Restaurant Bar Equipment Checklist

Everything You Need to Open a Restaurant Bar

Cocktails have great profit margins
Part of opening a new restaurant is outfitting the bar. Robert Owen-Wahl via Pixabay

When you are getting ready to open a new restaurant, you soon find out that there are a million things to buy. Between designing the dining room and equipping the kitchen, you can (and will) spend a small fortune. Just when you think you are done, you remember The Bar! There are many kinds of restaurant bars, including full service where customers can sit and have a meal along with a cocktail, or a limited service bar, where servers make their own drinks and there is no direct customer service.

No matter which route you choose, if you plan to serve alcohol beyond wine and beer, you'll need to invest in outfitting the bar, which can upwards of a few thousand dollars, or more, depending on how Top Shelf you want to go. I've broken down the basics of liquor, refrigeration, and other equipment.  

Basic Liquors

Here is a list of the basic liquor most restaurant bars carry. Liquors come in three varieties:

• Well (cheap)

• Call (Moderate)

• Top Shelf (expensive)

Here are the most common hard liquors that you will find in nearly every restaurant bar:

• Vodka
• Gin
• Tequila
• Whiskey
• Scotch
• Bourbon
• Rum

Coolers & Refrigeration

Look for refrigerators and coolers that have the Energy Star efficiency seal. These models use up to 45% less energy than other models, saving you money on your utility bill.

• Reach in cooler

• Wine Cooler

• Keg storage

• Beer taps

• Glycol system


A lot of smaller equipment for the bar can be purchased used with little to no worries.

POS System
• Bar stools
• TV System
• Music System
• Ice bin
• Ice Scoop (never leave scoop in the bin)
• Liquor well
• Blenders
• Frozen drink machine
• Soda gun
• Cocktail shakers and strainers
• Speed bottles
• Pour tops
• Garnish bins for lemons, limes, orange slices, cherries,olives, or any other items to dress up a cocktail 
• Glass racks
• Corkscrews
• 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 away beer glasses and other bar supplies as promotional gifts.

• Wine glasses

• Jiggers

• Shot glasses

• Pilsner glasses

• Pint glasses

• Champagne glasses

• Martini glasses

• Brandy snifters

• Highball glasses

A well-stocked bar is a great way to increase profits, as there is little overhead for mixing drinks and alcohol has a very long shelf life. Alcohol sales can help offset higher priced menu items like fresh seafood or expensive cuts of beef.  Keep in mind that not everyone is cut out to be a bartender; when hiring a bartender, be sure to check references and choose the best person possible. Otherwise, it won't matter how well-stocked bar is.