20 Essential Bar Tools and Equipment

Author: May

Mar. 07, 2024

Machinery

Drinks are often the items with the highest profit margin in  any food business, and when it comes to alcoholic drinks, the profits are even higher.  As the pandemic taught us, alcohol sales rose significantly over the past two years, as did the numerous methods of getting liquor out to the masses.  Whether it was with online deliveries, curbside pick up or QR code pick up, people the world over made it clear that they needed or wanted alcoholic drinks to help get them through the crisis.

With high profit margins, and almost guaranteed success,  bars are making a quick comeback post-covid as people flock to socialize with friends once again. To help ensure the success of your bar, make sure that it is well-equipped with essential bar tools and equipment that can be used to create a diverse array of drinks to satisfy everyone from classic beer and whiskey lovers, to craft cocktail connoisseurs.

Here’s our list of the 20 most essential bar tools and equipment for your bar.

1. Ice Machines

Ice machines are a vital part of any food business – but especially for a bar. Ice and drinks go together –  it is the only way to cool drinks quickly in a shaker, to smooth out whiskey, and to make blended drinks. In short, ice is a must for every food and drink venue, and ice machines are essential for ensuring a constant supply of ice. While a small bar might consider ordering ice in bags and storing the bags in a freezer, there are numerous options available for purchasing all sizes and types of ice machines that will give you ice-on-demand, all day, every day at prices any bar owner can afford.

2. Ice Scoops

You will surely need an ice scoop for handling the ice that is so important for making and serving  drinks. Sanitary and break-resistant, using an ice scoop will make you look more professional as you slide ice into your cocktail shaker. While you could use the shaker itself to scoop out ice, the small investment in a scooper is well worth it.

4. Cocktail Shakers

Cocktail shakers are one of the most important bar tools for mixing in-house drinks. Both classic mixed drinks and cocktails are better when made using a cocktail shaker. Beyond the taste, using shakers also helps create the bar ambience by making the drink preparation process exciting for customers to see.  A shake here and a shake there makes magic happen in the hands of a professional bartender. Since cocktail shakers are so inexpensive, bars should keep several on hand, making it easy to prepare multiple drinks at once, while still having ample time to wash them out in between uses.

5. Beer Dispensers

Whether customers are watching football at the bar, or are out with  group of friends ,  the bar experience is not complete without a cold frothy beer.  Beer that is dispensed via a beer dispenser is the best way to achieve that goal.  Not only does beer-on-tap allow venues to sell more beer without taking up extra fridge space,  but purchasing kegs of beer as opposed to bottles is  also more  profitable. And while bottled beer can be an alternative solution to draft beer, customers usually prefer draft beer as it is more aromatic, has a smoother texture, and  has more carbonation.

6. Blenders

Blenders make all those wonderful, refreshing cocktails that customers love. From margaritas to daiquiris, drinks can be blended for a slushy texture and cooler product. For venues without crushed ice, blenders solve that problem by enabling bartenders to get the ice to just the right texture before using it in their drinks. Blenders can also be used to create drinks incorporated with herbs such as mint and basil, melding both the flavors and colors together.

7. Bottle Openers

Bottle openers are an obvious must-have tool for restaurants and bars. Having a good bottle opener will make your waiters’ and bartenders’ jobs easier. To get the most out of a bottle opener, make sure it can open beer bottles as well as wine bottles. Ideally, have enough on hand so each waiter can carry one around in order to make service as fast and comfortable as possible. Having a few extra  bottle openers will also ensure that you have enough back-ups on hand if one goes missing.

8. Bar Coolers

Storing all the drinks in a reach-in refrigerator is not very convenient for quick service. If the wait and bar staff have to walk into the kitchen area to complete each order, employees are bound to get in each other’s way. Additionally, storing all the drinks in the main refrigerator will take up valuable space. Having a bar cooler solves these problems. A dedicated bar cooler comfortably and conveniently refrigerates bottled drinks in an easily accessible location at the bar.

9. Jiggers

Small but highly purposeful,  it would be hard to find a professional bartender that doesn’t use jiggers for accurately measuring liquor while preparing mixed drinks or cocktails, Jiggers ensure that drinks use the same amount of liquor every time they are made, and just like a baker makes sure to use precise measuring tools for baking, a bartender will use jiggers to ensure consistent drinks every time.

10. Cocktail Strainers

Also known as Hawthorne strainers, or bar strainers, this clever bar tool captures and prevents any seeds, pulp, ice or other undesirable elements from escaping out of the cocktail shaker into the serving glass. You get all the flavors without the pieces with this nifty tool.

11. Muddlers

Many bartenders swear by the muddler. The muddler mashes herbs, sugar, fruit and even ice into drinks that require muddling for outstanding results.  From the Mojito to the Gin Gin Mule, many ingredients can be muddled into drinks including cucumber, mango, watermelon, oranges and etc. Simple to use, yet imperative to impart fresh delicious flavor in numerous drinks, muddlers are a must in any bar.

12. Lemon Squeezers

A lemon squeezer is simple but very beneficial bar tool that requires  a strong pressing motion  to add freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices to your cocktails and mixed drinks.  In some settings an electric juicer may be better as it allows for larger quantities of juice to be made,  however in many cases, a lemon squeezer may be good enough. Low in price, it  will be one of the most used bar tools you own, so it’s worth having a few in the bar area so every bartender can have their own.

13. Cutting Boards

Maybe you don’t think of this as a bar tool, but you’ll need one to cut  up lots of things as you prepare your mixed drinks and cocktails. From lemons and limes, from cucumbers to peaches, and don’t forget those herbs, your cutting board will be getting a lot of use at the bar. And, since you probably won’t be cutting up large quantities at a time, stick with a medium size cutting board that is easy to rinse off quickly in the sink. Some bartenders prefer wood and others plastic, so that decision is entirely up to your personal preferences.

14. Knives

The best knife for cutting up fruits and vegetables to add garnishes to your drinks is a paring knife. Versatile and terrific for bar use, paring knives can be used to peel and cut up everything needed for making the perfect cocktails – except perhaps, the herbs. For herbs a utility knife, chef knife or mincing knife will help you achieve the best results.

15. Liquor Pourers

Liquor pourers, speed pourers or pour spouts are placed in the neck of liquor bottles to offer precise control of the flow of liquor while pouring.  It also speeds up the pouring process as it allows bartenders to work quickly without losing valuable liquor while making mixed drinks.

16. Bar Spoons

Tall, slim and with twisted handles, the bar spoon is just about the best way to stir mixed drinks.  The tall length effortlessly reaches the bottom of the glass for touch-free, sanitary service, and the twirl structure of the handle makes it easy to mix in a circular motion, combining ingredients without breaking down the ice. Some bar spoons also have bowls at the end that can be used to  measure ingredients for cocktails, such as sugar, helping you eliminate other tools, such as measuring spoons.  They can also be used to layer drinks for added visual appeal.

17. Bar Towels

Look around any high-end bar and spotless is a word that will come to mind. Even though bars experience lots of spillage, high-end bartenders know that a sloppy bar area will  diminish the allure of their bar.  That’s where having absorbent, cotton bar towels  come in handy.  Even when spills occur, which is to be expected, wiping them up quickly will keep surfaces looking clean and hygienic and make any bar look far more appealing.

18. Speed Rails

Speed rails are a practical way to store liquor bottles and commonly used mixers right near the bartender so they can grab their most used liquors to make popular drinks. Speed rails can also prevent the  bottles from sliding off the bar as bartenders rush to get drinks out quickly to their waiting customers.

19. Bar Mats & Bar Shelf Liners

Bar mats and bar shelf liners are excellent ways to  dry your bar glassware safely — protecting the glass from chips and scratches.  They can be arranged in various ways on the bar area to  organize and arrange glassware.   Bar shelf liners can be cut to size to fit bar shelves.

20. Condiment Dispensers

Bartenders often prep garnishes before their shift, and store them in condiment dispensers with covers so they are safe from contaminants while being easy to access.  Useful for  keeping garnishes and condiments organized neatly at the bar,  condiment dispensers are another essential bar tool that helps streamline the drink making process.

While there are other bar supplies you will need for you bar including bar glassware, serving trays,  bar glass washers and more,  we started with this list of 20 items to help you on your way to starting a successful business. Wishing you much success!

Jigger? Check! Shaker? Got it. Here's what you need to be a mix master behind the bar

Tools don't make the bartender, but there's no denying that they make life a hell of a lot easier. Whether you're a bartending novice or a total pro, the best bar tools can help you mix, squeeze, strain and pour your way to better cocktails. We tapped some of the world's best bartenders to weigh in on the gadgets they can't live without – and they delivered with a wishlist of essential bar tools plus a few fancy splurges. From jiggers and shakers to juicers and a brûlée torch, these are the bar tools bartenders reach for again and again.

Some quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Thirsty for more insider insight from the world’s best bartenders? You’re in the right place. Talk to the Bartender! is a limited-edition weekly series that taps into the minds of drink pros around the globe. The conversation changes often, and we'll chat with bartenders about everything from underrated cocktails and must-have bottles to top drinking cities.

20 Essential Bar Tools and Equipment

15 absolutely essential bar tools, according to bartenders

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