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Bar Supplies Buying Guide

Barkeeper pulling a pint of beer behind the bar

Do you want your restaurant or hotel bar efficiently stocked with must-have tools, appliances, and storage? Below, we’ve assembled everything you need to know about purchasing bar supplies, so your staff has all they need to provide superior drink services for your guests.

These are the most-used items purchased for professional, well-established bars, including a bit about what they are and what they’re used for:

Bar supplies for making beverages

Blenders and mixers: These are the powerful workhorses that will be crushing ice, juicing fruit, mixing thick milkshakes, and blending drinks all day, so make sure you choose a blender or mixer that can withstand rigorous and repetitive use. Commercial-grade blenders are made with durable parts that won’t break or degrade. The blades are sharper, and they have higher grade motors that won’t burn out, like the widely used Vitamix blenders and accessories.

Cocktail shakers: Used to quickly mix and cool alcoholic drinks, cocktail shakers come different configurations: cobbler shakers have built-in strainers so after the drink is shaken, it can be easily poured after removing a small lid; French shakers are similar to cobbler shakers, although they don’t include (and must be poured over) a strainer; and Boston shakers typically consist of a stainless steel or tin tumbler where the ingredients are added, and an inverted pint glass is used to create a seal for shaking. When purchasing cocktail shakers, keep in mind that some are easier to disassemble and clean than others, and try to stick with reputable brands such as Tablecraft and Vollrath that are known to make quality products.

Jiggers: Jiggers are the two-sided measuring tools that look like two small bells or cones attached at their bases, forming an hourglass shape. Standard jiggers have one side that measures one liquid ounce while the other measures one-half, but they can be found in a variety of sizes or with markings on the side for measuring out smaller, more accurate amounts of liquors, syrups, and juices.

Juicers and zesters: Certain cocktails will require fruit juice or, if more flavor is required, zest (a fine shaving of a citrus fruit’s peel). Juicers can be handheld tools or blender-like machines for restaurants that require large amounts of fresh juice. Handheld juicers typically have some type of strainer to catch large pieces of pulp or seeds, and can be hinged with a bowl that, when compresses, squeezes the juice out of the fruit. Zesters, which resemble an extremely fine cheese grater, easily shave off oil-infused citrus peel that pack a lot of flavor. Zesters can also be used to grind hard, whole spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg.

Mixing Glasses: Mixing glasses can be tall glass tumblers, intricate pitchers with spouts, or clear glasses with measurements indicated along the side. Libbey is one of the trusted brands that makes these glasses on the sturdier end, which is important since they’re being used for mixing cocktails or drinks that need to be stirred and not shaken. Consider choosing clear mixing glasses, too, so your guests can visually enjoy watching their drinks being made.

Mixing Spoons: Bar mixing (or stirring) spoons are elongated spoons used to thoroughly mix bar drinks and various cocktails. These spoons come in various materials, like ceramic or stainless steel, and are generally easy to use, clean, and store. Some mixing spoons are also made with a forklike end useful for grabbing garnishes.

Muddlers: Cocktails with mashed fresh ingredients, like lime, parsley, mint, or basil, will require a muddler. Some muddlers have blunt ends for gently mashing delicate ingredients (like parsley) or have textured surface for extracting more flavor from herbs and fruits (like mint and limes). Depending on the types of cocktails your restaurant bar serves, you may want to have both. Muddlers come in plastic, wood, and stainless steel materials, and they can also be found double-sided with a blunt and textured end, which can be more convenient if both are regularly used.

Pourers: Pourers, or pour spouts, help control pouring to prevent overserving, and keep spills and overpours to a minimum. These spouts can be chrome-plated, stainless steel, and colorful plastic, and they also feature strainers, hinged pour tops, and precision balls that ensure measured consistency. Tablecraft is one of the top brands in this category, and they manufacture several of the pour spout types listed here.

Strainers: Bar strainers typically come three different ways: julep (bowl-shaped and ideal for straining from a glass mixer), Hawthorne (a flat strainer with coiled metal springs around the edge for straining cocktails out of tumblers), and fine-mesh strainers (for pouring cocktails over that may have finely broken-down bits like muddled herbs or fruit).

Bar supplies for serving beverages

Bottle openers: A must-have in any restaurant or bar, bottle openers can be corkscrews for wine bottles, speed openers for beer tops and foil removal, church keys for lifting off caps and puncturing cans, or wall-mounted bottle openers for quick, easy access. We generally recommend having an assortment of them handy so your bartenders can easily open a variety of containers and quickly move to the next task.

Drinkware: Since there are numerous types of bar glasses, think about durability and style, in addition to the types of drinks your restaurant or bar will serve. Is your restaurant a microbrewery that needs to have stacks of hard-to-break pints? Or are your bartenders mixologists who serve a long varied list of cocktails? This will largely determine what types of drinkware you’ll need to have on hand, as many drinks are served in specific-to-their-kind glasses, such as margaritas or whiskey.

Garnish knives: Any small sharp knife here should do, such as a paring or y-shaped peeler for slicing off lemon peel or apples for placing on glass rims or in drinks. These handy tools make garnishing a breeze, and you’d be surprised how even a small lemon peel can elevate a cocktail’s aesthetic appeal.

Glass rimmers: Glass rimmers, often called margarita rimmers, are essentially disc-shaped tub you fill with sugar, salt, crushed peppermint candy, or any finely ground ingredients used to decorate and flavor the rim of a cocktail glass. They often come with compartments so you have access to several flavors at once, and they typically swing out for using, and in for storing, keeping the sugar and salt protected and fresh.

Glass washers: Underbar glass washers save bartenders tons of time, which can be handy in a fast-paced foodservice establishment. With quick, efficient glass-washing capabilities, these compact washers come in a variety of sizes and keep a steady flow of sanitized glassware at the ready.

Ice-serving tools: Ice-serving tools, like scoops, buckets, picks, and makers, like those manufactured by Advance Tabco, help keep ice used for serving and making drinks sanitary and accessible. They help keep ice within reach and easily servable. Avoid using hands and glasses to scoop ice (you don’t want glasses breaking in your ice bin!) and with so many types of ice (flakes, nuggets, crescents, cubes), you’ll want to have tongs or scoops, depending on the type of ice you’ll be serving. Is it easier to get the right amount with a scoop? Or should your bartender have a set of tongs for placing individual cubes in the glass?

Supplies for cleaning and organizing bar areas

Bar towels: When purchasing towels for your bar, find ones that are highly absorbent and easy to clean. They’ll be mopping ups spills, sanitizing countertops, wiping smeared glasses, and drying tools and hands alike. Softer fabrics like cotton and terry cloth do well, but make sure they’re multipurpose. Glass-polishing cloths are available, too, and some bartenders prefer to keep a separate pile of absorbing and polishing.

Glass Hangers: Save your bartender time and add versatility and charm to your restaurant’s bar area with glass racks and hangers that display glassware in neat, easy-to-access rows. These glass racks and hangers come in brass, chrome, or wood finishes, so it’s easy to find these racks that match your restaurant’s décor.

Matting: With non-slip mats and shelving liners in various materials and colors, our mats can also be purchased in a variety of thicknesses and firmness. Some mats snap together to form larger mats, promoting air circulation for faster drying and ensuring your restaurant bar’s glassware won’t chip or crack.

Speed Rails: Speed rails help your bartenders access all the tools, liquors, syrups, and condiments in a well-organized space and close at hand. These racks come in different makes, sizes, and materials and help with the overall efficiency of your bar.

BHS Foodservice Solutions has over 75 years’ experience helping restaurants like yours find the best equipment for their bars and drink stations. Our bar supplies are made by reputable manufactures like American Metalcraft, San Jamar, Vollrath, Tablecraft, Advance Tabco, Vitamix.

If you have any questions, contact us, and one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives will help you find the bar supplies your restaurant needs to provide superior drink services for your guests.