Bars service equipment

Restaurant Bars

Restaurant bars come in all shapes, sizes, and themes. You can feature a full service where customers can sit and even enjoy a meal along with a cocktail, or you might settle on a limited service bar where servers make their own drinks and deliver them to tables.

There’s no direct customer service between a bartender and your guests.

You’ll have to invest in outfitting the bar whichever route you choose, at least if you plan on serving any alcohol other than wine and beer. This can mean an investment of a few thousand dollars or more depending on how top-shelf you want to go. Some liquor, refrigeration, and other equipment needs are must-haves.
Basic Liquor Needs

First, the liquor. Keep in mind that liquors come in three distinct qualities and you’ll probably want to keep all three in stock for each liquor you serve:

Well (cheap)
Call (moderate)
Top Shelf (expensive)

These are the most common hard liquors you’ll find in nearly every restaurant bar:


Coolers and Refrigeration

Look for refrigerators and coolers that have the Energy Star efficiency seal. These models use up to 45 percent less energy than most other models so they’ll save you some money on your utility bill.

You’ll need:

A reach-in cooler
Wine Cooler
Keg storage
Beer taps
Glycol system

Other Equipment

A lot of smaller equipment for the bar can be purchased in used condition with little or no worries, including:

POS system
Bar stools
TV System
Music system
Ice bin
Ice scoop
Liquor well
Frozen drink machine

Soda gun
Cocktail shakers and strainers
Speed bottles
Pour tops
Garnish bins for lemons, limes, orange slices, cherries, olives, or other items to dress up cocktails
Glass racks
Bottle opener
Paring knives
Cutting boards
Glass mats
Ice buckets marked for “Ice Only”
Washing racks
Hand sink
Soap/sanitizer dispenser
Paper towel dispenser
Sanitizer buckets
Cleaning rags
Rubber floor mats


Ask your beverage sales rep about free glasses. Many distributors give them and other bar supplies for free as promotional gifts. This can go a long way when you’re just getting started.

Wine glasses
Shot glasses
Pilsner glasses
Pint glasses
Champagne glasses
Martini glasses
Brandy snifters
Highball glasses

The Bottom Line

A well-stocked bar is a great way to increase profits. There’s little overhead involved in mixing drinks and alcohol has a very long shelf life. Alcohol sales can help offset your margin on higher priced menu items like fresh seafood or expensive cuts of beef.

And keep in mind that not everyone is cut out to be a bartender. Be sure to check references and choose the best person possible when you’re hiring. Otherwise, it won’t matter how well-stocked your bar is.