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Imagine all the genius thoughts captured on the corners of bar napkins and what a loss it would be to your patrons to run out of them.
Bar supplies, like drinkware, napkins, and free-pour spouts, are critical to the operations and budget of your business. With this detailed guide, you can keep track of all the essential supplies your bar needs.
What is the difference between bartending supplies and bar equipment?
Bar supplies are all the small wares that are temporary, fragile, or need to be replaced for food safety standards. Some supplies you will order weekly meanwhile others you will order every year.
The main difference between restaurant supplies and equipment is how often you replace them. Things like temporary storage containers, beverage nozzles, and silverware are all considered restaurant supplies.
On the other hand, bar equipment refers to commercial refrigeration, stainless steel prep tables, and other durable equipment necessary for operations.
What do you need for a bar setup?
Bar supplies can creep up and eat into your budget – take control of the essential supplies for your bar’s operations.
Alcohol and mixers
Drink sales are central to the success of your bar, so it’s critical to keep a detailed inventory of all the alcohol, spirits, and mixers that go into your bar menu. Bitters, syrups, and garnishes are all a part of the calculations.
Not all liquor is equal – well liquor is the cheapest and often drives the most sales for the business. Call liquor is what your customers will “call” by name, including local and national staples that should remain in stock. Finally, top-shelf liquors are premium products that can be marked up just because of their rarity.
Alcohol and spirits have a long shelf life, so you can order and keep your bar stocked with bulk to reduce costs and ensure a steady supply. Mixers, and garnishes, however, have to be replaced or remade regularly.
Part of the magic of bartending is the possibility – contemporary bar technology is the best it’s ever been, allowing creative mixologists to craft incredible and nuanced flavor profiles. This technology - of course - comes at a price.
What price, you ask? Bar tools like muddlers, stainless steel shakers, bar spoons, glass rimmers, blenders, bottle openers, jiggers, mixers, corkscrews, and strainers are almost necessary to keep on hand. Also, these little items are prone to get lost or thrown out. In short, you have to replace them regularly.
Organizing the various ingredients for drinks becomes a task in itself when operating a bar. Tools like bar caddies and the bartop containers that keep napkins, straws, and stirrers organized keep things where they are easily accessible.
Things like pitchers, stainless ice scoops, and the gaskets on ice machines and coolers should be cleaned and replaced often. Establish clear networks to keep track of inventory and communicate about these supplies with management and staff.
It’s no secret that glassware is fragile – even the sturdiest, most durable pieces are bound to shatter when they’ve kissed the ceramic or concrete floors of your bar one too many times. It’s a good idea to keep extra glassware on hand so that bartenders always have enough available for service.
If your bar’s aesthetic and ambiance rely on specific styles of glassware, consider investing in the bulk of those pieces. Manufacturers and supply chains are prone to sudden disruption. So, they won’t keep making that asymmetrical stemless flute just for your bar’s signature champagne cocktail.
There’s no denying that menus come in all shapes and sizes these days, including the seemingly ubiquitous digital menu. Menus are high-traffic supplies – they change hands multiple times each shift and get spilled on and torn. Consistently track how many menus your restaurants have and budget for the cost of keeping them stocked appropriately.
Cleaning supplies are a food safety necessity – stock your bar with the necessary cleaning supplies to ensure the space meets all federal, state, and local food safety standards. Things like sanitizing solutions, red sani-buckets, and bar rags should be on hand at all times.
Whether you’re opening a new restaurant, expanding your concept, or renovating within your existing four-walls, you’re going to need capital to make it all happen.
How to organize bar supplies
Staying organized helps with keeping track of inventory and budget. There are a couple of concrete organizational strategies for restaurant supplies.
One strategy is to have a digital log of everything that enters and leaves the bar. Reliable restaurant management software can be an excellent tool for this.
You can also maximize the storage space your restaurant has to offer with shelving. Make a clearly labeled “home” for all the supplies you need to keep in the building so that you and your staff know where to find what you need. This organizational approach has the added benefit of streamlining your managers’ inventory count.
Where to buy bar supplies
The best places to get all the supplies for your bar are often the local restaurant supply stores and delivery services in your area. These places often offer wholesale prices on everything you’ll need to operate. In addition, locally owned and operated companies tend to be more personable and reliable. They’ll take the extra steps to ensure your bar is stocked and ready for operations.
There are lots of websites with low prices on bar supplies. Sometimes bar owners can create great relationships with those companies. But, ordering supplies online can come with higher shipping costs than you’ll find from local warehouses.
Bar supply essentials
Now that you have all the information, it's time to work on a sustainable strategy for keeping your bar stocked with all the supplies necessary for operations. Don’t forget to build long-term plans to keep track of inventory and the condition of supplies. You might have to set reminders to check on routine maintenance and replacements.
Supplies are necessary for sales and food safety. They enable your bartenders to work efficiently, making the essential bar supplies a priority of your business model.