There’s this psychological concept that claims that the more you know about a topic, the less confident in your knowledge of that topic you are likely to be. And this phenomenon generally starts soon after you decide to take the plunge and learn more about a new interest or subject. You gain this sudden understanding of just how much more to this thing there is than you originally thought, and your choices are to pause and reassess, push forward, or drop everything and run.
This concept absolutely applies to many new bar and restaurant owners. Successful restaurateurs work hard to create an illusion of glamor and ease within their establishment so patrons don’t notice just how many messy moving parts are involved. So would-be bar and restaurant owners are sometimes shocked by just how many bits and pieces go into the making of a really great spot.
Lucky for them, those giants that have thus far paved the way are willing to share what they’ve learned, with a special nod to the tools of the trade. Here is a checklist of bar tools, equipment, and their uses to help you put your place together.
Essential bar equipment for your business
Depending on the kind of establishment you’re running, you might not have a use for all bar tools and equipment. This bar tools list aims to incorporate only the most important bartending tools and bar equipment, i.e. the bar tools and equipment you really, really need – with a few nice-to-haves thrown in for fun. Let’s dive in.
Must have cocktail making and bartending equipment
Glassware. Besides the drink itself, the thing you serve it in is probably the most critical piece of equipment in a bar or restaurant. And you can go either very basic or very niche with the glasses (or red plastic cups, as the case may be) you have available depending on the style of your bar or restaurant, but you have to have something.
We recommend making a list of all the drinks you’d like to serve at your bar and doing a deep-dive into their traditional serving glasses to get an idea of what you should stock.
Bartending tools and accessories. A really good bartender can make a world-class cocktail without specialized bar mixing tools like ice shavers, smoke guns, and 10 in 1 bartending tools - but that doesn’t mean they like doing it. Plus, patrons always enjoy getting to witness the process of a dramatic shake-and pour.
Here are a few critical pieces of bar equipment and tools with their uses alongside.
Cocktail shaker: a lidded metal container that allows bartenders to vigorously mix ingredients for a more well-incorporated cocktail.
Muddler: a stick used to crush something like herbs, spices, or fruit to release their flavors into a cocktail.
Strainer: an essential cocktail tool that allows bartenders to strain pulp, excess botanicals, and ice from a newly-prepared drink.
Jigger: a measuring implement allowing bartenders to accurately add precise amounts of alcohol and other ingredients to a cocktail.
Wine opener: this bar tool's name speaks for itself – an implement for removing the corks from wine bottles; this tool often has an additional attachment useful for opening beer bottles.
Bar spoon: a long-handled straight spoon used for precise pouring, swizzling, and stirring (take that, James Bond!)
Takeout supplies. To-go containers and cutlery are generally reserved for food items. But in some states, patrons can get pre-made cocktails to go from their favorite bars and restaurants. If your establishment is in one of these states, consider offering takeout Toddys etc. to your loyal customers. This will include cups, lids, straws, and takeout ramekins.
Essential beverages and beverage dispensing bar equipment
We’re all very familiar with these bar tools and equipment and their uses. Although we rarely think of the product itself as equipment, it is nonetheless absolutely essential. Here are some liquid assets you should keep in stock.
Hard liquor and liqueurs. Essentials include vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and tequila. Liqueurs include amaretto, vermouth, coffee, and orange.
Beer and wine. Ensure a selection of the basics in either category: accessible reds, whites, and roses for wine, with ales and lagers in equal distribution for the beer.
Non-alcoholic mixers. Mixers should include tonic, seltzer, cranberry, orange, and grapefruit juice, ginger ale, cola, grenadine, and cream, among others.
Garnishes. Critical garnishes are limes, lemons, cherries, salt, celery, olives, and cocktail onions.
Bar POS system
Your Point of Sale system not only helps you ring up customers and keep track of the cost of beverages and other edible items, but is also the medium through which you can plan inventory and budget. Some bar owners are committed to a more vintage method of money processing, but seriously, if you don’t already have a POS, now is the time to get one. Especially a modern, streamline POS will help you to serve customers faster and with greater accuracy on a busy weekend night.
Essential bar furniture and other equipment
Beyond your bar counter, it’s really up to you what kind of furnishings will best support the environment you’re trying to create. If your bar is a little on the divey side, some stools, standing tables, and a big TV monitor will do the trick. Lush cocktail lounges might decide that velvet couches and a gas fireplace are “essential” furnishings. You get the idea.
Beyond aesthetics, here are a few pieces of critical furniture you do truly need – whether you’re a dive, or an exclusive nightclub.
Refrigeration stations including kegerators, horizontal bottle coolers, wine coolers, garnish coolers, storage coolers, and swing-door coolers for merch and back-bar display.
Safety equipment including floor mats, rags, mops, brooms, etc.
Prep and storage equipment including speed rails, liquor dispensers, ice makers, blenders, coffee makers, racks, spray nozzles, sinks, et al.
Where to find equipment for your bar or restaurant
The infrastructural equipment including tools, glasses, etc. can typically be found at kitchen and bar wholesalers near you. You can also visit auctions, thrift stores, and estate sales to find unique pieces that will give your spot a little something extra.
Alcohol, mixers, and other ingredients can be ordered through suppliers. Learn more in our other post: Alcohol Supplier 101.
Provi can help
Keeping track of everything you need to keep a bar or restaurant running day-to-day can be exhausting. But Provi is here to help. While we might not be able to source your vintage marble for your new bar counter, we can help you to track your inventory like never before with an integrated POS system, order tracking, and all your suppliers available in a single sheet. With Provi, you can get through inventory quickly so you can focus on the things that matter – creating a welcoming environment for your patrons. Sign up for free today to see what Provi has to offer.