. Increase your skill level by grasping this process and you will increase your sales and your tips and commission. You probably already do some of this unconsciously, but learning the theory behind that instinct can only help.
You don’t need to be working in some jazzed up swank pit to use this system, it is applicable to every venue and is simple to get going in a club situation on a huge scale.
The theories detailed below are always applied on a busy dispense bar (and kitchen) to tickets as opposed to guests. When the principle is stuck to it is very possible to produce the same number of drinks as two or three barman on front bar.
More transparent drinks guys?
MOS is not entirely simple, but it is definitely something that with practice will improve your bartending as well as give you more time behind the bar. It is also an amazing brain training game.
Bartender rule #3 has always been: “Work smart. Not hard.” Never has this been more true than when indulging in the art of MOS. Completing all points of service in the least number of moves possible equates bartending with chess in terms of applying intelligence to problem solving. Sound fun?
So let’s begin…
Frequency Vs. Distance
First off, a simple rule that should apply to all busy bars: In set up there is no space at all for ego. It’s a simple case of frequency of use Vs. distance. By all means keep your cardamom bitters right next to you if it is close to your heart but the truth is that you want your liquor, juices and modifiers grouped in a manner that allows you to pick up two or three objects in one hand to use several times before replacing back into there place of origin and you want the objects you use most, closest. A friend of mine often refers to the pivot rule, you should be able to reach everything you need without moving the ball of one of your feet.
The underlying principle of dispense service and MOS is…
THE WORKING ORDER
Most bartenders are aware of something called the working order. It looks like the list below and appears obvious. However, when busting out MOS this is the only way you can work and it requires a little practice to stick to it.
- Glassware & equipment
- Working drinks >stir>blend>muddle>shake>build>pour>pop
When the bar is extremely busy everyone wants their drink quickly and efficiently whilst you are simultaneously being charming and witty. If you set your guests up correctly it will be obvious that you are performing something special and the act of MOS itself more often than not becomes the entertaining factor in your work. In order to get your guests to fall into line you must first establish a…
My favourite way to get into a rhythm with MOS is utilising 4 tip trays. By all means start with less. I serve in groups of four and aim to stick to a beat that the crowd on the other side of the sticks can easily pick up on. It becomes clear to those waiting that if they get with my program everyone get’s looked after.
Lovely painting by Norman Stansfield Cornish of an 11 person MOS round.
That’s when MOS gets really fun. What you will also notice is that when you serve twenty drinks at once there is instantly more community between the people waiting. They watch you together and there is a distinct increase in crossover chatter, which is something I always aim to create.
First I choose my four guests. I take the first order and tell the guest there drinks will be two minutes. Then I ask the next person and tell them there drinks will be three minutes, four minutes for the next person and five minutes for the fourth person. The truth about the delivery time is irrelevant; I’m establishing a pattern and an order of service. These people all now know they have been acknowledged and production has begun, they relax.
Give yourself mental cues
As I am taking the orders from the four people the first thing on my working order list is glassware and equipment. The trick at this point is to remember all the drinks being ordered for the duration of the four rounds. In order to do this I collect all the glassware required for all my orders and set it up on my build mats alongside any other equipment I may need. By doing this I have prepared myself mental cues for every drink on the list.
The set up for the glassware tends to be a blend of keeping drinks as close to the guests that ordered them as possible and grouping together sets of drinks that all the parties involved have ordered. (It’s quite fun to prepare eight cocktails and then split them at the very last minute between three or four groups).
Then I will ice all the glassware in the required manner. Icing everything at once is an obvious time saver.
Next I begin the process of making the drinks using the working order. Every menu is different and so every bar / bartender is going to have there own idea of what should come where but the basic principle is always the same. Things that take the most prep are started first. Put very simply a chef would always put a fish pie in the oven first and then put the accompanying salad together just as the pie come out of the oven. This ensures the salad is fresh, the pie is hot and everything is ready together.
Order together, produce together, bill together, tip together.
When presenting the drinks to the different guest groups I again try and create a rhythm. Here you are, now here are yours, now these are your drinks. It links things back in the guests head to when I told them 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes. They understand that this has been the plan all along. I go back down the line of guests and tell them the totals for the bills one by one. Then I go back down the line again collecting the money from each guest in turn. Then I repeat the process a final time when delivering the change. It looks great, is very quick and teaches your punters to shape up a little in terms of how they order. With four piles of potential tip at a time it is way, way, way, way more likely that a few of them will tip you well.
An example round
So six people walk in to a bar (G1-6), there are two bartenders (BT1 & BT2). BT2 is using MOS. BT1 is not. They both approach their first guest at the same time. Both G1 and G2 order a beer from BT1 & BT2 respectively. BT1 goes to the fridge and gets the beer, where as BT2’s next move is to move on to G3, who also orders a beer as well as a vodka tonic. BT1 hands over the beer to G1 and charges them £1 for the beer.
While that is happening BT2 asks G4 what they are drinking, they order 2 more beers, another vodka tonic and 3 shots of tequila. BT1 returns from the till with the change and moves on to G5 to take an order, it is the same as G2’s order, a beer and a vodka tonic.
While BT1 is taking that order BT2 collects 6, sorry, 7 shot glasses and 2 highballs, ices the highballs then grabs 3 beers from the fridge. At this point G2, G3 & G4 are looking at each other a bit funny until BT2 says to G2 & G3, “Hey G4 are having tequila’s, do you want some too?”
During that BT1 has got one highball, iced the glass, poured the vodka tonic and then moved to the fridge for the second time to get the second beer. BT2 is now pouring 7 tequilas in one hand and 2 vodkas in the other hand. The 3 beers are being drank by G2, G3 and G4.
BT1, now at the till for the second time, charges G5 for a vodka tonic and a beer. G5 however is looking at G2, G3 & G4 enviously as they are all engaging in a round of shots with the bartender. BT2 tells G2 they owe £2, G3 they owe £4 and G5 they owe £7.
BT1 pours himself a shady tequila on the side and then wanders over to a very thirsty G6 who orders 2 beers, 2 VAT’s and 3 tequilas. BT1 goes to the fridge for a third time and collects the beer, again. Then BT1 goes to the highballs, again. Then BT1 goes to the ice well, again.
BT2 returns with the change for G2, G3 and G4 on three tip trays. They leave it behind because BT2 is awesome. BT1 is still fucking about finishing G6’s round. BT1 is rubbish. BT1 serves drinks with the pace of someone high on LSD.
Worst joke ever?
I’ll stop there.
I think you get it. Of course the three rounds detailed above are simple ones. But you can imagine the difference this service style could have if implemented throughout a night.
Please do try this out and let me know how you get on. Please do comment and ask if some things don’t make sense. Please do let me know if you have techniques you use for MOS that I have not included here.
Next time in The Art of Fast: MOS pt 2 I’m going to delve deeper into the science behind more complicated rounds and reveal a few secrets utilized by top dispense bar geeks. I’ll also be going into how your support staff can best help an MOS bartender and answering any questions this first post has raised.
Thanks for reading.