Choosing Bar Equipment 

How do you set up a bar in a hotel, restaurant, resort or at a party or event?

So you are going to set up a bar - that's great... but where do you start? There are lots of things you need to think about when you're setting up a bar. One important aspect is the equipment you will need to run your bar. There are lots of different equipment you can choose from, and ultimately it will depend on what is appropriate for the bar you are setting up.

Some things you will need to think about before you begin:
  • Are you setting up your bar permanently, or temporarily for a function?
  • How many people will your bar need to cater for at a time?
  • What will you be serving at the bar?
  • Who is your clientele, and what will their expectations and needs be?
  • Is there a theme or design that you need to work with when making your decisions?
  • What is your budget?
  • What are your time frames?


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Now let's have a look at some of the things you may need -
Bar equipment may include:
  • Jug
  • Carafe
  • Pot
  • Glasses: wine, champagne etc.
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Electric Blender
  • Cocktail shakers including: "American", "Standard", "Boston" and Italian"
  • Cutting Board (not wooden -an approved material must be used)
  • Fruit Knife
  • Spirit Measures including: "Hand measure", "Optic measure", "Posi pour" and "E.M.U."
  • Ice scoop
  • Bar spoon
  • Free Pourer
  • Glass cleaning brush
  • Zester
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Lemon squeezer
  • Fruit Juicer
  • Waiters friend (this is the name given to the corkscrew used to open bottles of wine)
  • Aprons


Materials used may include:
  • Straws
  • Swizzle sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Cherry Picks
  • Coasters
  • Animal shapes
  • Cocktail Napkins
  • Parasols

Additives and flavourings used may include:

  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Angostura bitters
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cordials
  • Cube sugar
  • Gomme syrup
  • Cream
  • Fruit
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There are many different types of drink dispensers available for use in bars. Some are on flexible hoses, and others are fixed in position. Some dispense a variety of different drinks through the one nozzle (perhaps by pressing different buttons), and others are relatively simple, dispensing only one type of drink from a tap (in which case multiple dispensers are required to disperse multiple drinks).

Other Variables:

  • in line refrigeration (ie. drinks are cooled as they move along the pipe to the tap).
  • in line insulation, to keep drink cool
  • removable & easy to clean drip tray
  • portable or fixed in position
  • dispenses predetermined quantities of drink (or not)
  • mixes water as drink is dispensed
  • size of barrels/bottles which it accommodates
  • programmable dispensing (ie. you may program a cocktail/drink mix)
  • ease of cleaning


The ETN4 spirit dispenser is an electronic device that provides a very accurate measure. It is easy to maintain and operate, has a removable interchange bowl assembly pouring 15 and 30ml drinks. It is certified to meet NSC standards. 

Thru Pour Combo

This is a free flow pourer which fits/is attached to most bottle necks. When a bottle that has this attached is tipped, the clear unbreakable cup at the top fills with exactly 30ml allowing an exact measure of 30ml to then be poured into a glass. This is manufactured in accordance with NSC General Certificate.

15/30 Jigger

This is a spirit measure made from an unbreakable clear glass like polycarbonate, having a 15ml measure at one end and a 30 ml measure at the other end. This is manufactured in accordance with NSC General Certificate.


The glass used for a drink is very important. Many drinks are typified by the type of glass that they use, as they can work to show off the style of the drink, and can have an impact on the way the drink should be consumed.

The glass should be perfectly clean before use. Ensure it is washed properly and free of any marks (e.g. streaks from detergent). In particular, there should be NO odour which might taint the drink to be served (even detergent can leave an odour). If glasses are stored upside down, stale air trapped in them can leave an odour also. Many establishments use open grid trays to store their glasses, which allow air to circulate through them and help to dry up any residual water from washing. Glasses may be rinsed before use to help ensure no odour is present.

Where sufficient refrigerator space is available, glasses may be chilled before use. This helps keep the drink chilled for longer when it is served.

When washing glasses, very hot water and a non-toxic glass cleaning solution should be used. After drying, glasses should be polished to remove any water marks that will detract from the appearance of the drink.
In a commercial situation, real glass (not plastic) should always be used at a bar (unless in a pool bar situation). Exceptions to this may occur when establishments are holding large functions for special events such as New Years Eve, where there may be a threat of damage done with broken glass.
Many glasses may have a specific logo on the side of it which may represent the name of the establishment, or the type of beer that is being served in it – this is particularly common in bars that serve imported beers. For cocktails however, it is best practice to use a glass that is free of any designs, logos or other markings which can detract from the aesthetics of the drink.


Types of Glasses

Stemmed Wine Glass
  • There are different types generally holding between 140 and 180ml
  • Red wine is generally served in the larger types, and white wine in the smaller
  • These are also used for a variety of different cocktails


  • Commonly holds 120 to 125 ml
  • Straight sided, wide diameter (The width is similar to the height)
  • Used mainly for spirits
  • Sometimes used for fruit juices

Highball Glass

  • Commonly holds 200 to 285ml
  • A straight side glass, with no stem, taller than it is wide
  • Used for beer, soft drinks, fruit juice or some cocktails (eg. Mai Tai)


Cocktail Glasses
  • In profile these are V shaped on top of a stem
  • They are used for cocktails or short (small) strong drinks

Champagne Glasses

  • These can be either a wide saucer or tall thin flute shaped glass on top of a stem
  • Commonly hold around 150ml
  • The long tall flute type allows bubbles to rise longer to a smaller service area on top while the shorter cup type disperses and looses bubble faster
  • The taller type is more popular
  • They are used for sparkling wines or some cocktails


Liqueur Glass
  • A small glass, the shape of a champagne flute with most of the top removed (but scaled down even further)
  • Used for small drinks, commonly liqueurs

Port Glass

  • Similar to a cocktail glass but with higher sides
  • A small amount of port can be swirled around the high sides without spilling, allowing release of the full flavour

Sherry Glass

  • Similar to a wine glass, a tall bowl, of medium diameter on top of a stem

Moselle Glass

  • In profile this is a round top sitting on a very long stem
  • It is also known as a "Hock" or "Alsace" Glass


  • A bowl on top of a thickened stem, used commonly for wine
  • Also called Paris Goblet

Brandy Balloon

  • Holds up to 150ml
  • A bowl on top of a shortened stem, with the base much wider than the top
  • Allows full aroma of brandy to be enjoyed (the brandy can be poured to have a maximum surface area, but can also be swirled around the high turned in sides without spilling)

Shot Glass

  • Usually made with thick glass particularly at the bottom
  • Can be used as a measuring tool for cocktails
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Short: approximately 1-2 oz
  • Tall – approximately 2-6 oz

Irish Coffee

  • A very large bowl on top of a sturdy (but not too thick) stem
  • The largest of glasses commonly used
  • Used for a variety of special coffees


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