Ultimate Guide to Selecting Bar Equipment for Your Business

Running a successful bar business requires more than just serving great drinks. You need the right equipment to keep up with customer demand, maintain quality and consistency, and maximize profits. But with so many options available, selecting the right bar equipment can be a daunting task. In this ultimate guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to choose the best equipment for your business.

What to Consider When Selecting Bar Equipment

Before investing in any bar equipment, it’s essential to consider several factors that could impact your business’s success. Here are the key things to keep in mind:

Type of Bar

Different types of bars require different equipment. For instance, a sports bar might prioritize multiple large-screen TVs, while a cocktail bar might focus on glassware and mixology tools. Determine what type of bar you plan to run before deciding which equipment to purchase.

Space and Layout

The size and layout of your bar will also impact your equipment choices. Consider the available space, the placement of electrical outlets and plumbing, and any potential restrictions on gas usage.

Volume of Business

How busy do you expect your bar to be? The volume of business will determine how much equipment you need and how quickly you need to serve drinks. If you anticipate high demand, investing in high-capacity refrigeration units, ice makers, and blenders is crucial.


Bar equipment can be expensive, so it’s essential to set a budget before shopping. Focus on purchasing high-quality, durable equipment that will last, even if it means spending a little more upfront.

Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient equipment is not only better for the environment but also helps save on utility costs over time. Look for equipment with ENERGY STAR certification or other eco-friendly features.

The Essential Bar Equipment Pieces

Ultimate Guide to Selecting Bar Equipment for Your Business

Some bar equipment pieces are considered essential for all types of bars. Here are the must-have items to get started:

1. Commercial Refrigeration Units

Commercial refrigerators and freezers are essential for storing perishable goods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats at safe temperatures. Choose a unit with adequate storage space and temperature control features.

2. Ice Machines

Ice machines ensure your bar never runs out of ice, which is crucial for serving cold drinks quickly and efficiently. Consider factors like daily ice production capacity, ice type, and storage bin size when selecting an ice maker.

3. Glassware

The right glassware can make all the difference in how your drinks look and taste. Stock up on a variety of glasses, including pint glasses, wine glasses, shot glasses, and martini glasses, depending on your menu offerings.

4. Bar Tools

Bar tools, including shakers, jiggers, strainers, and muddlers, are essential for crafting cocktails. Look for high-quality, durable materials that won’t rust or corrode over time.

5. Blender

A blender is critical for making frozen drinks and smoothies. Invest in a blender with a powerful motor and multiple speed settings for optimal performance.

Additional Bar Equipment to Consider

In addition to the essential equipment pieces, there are several other items you may want to consider adding to your bar setup:

1. Draft Beer System

If your bar serves beer, a draft beer system is a must-have. These systems help maintain consistent beer quality and offer a cost-effective way to serve beer.

2. POS System

A point-of-sale (POS) system can help streamline your business operations by tracking sales, inventory, and employee performance. Look for a system with features like customer database management and real-time reporting.

3. Beverage Dispensers

Beverage dispensers can be used for serving non-alcoholic drinks like soda, juice, and water. Choose a unit with multiple dispensing heads for greater efficiency.

4. Commercial Dishwasher

A commercial dishwasher can save time and money by quickly cleaning glasses and dishes. Look for a unit with a high-temperature wash cycle and a rapid drying feature.

Pros and Cons of Buying New vs. Used Bar Equipment

When selecting bar equipment, you’ll need to decide whether to purchase new or used items. Each option has its pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Buying New Equipment

  • Greater selection of models and features
  • Comes with manufacturer warranties and customer support
  • No hidden damage or wear and tear from previous use
  • More energy-efficient and eco-friendly

Cons of Buying New Equipment

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Depreciates in value over time

Pros of Buying Used Equipment

  • Lower upfront cost
  • Can often find high-quality equipment that’s been well-maintained
  • May have already depreciated, making it easier to sell later

Cons of Buying Used Equipment

  • Limited selection of models and features
  • No manufacturer warranties or customer support
  • May have hidden damageor wear and tear that could lead to costly repairs or replacements

Alternatives to Purchasing Bar Equipment

If you’re not ready to make a significant investment in bar equipment, there are several alternatives to consider:

1. Leasing

Leasing allows you to use the equipment without having to purchase it outright. This option can be cost-effective in the short-term, but may be more expensive over time due to interest rates and monthly payments.

2. Renting

Renting bar equipment gives you temporary access to the items you need without committing to a long-term investment. This option can be helpful for special events or seasonal businesses.

3. Outsourcing

Some bars choose to outsource certain services, such as glassware washing or ice production, rather than investing in equipment themselves. This option can save time and money, but also means relying on outside vendors for critical business operations.

Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting Bar Equipment

Now that you know what to consider and which pieces of equipment to prioritize, here’s a step-by-step guide to selecting the best equipment for your bar:

1. Determine Your Needs

Consider factors like the type of bar you’re running, your budget, and the volume of business to determine which pieces of equipment you need.

2. Research Equipment Options

Research different models and brands to find the best fit for your needs. Look for customer reviews, manufacturer specifications, and energy efficiency ratings.

3. Compare Prices

Compare prices from multiple vendors to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Consider additional costs like shipping and installation fees when evaluating offers.

4. Purchase or Lease Equipment

Decide whether to purchase or lease the equipment based on your budget and long-term goals. If purchasing, work with a reputable vendor and negotiate warranty terms and maintenance agreements.

5. Install and Maintain Equipment

Once you’ve acquired the equipment, ensure it’s installed correctly and maintained regularly to maximize its lifespan and efficiency.

Tips for Optimal Bar Equipment Performance

To keep your bar equipment running smoothly and avoid costly repairs or replacements, follow these tips:

1. Clean and Maintain Regularly

Clean and maintain equipment according to manufacturer recommendations to prevent wear and tear and ensure optimal performance.

2. Train Staff on Proper Use

Train staff on how to use equipment correctly to avoid accidents and prolong its lifespan.

3. Conduct Regular Inspections

Inspect equipment regularly for signs of damage or wear and tear to catch problems early before they become more serious.

4. Keep Documentation

Keep documentation of all equipment purchases, maintenance records, and warranties to track performance and make informed decisions about future investments.

The Best Bar Equipment Brands

When selecting bar equipment, you want to choose brands known for their quality, durability, and reliability. Here are some of the best bar equipment brands to consider:

  • True Refrigeration
  • Hoshizaki
  • Vitamix
  • Scotsman
  • Waring Commercial
  • BUNN
  • Perlick


Selecting the right bar equipment is a critical component of running a successful business. By considering factors like the type of bar, available space, volume of business, budget, and energy efficiency, you can make informed decisions about which pieces of equipment to prioritize. Remember to clean and maintain equipment regularly, train staff on proper use, and keep documentation of all purchases and maintenance records to ensure optimal performance over time.


Q1. What are the essential bar equipment pieces?

A1. The essential bar equipment pieces include commercial refrigeration units, ice machines, glassware, bar tools, and blenders.

Q2. How do I choose the right size ice machine for my bar?

A2. When selecting an ice machine, consider factors like daily ice production capacity, ice type, and storage bin size to ensure you have enough ice for your business’s needs.

Q3. Is it better to buy new or used bar equipment?

A3. There are pros and cons to both buying new and used bar equipment. New equipment offers greater selection and warranties, while used equipment can be more cost-effective upfront.

Q4. What is the best brand for commercial refrigeration units?

A4. True Refrigeration is one of the best brands for commercial refrigeration units, known for its durability and reliability.

Q5. How do I maintain my bar equipment?

A5. To maintain your bar equipment, follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and maintenance, train staff on proper use, conduct regular inspections, and keep documentation of purchases and maintenance records.

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