Bar Essentials Buying Guide

Bar Essentials Buying Guide

Suppose you're trying to stock a new high-quality restaurant bar, or outfitting some other food service business with a full bar installation. What tends to go into that kind of process? What do you need to make sure that your staff members are fully supported to be ready to go on day one? We know, because we have actual restaurant experience and bartending skills built on hands-on work serving customers in a bar environment. Take a look at some of the essentials that you will be looking for in order to fully stock and supply your brand-new bar.

Coolers and Containers

We’re not going to weigh in on your liquor, wine or beer choices – that's up to you. However, you will need some specific equipment to store all of your libations for eventually ending up in the glass. One resource to go to is our detailed guides on direct draw beer systems and on-site keg coolers that will keep beer from getting warm and heady while it's served. Aside from that, you want to get the best quality liquors and some rails to keep these items near your bartending staff. You’ll want coolers that are at the right height, and the right shape and size, so that your bartenders can easily grab and pour. This is not a minor detail! Just ask someone who does a full shift.

Drink Ingredients

Going along with your liquor list, you’ll want to get as many of the stock ingredients in cocktail drinks as you can. Triple sec, grenadine and bitters are three that usually come to mind, but you can also look for signature ingredients offering the tastes of items like coconut, lime or other citrus fruits. Look to group your bottles together based on what bartenders will use, and buy for immediate use according to your rails space.

Garnish Stations and Rimmers

For some of the other elements of your cocktails that typically get displayed above the rim, you'll want professional-looking garnish stations, and rimmers for getting rim salt onto a glass. Garnish stations usually house items like maraschino cherries and olives, although you may also want to add small tomatoes or anything else with which to garnish drinks. Distinguish yourself from the competition with melon balls or other exotic ingredients (here we give a shout-out to Guy Fieri for his endorsement of a Thornton melon baller!)

Pourers and Shakers

Some other gear that you'll want includes the shakers that help your bartending staff to mix ingredients, and pourers that help with spill prevention when bartenders are hopping. You may also want a little something called a muddler that helps move ingredients around until they are carefully blended, or an actual blender for some more stubborn ingredients. Don't forget also to stock up on corkscrews and bottle openers, so you can get to the drinks inside the bottles when it's time to pour! Quality is key here, because when your bar is open, and the drinks orders are coming in, time is of the essence.

Bar Mats

Yes, the bar mat is a pretty iconic piece of the bartending puzzle. Getting quality bar mats allows you to keep glasses in play without standing water going all over the block. You also want adequate glass racks to keep glasses in as they go to and from the dishwasher. Think of this as an important part of your supply chain – because in a way, a busy and successful bar is a little like a manufacturing line. The tools simply need to be there.


In any guide to supplying the bar, you can't leave out the glassware. Highball, hurricane, Collins, martini – rocks glass, zombie glass, margarita glass… All of these are part of the bartender’s stock setup. You can also opt to get a number of copper mugs for serving drinks like the Moscow Mule, where the copper mug keeps cocktails nicely chilled. Check out our guide on how to purchase these mugs with linings and other features that will help them to last longer behind your bar.

Food Trays

Suppose you will be serving pub fare or other snacks with your drinks. You may want to invest in some high-quality baskets or cones for your appetizers and small orders. All of this gear is vital for your bartending kitchen, and will come in handy as you open up for visitors. If it all sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry – to some extent, you will always be learning as you go. But by carefully considering each of these categories of bar essentials, you’ll be making sure you open up with your best foot forward, and your people will look like they know their stuff. Bon Voyage!

For more, check out all of our resources at Chefs’ Toys, where we are proud of being “for chefs, by chefs.” Our real restaurant and bar experience gives us a competitive edge in helping to supply food services businesses of all kinds with the high-quality gear they need to open strong, and stay open, with a kitchen that can deliver.