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The basic setup of a bar includes a few important items. Some are obvious, such as alcohol and something to up it in, but some are less, such as pens, colouring books and crayons.


The first thing need for any bar is obviously the alcohol. Some of the basic alcohols include:

Though these are the 'basic' alcohols, and should ideally be stocked in every bar, it is important to know your customers, if your bar is part of a five star hotel or country club, a larger variety of Cognac is going to be needed than in a small bar in a low-income area. Having said that, having a large mixture of bottles that are 'obscure' - that is, old, foreign, faded etc., just to give your bar a more homely feel, and they can be a good conversation starter if even the barman doesn't know what they are.


Any bar needs something to mix with the alcohol, whether to add taste, to lengthen a drink or as something for the driver. Some common mixers include club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, 7-Up or Sprite, cola, juices (tomato, orange, pineapple, cranberry, grapefruit, etc.). Other mixers, i.e., those mainly found in cocktails may be bitters, grenadine or even milk, coffee, or heavy cream.

Garnishes such as maraschino cherries, green olives, cocktail onions are used as "decoration" for the glasses, and should ideally be kept in the front of a fridge, with tongs/fork/spoon nearby, should you need to get one in a hurry.


Glassware is also necessary. The type of glass can make or break a drink. Some of the more important glasses include Beer mug, Beer pilsner, Brandy snifter, Champagne flute, Cocktail glass, Collins glass, Cordial glass, Highball glass, Irish coffee cup, Margarita/Coupette glass, Old-fashioned glass, Parfait glass, Sherry glass, Shot glass, and the Whiskey sour glass.

Remember, when washing glasses - especially when using a machine - any cold drinks in warm glasses can cause them to shatter, whether in your hands, or the customers. Many bartenders can tell of times when as a customer was walking away, the base of the glass - and the drink included - just fell away from the rest of the glass.


An important tool in the arsenal of any bar. Ideally, an ice machine would be kept in the cellar, with a large ice-bucket kept behind the bar with tongs or a small scoop. Remember, never put the glass itself into the ice-bucket, because if the glass chips and it goes unnoticed, the shards could cause serious damage.

There are many different types of ice, and many different preparation methods - believe it or not. Some bars only use crushed ice, that is ice that has been chipped or put in a blender, which looks nice in cocktails, but has a tendency to melt very quickly. Twice-frozen ice takes longer to melt, though has a more opaque colour that can put many off.

The best way to get crystal clear ice is to freeze warm water - not hot though, as hot water in a freezer can cause damage to the interior temperature control systems. Warm water is best as it slows the freezing process, giving a more transparent and attractive cube.

Some bars, especially those in Southern Europe, will often freeze a glass, that is put a beer glass in to a freezer and take it out seconds before putting the alcohol in, this can create a very interesting effect, and keep a drink cool without the need of ice-cubes; but, it does take up a lot of freezer space and can be impractical if you've a full bar.