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The Bar Necessities: Must-Have Bar Equipment

The shelves are lined with bottles, the coolers are stocked with beer and the kegs are primed and ready to pour. So what else does a bar need? The answer is plenty! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been running your establishment for years or you want to furnish a newly-opened watering hole, every bar should be on the lookout for good bar equipment and bar tools to keep it running smoothly. From bar mats to bottle openers, we’ve got you covered when it comes to stocking your bar with the necessities.

Bar mats - If behind the bar is the bartender’s playground, then think of the bar mat as the soft and safe rubbery ground. Bar mats are used as a grippy surface to hold glasses, bottles and ingredients while bartenders mix up cocktails, but they also catch liquid from spills that can be easily dumped into the sink during cleanup.

Bar spoons - Some cocktails are shaken while others are stirred. Get ahold of some long-handled spoons for the bartender’s arsenal so they can better prepare drinks. The long handles help reach the bottom of tall glasses, mugs or tumblers, and can be great for helping create layered effects in cocktails.

Bartender using a bar spoon to stir cocktail.Beverage refrigerators - Is it silly to list the obvious? Ok, so you know you need a way to keep your bottled beer and other drinks cold, but the type(s) of beverage fridge you get can vary depending on the situation. Like what? Well, are you going to want to keep your wines at a different temperature than your beer? Hint: you should.

Blender - The best piña coladas are made with a blender. Of course other cocktails benefit as well, but you can also use it to crush ice or puree fruits and other ingredients.

Bottle openers - Every bar should have a few. Even if your specialty is craft beer on tap, most bars carry bottles of some variety, so having extra openers won’t go astray. Long ones might be harder to misplace, but nailing a couple to the wall works too.

Cocktail rail - Also known as the more affordable bottles in liquor lingo, a cocktail rail is used to hold the most frequently used bottles, so a bartender has quick access to the liquors for common drink orders or those needed for specials on a particular evening.

Cocktail shakers - The cornerstone of the cocktail making kit, shakers come in many shapes and sizes. Used to obviously “shake” up and mix cocktails, they also chill and/or dilute drinks quickly if needed. The most common are the Boston and Cobbler styles, but make sure you have a few larger ones on hand to mix up larger volume orders of 2 or 3 cocktails at once.

Cocktail strainer - Some cocktails require ingredients for flavor (or ice cubes for chilling) that shouldn’t be added to the glass itself after mixing. That’s where the strainer comes in. Some shakers might come with them, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few extra.

Corkscrews - Whether you go automatic, mechanical, or good old fashioned elbow grease (that’s manual), you’d best have a few corkscrew openers on hand. Make sure you get quality ones that minimize cork crumbling and that can be cleaned easily.

Cutting boards - You’ll need a few of these for the tens of thousands of lemon, orange and lime slices you’ll be cutting. Wood looks great in a home kitchen, but it’s best to get a non-slip industrial one for your bar. It will help keep knives sharp, prevent slippage and won’t soak up any stains or smells over time.

Jigger - This little double-sided hourglass helps portion your alcohol and prevent waste. Typically they have a 1oz and 2oz side, but you can get them in different sizes for doing larger batch mixing. They go hand in hand with pourers.

A jigger pouring alcohol into a glass.Pourer - To free pour or not to free pour? While the question remains in the air (and if you’re more concerned with accuracy than showmanship), pick up some pourers to attach to your liquor bottles. These little devices help accurately portion out your alcohol for drinks and cocktails. They go hand in hand with jiggers.

Floor mats - Not only do they provide a soft cushion for the weary feet of bartenders and staff working long hours, but they also help prevent slips or falls due to spillage on the floor.

Glassware - Variety is the spice of life and there’s plenty of variety in alcohol! You’ll want the proper vessel to serve up your drinks, so stock up highball, rocks, collins, martini, margarita, coupe, wine, beer, shot glasses and champagne flutes.

Glass racks - Keep your liquor, wine and beer glasses secure and safe from cracks, chips and shatters. A couple good glass racks—including one to hang overhead, for lesser-used containers—will help keep the bar glassware organized and less apt to end up broken by a swinging elbow.

An overhead glass rack of wine glasses.Glass washer - An industrial glass washer built specifically for bars can help your staff keep up with the demand on a busy night.

Ice machines - You'll need ice for pretty much every drink that isn't already bottled or ordered neat. Industrial ice machines create big batches so you'll always have some on hand. While you're at it, pick up a couple ice buckets for the main and service bars so bartenders don't have to run to the machine every time they need ice.

Muddler - The muddler has been the sidekick to many a Mojito, Mint Julep and Old Fashioned, but there’s plenty of other drinks and cocktails that require a muddler. They help to break up drink ingredients and bring out the flavors of herbs, spices and seasonings.

Peeler - The peeler shines in making your orange garnish and lemon zest, so you’ll need a couple to make sure your cocktails always look (and taste) professional. 

A bartender using a peeler to peel an orange.Point of Sale system - It might seem like we're going off script here, but one of the best pieces of equipment you can get for your bar is a point of sale system. POS systems aren't just convenient for your bar, but can help improve your business metrics.

Rimmer - Margaritas and Bloody Marys rejoice! The rimmer is used to add some spice and flavor around the glass rim and it’s just much easier to use a rimmer than trying to sprinkle it over a wet rim by hand.

Service mats - The landing pad for fresh and ready-to-serve drinks, the service mat holds glasses, mugs and bottles safely until a server can pick them up to deliver to tables. They also help reduce spillage and from glasses being knocked over accidentally.

Toothpicks - Not just to look cool hanging out of one’s mouth, toothpicks are the hygienic way your bartender will add olives to martinis and other garnishes to cocktails.

Towels - To clean up spills, wipe hands, dry glasses and pat down your sweaty brow after a hard day's work.

Brent Gladney


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