What Is A Bar Key? Types Of Bottle Openers And Uses


What are the chances for you to open a bottle without a bottle opener? Either you find something to help you open it or just put the bottle back and find a bottle opener. For a bartender, a bottle opener is the best tool he can have to make his work behind the bar faster.

The bottle opener is also called a church-key. Although why it was called church key is not clear, the most plausible explanation must be that the first bottle openers have a head that looks almost like a literal church-key. Aside from the fact that it also opens something. If it was supposed to be a pun or anything, the name stuck. 

What do bartenders use to open bottles? 

This may sound stupid because we all know the answer would be, of course, a bottle opener! But seriously, what do bartenders use to open bottles? Anybody can probably use any bar opener, but if you are a bartender, opening a bottle goes longer than just opening the bottle. It is also about speed, efficiency, no messes, and mishaps. For the bartenders, your best bet is a flat bottle opener that they can stick in their back pocket for easy reach. 

Before we go to what bartenders use to open bottles, let us look at the evolution of bottle openers. I’m sure some of these are no longer familiar to you.

Crown Cork Opener

This is the traditional bottle opener, designed to remove the crown cork. The crown cork is what we now know as the bottle cap for beers and bottled soft drinks. However, to distinguish it from the more modern bottle caps, we will use the correct term - cork crown. 

The crown cork opener, also known as the church key because it resembles the shape of the literal church key, is probably one of the simplest inventions that eased out many lives. After so many years, it has been improved to make it more efficient but the basic purpose of opening bottles remained the same. 

It has a rectangular or rounded opening on one end and a handle on the other end. The handle may be of the same material as the head or it may come with a wooden or rubber-coated handle. Both hands should work to open the bottle, one hand to hold the bottle and the other to hold the bottle opener. 


These are wall-mounted types of bottle opener that can be worked with a single hand as the wall provides stability to the lever for easier opening. Newer versions have collector caps underneath or a magnet to prevent littering bottle caps on the floor. 


Multi-openers are for multitasking people who want one tool to do more than one task. These can come with a corkscrew for opening wine bottles, can piercer to pierce milk or beer cans, or opener for plastic bottles. 

Bartenders do not only open beer bottles; they also open wine bottles that come with cork stoppers. Not getting the cork stopper perfectly may result in shredded cork that may come in contact with your precious wine. Clients will not appreciate wine with floating bits of cork. 

To help you with that,  here are some corkscrews that ever graced the bar scene. 

Waiter’s Friend

Also called wine key, it is similar to a Swiss army knife as it comes with a cork screw, bottle opener, and a knife or foil cutter to remove the foil top that protects the cork and serves as an additional seal for the wine. This is no longer in use in bars since it usually results in floating cork bits in the wine. 

Mounted Corkscrew

The mounted corkscrew is more efficient in removing the cork from wine bottles as it is more mechanical. The bottle is attached to the cork remover and the handle is pulled down. The cork is removed clean out of the bottle. 

The more recent adaption to the mounted corkscrew is the uncorking machine with table stand. Some versions can even put the cork back into the bottle for storing the leftover wine for later. 

Twin Prong Cork Puller

Also called the Butler’s friend, this resembles the church key but instead of the end for opening the bottle, it comes with two strips of metal. The metal ends are inserted into between the cork and the bottle and are later pulled out to bring the cork out with it. 

Compared to the traditional corkscrew, this takes out the wine stopper cleaner with small chances of getting into the wine.  

Bar Key FAQs

1. What is a bar key used for?

Bar keys are speed openers that are flat and compact. It is a no-frill, no-nonsense bar tool that can fit in the bartender’s back pocket, stick it into a keychain or fit it in retractable reels or armbands. It can be a perfect promotional product but its use behind the bar is far-reaching. 

2. What is the circle part of a bar key for?

The circular end, for the untrained, is mainly for attaching the bar key to the keychain or the retractable reel. But to the trained, it can be used as an opener too. It may take practice but the circular hole is a lot cooler to use than the traditional end as it does not damage the popped bottle cap. 

3. What is the other end of a bar key for?

One end of the bar key has a circular hole while the other is designed to look like the conventional bottle opener we know of today. It has a lip to catch the edge of the bottle cap. 

Pull out your favorite bottle of beer from the cooler without drenching your hand in icy water by using the circular end of the bar key. This is the main function of that end that many do not know. 

The circular end of the bar key is also very good for adding flair to opening bottles. Why settle for bland when you can have a flourish? It can be used as a strainer. Prepare your cocktail with just the basics - shaker, knife, and serving glass.

More Opener Options

You might love the bullet bottle openers for a more badass option. This all-in-one tool will also help you open bottles more efficiently with its corkscrew, bottle opener, and foil cutter. Dazzle your guests and clients with the lovely wine bottle openers that will not only work efficiently but will also be a good conversation piece in home bars. 


Whatever you choose to be your bar opener should give you the ease with opening the bottles efficiently for better bar service. Most bartenders who do well with service usually get more tips. So, go on, flip off those beer caps, slide with a smile, and go on to the next customer. Efficiency and speed will earn you a good reputation and more importantly, more tips. Add a few flairs and tricks and voila! You're the next top bartender. 

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