Essential Bar Setup And Equipment


Essential Bar Setup And Equipment

The difference between a good and a great bar comes down to how it is set up. With a smart setup, you can serve Guests quicker and more efficiently, and prevent your bar from becoming a mess. Another thing that separates the greats from the ordinary is the bar setup and equipment used behind the bar, and of course, how well you know how to use the equipment. In this post, we will go through the basic bar setup and equipment list.

Basic Bar Setup And Equipment List

The bar station is the physical area where you will be working behind the bar. Because you will be mixing cocktails and preparing garnishes at your station before, during, and after service, this area will need to be set up immediately. An efficient set-up station will be organized in a way that keeps the most commonly used tools and ingredients nearby. Organizing your station in this way will ensure that you can prepare drinks quickly and efficiently, even when you are in a rush. The golden rule for setup is that you should be able to make 90% of all drinks on your menu by only having to take a maximum of one step from your station. Let’s have a look into the essential bar setup and equipment your bar needs to have for a smooth operation:

1. Bar Display – Beverages And Bottles Of Spirit Display

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You can’t have a proper bar if the bottles of spirit display are missing from your bar setup and equipment. Your bar display should look full, fancy, and rich in a way that tells your Guests that you have all types of spirits and other beverages. Group similar drinks together, like putting all the beers in one place and all the whiskies in another. Use good shelves and lights to make the drinks easy to see and look nice. Put labels or signs so people know what each drink is. Shortly, you need to make a great bar display that makes people want to come to your bar and try different drinks!

2. Under-counter Bar Refrigerator

bar-undercounter-fridge Essential Bar Setup And Equipment

As we said above by following the golden rule of making 90% of all drinks by only having to take a maximum of one step, well having under-counter refrigerators is a big help and is very essential when it comes to bar setup and equipment. An under-counter bar refrigerator is important for your bar setup and equipment because it keeps all your drinks nice and cold. Also, since it goes under the counter, it doesn’t take up much space. In a busy hotel bar, space is valuable. You can use the top of the counter for serving drinks and the bottom for storing them in the fridge. With the fridge right under the counter, bartenders can quickly grab drinks they need without having to walk to a distant fridge. This makes serving guests faster and more efficient.

3. Glassware

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Oh yeah, you know, glassware! Obviosity is another essential item that is part of bar setup and equipment and you can’t run an operation without it. Glassware is what you serve drinks in, like beer mugs, wine glasses, or cocktail glasses. Different drinks taste better in different types of glasses. For example, wine tastes better in a wine glass, and cocktails look fancier in cocktail glasses. The right glass makes the drink look more appealing. Imagine a colorful cocktail served in a fancy glass with a garnish—it looks more attractive and tempting. This presentation can make customers excited to try the drink. Having a variety of glassware allows you to serve different types of drinks properly.

Make sure that your bar has the following glass types:

  1. Highball glasses for mixed drinks like cocktails and long drinks
  2. Rocks glasses (Old Fashioned Glass) for spirits served over ice or neat
  3. Martini glasses for cocktails like martinis, espresso martinis, etc…
  4. Margarita Glass: Wide-rimmed, stemmed glass used for serving margaritas and other frozen cocktails.
  5. Collins Glass: Tall, narrow glass used for serving cocktails with a larger volume, such as Tom Collins or Mojitos
  6. Hurricane Glass: Tall, curvy glass used for tropical and fruity cocktails like hurricanes and piña coladas.
  7. Snifter Glass: Short-stemmed glass with a wide bowl, used for serving brandy, cognac, or other aromatic spirits.
  8. Cocktail Coupe: Vintage-style glass with a shallow, rounded bowl, used for serving classic cocktails like daiquiris and sidecars.
  9. Mason Jar: Rustic-style glass jar used for serving cocktails, such as Moscow Mule or fruity concoctions.
  10. Champagne Flute: Tall, narrow glass with a long stem, designed to preserve the bubbles in champagne and sparkling wines.
  11. Pint Glass: Standard glass for serving beer, commonly used for ales, lagers, and stouts
  12. Pilsner Glass: Tall, tapered glass with a narrow base and wider top, ideal for serving pilsner and other light beers.
  13. Wine glasses for serving wine
  14. Shot glasses for measuring and serving shots

4. Drinks – Spirits, Beers, Other Beverages And Mixers

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You work and have a bar to sell drinks to your Guests but If you don’t have drinks to sell, what for you need the bar? Having a proper bar means having a good selection of spirits, beverages, and cocktails which requires mixers. This ensures that you can make a wide variety of drinks, from classic cocktails to refreshing mocktails, catering to the preferences of all your guests. Let’s have a look below into some of the spirits, beverages, and mixers you need to fully operate your bar:

Spirits: These are the alcoholic drinks that form the base of most cocktails. Examples include:

  • Vodka: Used in many classic cocktails like the Martini or Bloody Mary.
  • Rum: Essential for drinks like the Mojito or Piña Colada.
  • Whiskey: Used in drinks like the Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour.
  • Gin: Key ingredient in cocktails like the Gin and Tonic or Martini.
  • Tequila: Essential for Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises.
  • Brandy: Used in classics like the Sidecar or Brandy Alexander.

Liqueurs: They may be served straight, poured over ice, or mixed in an endless variety of combinations that may include liquors, brandies, and cream:

  • Triple Sec: Used in many classic cocktails like Margaritas and Sidecars, Triple Sec is an essential citrus-flavored liqueur.
  • Campari: A bitter Italian liqueur, essential for classics like the Negroni and the Americano.
  • Amaretto: A sweet almond-flavored liqueur, perfect for adding depth and sweetness to cocktails like the Amaretto Sour or the Godfather.
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream: A creamy and rich liqueur that’s perfect for dessert cocktails or simply enjoyed on its own.
  • Cointreau: Another orange-flavored liqueur, similar to Triple Sec but with a higher quality and smoother taste. Essential for cocktails like the Cosmopolitan.
  • Kahlúa: A coffee-flavored liqueur that’s essential for classics like the White Russian and Espresso Martini.
  • Grand Marnier: An orange-flavored liqueur made from a blend of Cognac and distilled essence of bitter orange. Perfect for sipping neat or in cocktails like the Grand Margarita.
  • And more depending on your bar’s menu.

Other Beverages: These are non-alcoholic drinks that are used as mixers or served on their own. Examples include:

  • Soda Water: Used to add fizz to drinks like the Tom Collins or Vodka Soda.
  • Tonic Water: Essential for the Gin and Tonic.
  • Cola: Used in drinks like Rum and Coke or Long Island Iced Tea.
  • Fruit Juices: Such as orange juice for Screwdrivers or cranberry juice for Cosmopolitans.
  • Club Soda: Often used as a mixer in various cocktails.
  • Ginger Beer: Used in drinks like the Moscow Mule or Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

Mixers: These are ingredients used to complement and enhance the flavors of spirits and cocktails. Examples include:

  • Simple Syrup: Used to sweeten cocktails like Mojitos or Daiquiris.
  • Vermouth: Essential for drinks like the Martini or Manhattan.
  • Bitters: Used to add depth of flavor to cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
  • Grenadine: Sweet syrup used in cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise or Shirley Temple.
  • Triple Sec: Orange-flavored liqueur used in drinks like Margaritas or Cosmopolitans.
  • Cream: Used in creamy cocktails like the White Russian or Brandy Alexander.
  • Other syrups depending on your bar’s menu.

Beers: Make sure your bar has draught beer available (at least 3 types) and other bottled beers such as pilsner, stout, lager, and local options as well

5 – Garnish Center And Garnishes

Garnish-center-for-bar-setup Essential Bar Setup And Equipment
Image From Bar Products

Garnishes are also very important to bar setup and equipment because they make drinks look more attractive and appealing. A colorful fruit wedge or a neatly twisted citrus peel can make a cocktail look more enticing, encouraging people to order it. Garnishes can add aromatic elements to a drink. For example, a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon releases its scent when placed in or near a drink, enhancing the overall drinking experience. Some garnishes contribute to the flavor of the drink. For instance, a twist of citrus peel can release its oils into the drink, adding a hint of citrus flavor. Similarly, olives in a martini or cocktail onions in a Gibson provide an additional flavor element. Whenever you are doing preopening of a bar don’t forget to include in the list of bar setup and equipment the garnish center. Let’s have a look below at the most important garnishes that your bar needs to have:

  1. Citrus Wedges/Slices: Lemons, limes, and oranges are important garnishes used in a wide range of cocktails. They can be used as a simple garnish, as well as to add a burst of citrus flavor to drinks.
  2. Citrus Twists: Strips of citrus peel twisted over a drink to release their essential oils. They add aroma and flavor, as well as an elegant touch to cocktails. Common twists include lemon, lime, and orange.
  3. Maraschino Cherries: These bright red cherries are a classic garnish for cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. They add a pop of color and a sweet flavor to drinks.
  4. Olives: Essential for garnishing martinis and other savory cocktails like the Dirty Martini, olives add a briny flavor and a sophisticated touch to drinks.
  5. Cocktail Onions: Used primarily in cocktails like the Gibson, cocktail onions add a tangy and savory flavor to drinks.
  6. Mint Sprigs: Fresh mint sprigs are commonly used to garnish cocktails like the Mojito and the Mint Julep. They add a refreshing aroma and a hint of mint flavor.
  7. Celery Sticks: Often used as a garnish for Bloody Mary cocktails, celery sticks add a crunchy texture and a vegetal flavor to drinks.
  8. Cucumber Slices: A versatile garnish for cocktails like the Pimm’s Cup or the Gin and Tonic, cucumber slices add a refreshing and crisp element to drinks.
  9. Pineapple Wedges: Perfect for tropical cocktails like the Piña Colada or the Mai Tai, pineapple wedges add a sweet and tropical flavor to drinks.
  10. Herbs (Basil, Rosemary, etc.): Fresh herbs can add a unique and aromatic touch to cocktails. Basil, rosemary, and thyme are commonly used for garnishing and flavoring drinks.
  11. And more depending on your bar’s menu

6. POS System

industry-bar-beer-taps-terminal-front Essential Bar Setup And Equipment
Image From Ideal Pos

A bartender apart from making and serving drinks at the bar counter, needs to charge and present the bill to the guests. To do so, he needs to have a POS system (A point-of-sale) inside the bar where the bartender doesn’t need to leave his workplace and come back as will be a waste of time in a busy operation. Make sure you have installed a POS inside the bar to make the operation smoother.

7. Underbar Ice Bin And Ice Machine

Bar-counter-with-spirit-handl Essential Bar Setup And Equipment
Image From Regency Equipment

Underbar ice bins provide a convenient and easily accessible storage solution for ice. This ensures that bartenders can quickly and efficiently access ice during service without having to move to a separate ice machine. Underbar ice bins are designed to fit seamlessly into the layout of a bar, maximizing space efficiency. They can be placed directly under the bar counter, saving valuable space behind the bar area. These bins typically come as well with lids or covers to protect the ice from contaminants when not in use. This helps maintain hygiene standards and ensures the ice remains clean and safe for consumption. Your bar should also have an ice machine at the back of the house for ice production. In case not you will not purchase ice from outside. Make sure that you will have both ice cubes and crushed ice at the beginning of the operation till the closing of the bar as ice is one of the most important “ingredients” that you will need.

8. Dishwashing Equipment

bar-dishwasher Essential Bar Setup And Equipment
Image From Webstaurantstore

The dishwashing machine can’t be missed from the bar setup and equipment. The dishwashing machine ensures that your glasses, cups, and utensils are clean and ready to use. Nobody wants to drink from a dirty glass, so keeping everything clean is important for guest satisfaction. Having dishwashing equipment under the bar is another important part of a bar setup and equipment because, with it, bartenders can wash glasses right where they are without needing to leave their station. It saves time and effort since they don’t have to walk to a separate area to clean glasses. With the dishwasher nearby, bartenders can quickly clean glasses between serving customers. This means they can keep up with demand during busy times without causing delays.

9. Electric Drink Preparation Equipment

By Bar equipment, we don’t mean bar tools such as shakers, jiggers, openers, etc… We mean heaver and bigger items that you need to operate normally in a bar, equipment such as:

  • Juice Extractor
  • Coffee Machine
  • Blender
  • Others, depending on the capacity and functionality of the bar

10. Bar Mats and Bar Towels

Bar mats and bar towels are both important for keeping the bar area clean and organized. Mats catch spills and protect the counter, while towels help bartenders clean up messes and keep glassware shining.

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Bar Mats: These are rubber mats that are placed on the bar counter. They serve a few purposes:

  • They provide a non-slip surface, so glasses and bottles won’t slide around.
  • They catch spills and drips from drinks, preventing them from running all over the counter.
  • They protect the bar surface from scratches and damage caused by glassware and bar tools.
  • They make cleaning up spills easier since you can just wipe or rinse off the mat instead of having to clean the entire bar counter.
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Bar Towels: These are absorbent towels used by bartenders to wipe down surfaces, clean spills, and polish glassware. They’re important because:

  • They help maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the bar area by quickly wiping up spills and messes.
  • They ensure that glasses are properly dried and polished before use, preventing water spots and streaks.
  • They’re versatile tools that can be used for various cleaning tasks throughout the bar, from wiping down counters to cleaning spills on the floor.

11. Bar Counter Decor

Add some personality to your bar with decorative elements such as:

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  • Cocktail napkins
  • Bar tools such as shakers, muddlers, jiggers etc…
  • Draught beer pourer
  • Coasters
  • Bar mats
  • Bar towels
  • Decorative bottles
  • Plants or flowers
  • Ashtrays if a smoking place

12. Bar And Bartender Tools

We will discuss in another post with more details for all the bartender tools that you need to heave in Bars In the meanwhile, the most important bar tools are as below:

  1. Shakers: Used for mixing cocktails by shaking ingredients together. It typically consists of a metal or glass base, a strainer, and a lid.
  2. Strainer: A tool used to strain out ice and other solid ingredients from mixed drinks. There are different types such as Hawthorne strainers and fine mesh strainers.
  3. Bar Spoon: A long-handled spoon used for stirring cocktails, layering drinks, and measuring ingredients.
  4. Jigger: A small measuring device with two cones or cups of different sizes on each end. It’s used for accurately measuring and pouring liquor and other ingredients.
  5. Muddler: A tool used for mashing fruits, herbs, and spices in the bottom of a glass or shaker to release flavors.
  6. Ice Scoop/Tongs: Used for handling ice cubes or crushed ice when making drinks.
  7. Cutting Board and Knife: For cutting fruits, garnishes, and other ingredients.
  8. Speed Pourers: These attach to the top of liquor bottles to control the flow of liquid when pouring.
  9. Ice Bucket: Used for holding ice, keeping it easily accessible for making drinks.
  10. Mallet or Lewis Bag: For crushing ice cubes into crushed ice, commonly used in drinks like Mojitos or Mint Juleps.
  11. Cocktail Straws and Stirrers: Small straws or stirrers used for stirring drinks and sipping.
  12. Misting Bottle: Used for spraying a fine mist of water or other liquids over drinks to enhance aromas or create special effects.

Well, this post is coming to an end and we hope you got all the information in regards to all the essential bar setup and equipment you need in a bar.

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The founder and owner of Hotels & Hoteliers. A hotelier with over 15 years of experience working in different international branded Hotels. My Expertise is mainly in Food & Beverages and Front Office.


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