Wherever you are working as a bartender, unless you work for yourself or do private parties and events, you should be provided with most of the basic tools and equipment that you need. However, if you are putting together your own bar, or if you are not sure what you might need, below is a good starting list of equipment any bartender could use. (Depending on the individual establishment and any specialty drinks served, other barware may be required as well.)
A sink will be necessary for any bar. A double or triple sink is preferred, but at least one sink is necessary to wash glasses and equipment, pour out unconsumed drinks, wash your hands, and wet a towel for wiping down the bar.
One major category of required bar equipment is appliances. You’ll need a freezer (for frozen items like strawberries, ice cream, and other food or drink additives), a refrigerator (for beer bottles or cans, milk, juices, and fruit), and a blender (for mixing blended drinks). Depending on if you serve warm drinks, you may also need a microwave and/or coffee maker.
For any drinks requiring a fruit garnish, you’ll need a good knife for cutting fruit and a cutting board to cut it on. Trays, plates, or bowls to store the fruit will also be necessary.
If you serve wine, a corkscrew is a must-have, and it’s a good idea to keep an extra one or two laying around. Expensive, professional corkscrews make for a good presentation, but every bartender should carry a pocket corkscrew (the kind that come with a small knife attached) around with them.
Similarly, if you serve bottled beer – even if it’s just domestic – you’ll want to have at least one bottle opener. This can be a stationary bottle opener, mounted on the bar or a cabinet, or a pocket bottle opener for the bartender to carry or keep close at hand. If you use a lot of pineapple juice, coconut milk, or other canned juice, you might want to consider a bottle opener and can opener in one.
You’ll definitely need several different types of glasses – highballs, cocktail glasses, beer mugs or steins, shot glasses, martini glasses, etc. If you serve a lot of specialty drinks, you may want other types like hurricane glasses or margarita glasses. If you plan on serving food, you’ll also need plates and silverware.
Bar towels are a must, for wiping up spills, throwing over your shoulder, or wiping down the bar. You can use rags instead of towels, but they don’t look as nice – just make sure they look clean to the customers.
Shakers are a necessity for making lots of mixed drinks. You can get two glasses that fit together, or a large shaker with a top, or a different type of shaker, but you’ll definitely need several of these so that you never run out when some of them are dirty.
This is a basic list of bar equipment that any bar should have. As you get more specialized or add more variety to your drink list, you’ll invariably want or need more equipment. Some other equipment you might end up needing include a mortar and pestle, stirrers or swizzle sticks, and reusable coasters. (You can substitute napkins for that last item, but they shred easily when they get wet.)