How to Run a Bar: Basics of Bar Appliances

By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

When you are setting up your bar, there are appliances that are bar tools with a plug. Here’s a list of appliances you need for your bar:

  • Blender: Most bars do have blenders, even though bartenders like to hide them. Because you will get patrons who want frozen daiquiris, margaritas, piña coladas, and other frozen cocktails, you need a good-quality commercial blender with some kind of warranty.

    The most popular bar blender brands are Vitamix, Blendtec, and Waring blenders. Make sure you buy commercial grade products. All three of these brands have a personal or home version as well. Choose the commercial product for the best performance and warranty.

    If you plan to use your blenders often during business hours, opt for a blender with some sort of sound-reducing technology. Some have shielded motors or other innovations that make them much quieter than your average home blender. Your chatting customers will thank you.

  • Coolers: No, this doesn’t mean that you should put the heavy-duty plastic, tailgating toy box behind your bar. The term cooler actually refers to a refrigerator in bar-speak. You can find a variety of sizes to fit in different spots behind your bar and in your kitchen.

    • Reach-in coolers are small coolers, roughly the size of a dorm or under-the-desk fridge. Bartenders reach in to get what they need out of them. Highboy coolers are reach-in coolers situated about waist level, maybe on top of a counter. Lowboy coolers fit under the counter. Bartenders keep backup garnishes, bottled beer, juice, and other perishables they need regularly in these small coolers.

    • Beer coolers are large, chest coolers below the bar top. The door is located on top of the chest, and it slides open, allowing easy access to quick-selling beers.

    • Many bars also have walk-in coolers in or near the kitchen. Commonly known as walk-ins, these refrigerated rooms allow staff members to walk into them. You can store large, perishable items such as kegs, cases of beer, or a flat of salad greens in your walk-in. Typically, bartenders move what they need from the walk-ins to the reach-in before their shifts start to keep things handy.

  • Ice machine: Making great drinks requires using great ice. And great ice requires a water purification system and a quality ice maker.

  • Smoke eaters: These commercial clean-air systems are a must in any bar or tavern that has a smoking section or allows smoking at the bar. See SmokeEaters on the web or call 1-888-811-3719 for more information.

  • Submersible dishwasher: This dishwashing unit is standard in a restaurant bar, but it’s typically a backup appliance in a busy bar. A submersible dishwasher is only for glassware. It usually fills the first of a three-sink system.

    The first sink is for washing (or gently rubbing the glasses around on the rotating brushes). The second sink is for rinsing the soap off the glasses. The last sink contains sanitizer to dip the glasses in to kill off any lingering germs.

  • Undercounter dishwasher: A necessity for a high volume bar, this automatic dishwashing unit can complete a load of glassware in as few as 90 seconds.