These days, the life of a bartender is life on the road. Whether they’re working multiple gigs across town, trekking to new cities every week to rep brands as an ambassador or traveling for cocktail competitions, bartenders are constantly on the move. For many, this means hauling a load of barware and bottles along too.
For years, industry professionals had to muddle through trips with makeshift solutions, usually stuffing their gear and ingredients into a carry-all, backpack, cooler or even toolbox. But these travel hacks aren’t exactly the safest options. Bottles shatter. Tools dent. Ingredients squish and bruise.
Cocktail Kingdom Leather Bar Tool Bag ($170)
You can trust pretty much any item from the Cocktail Kingdom array, but that dependability is especially important in the Leather Bar Tool Bag. In shape, the bag resembles many bar kit roll-ups, which conveniently bundle your tools together but do little to protect them from bumps and bruises. Roll-ups also typically can’t fit anything bulkier than a bar spoon or knife. This handsome distressed leather bag suffers neither of those issues. The tough exterior does a good job protecting your gear, and it’s easily large enough to fit shakers, mixing glasses, books and any other item you might need on the go (including that roll-up), yet it remains slim enough to carry easily. The design is intentionally minimal, with a single large space to throw everything in together, so look elsewhere if compartments are what you’re after.
Tilit Bartender Bag ($195)
Rockey designed his bag to be versatile first and foremost. The main bag, which can be carried as a backpack or briefcase, includes foldaway dividers to allow users to customize the interior to their liking. You can max out the bag with four bottles or opt for fewer in combination with shakers, tools or even a cutting board. But the Bartender Bag’s biggest asset is its breakout tool bag, a smaller carrier that can fit snugly in the middle of the main bag or be carried separately. No matter how you prefer to travel, or if your gigs tend to require shifting kits on the fly, the Tilit Bartender Bag provides the setup you need.
Mavenhal Shifter ($237)
One of the first brands on the scene, Mavenhal (formerly known as Barkeeper & Co.) has been providing bartenders with excellent bags for years. Seattle bartender Craig Krueger launched the operation on Kickstarter back in 2014, hoping to create a bag “for bartenders, by bartenders.” With experience in all aspects of the industry, Krueger understands the needs of mobile bartenders everywhere and designs his bags accordingly.
While the company now offers three models—the original Bar Bag and the backpack-like Bar Back—we especially love the brand’s newest model, the Mavenhal Shifter. Modeled after a classic messenger bag, this midsize shoulder bag provides a comfortable way to carry a few bottles and a full tool kit. The first bag to hit the market made with waterproof fabric, the Shifter comes stocked with swinging dividers to welcome bottles of any size, foldaway pockets for tins and mixing glasses, elastic gusseted pockets for tools, and an exterior zip pocket for notebooks or a laptop. Altogether, it combines lightweight convenience with durability, all in a compact package.