Behind the Bar: Why It Helps to be a Little Obsessive if You’re a Bartender

An LA bar owner shares his secret to remaining on top of his game

Order and chaos behind the bar.

When you own a bar, everywhere you look you see withered garnishes, sputtering votive candles and napkins shredded by a nervous guest. The lights are too dim. The music is too loud. A faucet drips. Fossilized lipstick congeals on the rim of a freshly poured daiquiri. A glass shatters. Ten seconds go by and no one races to clean it up. Your security guard is glued to his cellphone as guests slip in through the door.

In the real world, people say you’re compulsive; it’s likely the reason you’re still single. But in the bar world, the disorder has another name. It’s called “systems and order,” and it forms a unified survival code. The code ensures that your cocktails contain precisely 2 ounces of booze, that your Old Fashioneds are chilled by a single big block of ice instead of many melty cubes, and that when there is still no table for the sweet couple who have waited patiently for 35 minutes, everyone knows to offer apologies and a round on the house.

These systems and order are a version of what is sometimes known as “knolling.”



Find out more about knolling on the LA Times.