When talking about must-have bar equipment this pretty obvious listicle shouldn’t even be necessary right? Wrong, most bars and restaurants are still cocking up some of the most basic items their bartenders need. All these items save time, money and injuries so if they aren’t in your bar, home, pub, cocktail or dive, then you are failing the most basic element of succeeding in hospitality and bars. Enabling your staff to do their job quickly.
It’s easy to understand why they aren’t purchased though. It seems insignificant. People can make do with a slightly inferior option. Other items basically do the same thing. It’s not like the drink that needs them really gets ordered that much. I already spend too much money on equipment for the kitchen and chefs are far more expensive and angry than bartenders.
Do yourself and your staff a favour and just make sure you have these items. Most aren’t expensive so they’re worth the extra few dollars if they help in the long run. If you’ve got all of them then checking out the advanced kit in upcoming articles is definitely worthwhile.
The single most under-purchased item in the bar world. There should be a draw full of these suckers in every bar's office and any bartender worth their tips needs at least two in their kit. They always go missing or wind up leaving when a bartender quits or get stolen by customers. These stainless steel wonders last for decades and are so incredibly cheap the fact that there are still venues not using them is frankly ridiculous. Get 10, even if you already have one.
There is no reason to have a glass boston shaker. They shatter. They suck. Cobbler shakers are a bitch to clean. Cocktail shakers need to be hard wearing, easy to clean and not likely to shatter glass into drinks and ice wells. These all metal boston tins are an absolute must have in EVERY bar, quality yet cheap professional equipment.
Plastic handled tomato knife? GTFO, a barman's knife needs to be able to do more than cut citrus. To get proper garnish peel and really keep up with the level of prep a good bar has to go through a good pairing or short santoku is king, not some serrated toothpick. Buy a couple and keep spares aside just in case some staff don't use the sharpening tool.
So you just bought a bunch of decent knives but haven't got sharpening skills because carrying a stone around is for bearded guys that make their own axes to alleviate the pain of working in IT infrastructure. Buy this. It uses water to preserve the sharpening elements and produce a faster, sharper finish. Absolutely idiot proof.
Every venue that has any chance of being inspected by a local health department needs probe thermometers. It's a fact of hospitality. Also it should be a tool we use to maintain consistent drink temperatures when training staff (how long should you shake or stir?) as well as making sure your refrigeration is as cold as it says and not running much hotter. Don't go el cheapo and ignore that this is water proof, I've killed too many cheap probes just testing the sample water in a bar fridge for compliance.
If you make syrups, including simple syrup (sugar syrup). If you serve hot drinks. If you have a coffee machine that breaks down. If you need to make something on the fly. These induction hobs are a godsend, no more annoying the kitchen while you make simple syrup after they've already cleaned everything. Super fast to heat, super safe to use and easy to maintain consistent temperature.
The Waring Margarita Madness blender is THE perfect blender for a bar. It's designed to handle ice-heavy blending and has a super strong poly-carbonate plastic jug so no glass issues. Most importantly this blender has a timer so you can prep, set and get on with sorting the other drinks in an order. Not only is that a massive benefit but it is far more powerful than the equivalent vitamix which is a good 4 times the price. Get it now!
Does your bar spoon have red plastic on one end? You own bar spoons that bend, break, are too short to handle appropriately - leading to more RSI pains. Good bar spoons last and are able to mix pitchers and single serve drinks whilst looking fly doing it all, these guys do and they're cheap as.
The single most stupid thing about most underbench ice machines? They can't handle ambient temperatures above 30c. In an enclosed space, surrounded by underbar refrigeration compressors, in Australia, there is no way you're getting more use than your 2 year warranty out of a standard ice machine. This UG (big ice chunk) model from Manitowoc is rated to ambient temps of 43c. Don't get a shitty production capacity machine that makes shitty ice chips instead of good cubes or chunks and never invest in a machine that isn't tropical rated in Australia. Even you Melbourne bars!
Just like the ice machine, bar fridges are always crapping out. Even the best brands still manufacture for temperate rather than hot and humid climates. So if you're opening or buying or already own a bar in Australia you're making a massive mistake in trusting a brand over an ambient temperature rating. This unit is 1/2 the price of similarly rated European models and has loads of handy storage features. If there's anything bar spaces are chronically under-buying it's effective refrigeration space.
Almost all of this is cheap equipment that can be delivered within a couple of days, it doesn’t take an hour of wandering a hospitality supplier only to find out they’re out of stock.