Organising large bar equipment for a new establishment can be a really stressful ordeal. Sorting out the bar furniture and aesthetic is hard enough, you don't need this too! What do you get and why do you need that piece of bar equipment? You need a bar equipment list!

Cut through all of the confusion and concern with our ultimate bar equipment checklist including...

  • Soda gun system

  • Draft system

  • Fridges 

  • Freezers

  • Glass washers 

  • Ice machine 

1. Soda gun system

For those bars that experience moderate to high volumes of customers, the soda gun is an essential piece of kit. Having bartenders constantly pouring from glass bottles or cans is a time consuming and waste producing exercise. They're already making 300+ mixed drinks a night, there's no time for bottle caps! Make life easier for your bartenders by investing in one of these handy systems.

In terms of providers, there are only a few worldwide brands that provide these systems and the products. The main decision you face is deciding which brand to go with. Normally, they provide incentives to have you dispense their products, like free installation, maintenance or even leasing deals. Take care when looking into soda gun systems, it pays to choose quality.

2. Draught system

Beer Varieties

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones that has a natural cellar to serve your draught beer from, you’ll need a draught system. This piece of essential bar equipment comes under the catchy name of 'beverage dispensing bar equipment', if you're wondering what to google.

The system’s size will depend upon how many draught beverages you plan on serving. Having at least one option of draught beverage is considered to be part of the bartender basics

There are two types of draught system that you can choose from: kegerator and keg system. Kegerators range in size from a single working tap for a 1/6 keg, up to a four-tap system connected to half-sized barrels. These are great if you’re operating out of a small location, as they are very space-friendly. 

For bars with a bit more room, there’s the keg system. It will need to be installed and have a cooling system, unless you want that precious beer to go bad quickly. This type of draught system needs a glycol system, a piece of bar equipment that cools alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Beers will be served ice cold with minimal foam and wastage. Perfect! 

3. Fridges

bottles in bar fridge

This piece of large bar equipment has the potential to eat up a lot of space, so the amount of room you have in the bar will determine the size. But don't take refrigeration and cold storage lightly, it's a necessity.

The two choices of fridge available are display fridges and storage fridges. Display fridges have glass doors, allowing you to display your goods to the customers. Here you can neatly and aesthetically organise wines, beer bottles and cans of soft drinks for your customers’ pleasure. The storage fridges usually come with a solid door, so any pre-prepped products are out of the customer’s sight.

For bars with very limited space behind the bar, a backup cold storage might be the best option. This means installing the fridge somewhere behind the bar, so the cold drinks can continue to flow smoothly. 

4. Freezers

At number 4 on our bar equipment list are freezers. They're not always necessary in a bar, but if you're operating a venue with a kitchen, then you should have access to a small amount of freezer space in your kitchen.

Freezers are mainly used behind the bar for storing products that will otherwise go bad, as well as ice, of course. Some will actually have freezers behind their bar to store glassware for the service, providing that extra cold touch.

It might be desirable to chill your bar glasses for your bartenders, saving them time in the chaos of a busy service. If this is the case, then you’ll want a new fridge with a faster chilling time. To make your bartenders’ lives even easier, make sure it holds a significant volume of glasses. Whether it’s bar or wine glasses, the bigger the better.

5. Glass washer

Glass washers do exactly what they say on the tin, wash glasses. This is a must-have for any bar as it goes without saying that customers don’t want dirty glasses. Most are front loading and made to a standard size to fit a standard-sized tray, similar to dish washers. These are the best washers to have as they have a high wash rate. Whether you’re serving high or low volumes of customers, mostly pint glasses or wine glasses, there’s a glass washer out there for every bar. Carousel, slim and conveyer are just some of the types you can get.

There is an alternative to the glass washer if you’re not a fan of a potentially loud machine behind the bar. For this, a three-compartment sink is an excellent choice. The sinks and washer are bought separately but the set up is easy to organise. The only downfall to this is that it’s very labour intensive. Every single glass needs to be washed by hand and drying takes much longer. Unless you have a dedicated washer (someone who loves to wash and dry) a glass washer is your best bet.

6. Ice machine

clear ice bartender

The ice machine is one of the most useful bar accessories you could purchase. Ice is absolutely essential behind the bar. Ice that’s high quality means that the customer’s drink is also high quality. Good machines ensure the ice produced is large, solid and melts a lot slower. As an added option, attaching a water filter within your machine is possible and will mean the ice produced is even better.

Your ice machine must be able to keep up with service too, this isn't no slow home ice maker. Disruptions to service can create chaos in the bar, so you don’t want to be waiting around for something as simple as ice when making mixed drinks. Make sure that the machine you buy will be able to deliver for your bartenders. Consider if there’s a kitchen too, as they’ll also need to use ice to chill food items, increasing the amount of ice you’ll need on site for any given day.

Final thoughts

Before we finish, it's important to consider some extra points. Large equipment used in a bar should come with considerations towards your staff and bar space. Keep these four important points in mind when organising your tools and equipment...

1. Drainage

Many of these pieces of bar equipment require access to good drainage. Make sure you’re able to position these machines near the drain or drainage system in the bar.

2. Heat

Having so many pieces of equipment in the bar and in one area can mean an unbearable amount of heat is produced. For the sake of your bar staff and customers, alike, position them well. Working in ovens isn’t fun.

3. Noise

Similar to the heat issue, many machines in one space produces a lot of noise. Consider what might be noisy and whether it can be stored in the back somewhere. Nothing worse than having to lipread your way through a conversation.

4. Quality

Buy cheap, buy twice. Whilst buying secondhand essential equipment doesn’t mean buying secondhand quality, be wary when doing this. Being thorough when buying will (hopefully) mean you avoid a nasty surprise two months down the line. Check the company that produced the machine still exists, in case of any future repairs. The best way to avoid this, however, is to buy brand new.​

Want to learn more about essential bartending tools? Read some of our articles on the bar spoon and cocktail shakers like the Boston shaker and Cobbler shaker

Interested in pursuing a career as a bartender? Learn more about our bartender courses