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The Complete Checklist to Opening a Bar

If you have seen the film 'Cocktail' then you probably have fantasised of opening your own bar. With all the graceful movements of Tom Cruise as the masterful barista Brian Flanagan, he made it seem as if it were easy. But in realisty there is quite alot of planning, going into opening your own bar.

Find Your Location

Probably one of the most influential factors in opening a bar, is the location. Nowadays you can open all types of bars, from country bars, to fancy nightclub bars, even old-school rock bars. But don't let this overwhelm you, each type of bar has it's own setting based on the location where it's placed. Before opening your bar first see what the locals want. What do they drink? What type of music do they listen to? Your targeted clients will dictate the type of bar you will open.

Choose Your Type of Bar

Once you've considered the above it is time to choose the type of bar you will open. Will you spark it up, will you go old-school, maybe you want to start something original and creative. Here are some of the most popular types of bars:

  • Sports bar
  • Nightclub
  • Brewery
  • Neighbourhood bar
  • Rock'n'Roll bar

Knowing the type of bar you want to open, will also tell you want type of drink you would be serving. There are three main options to choose from in a bar setting.

Tap – Tapped beer can be a great asset to your bar (especially a brewery) but it also asks for a high consumptions rate (as a tank can only last 2-3 days). You can choose from local or imported beers.

Bottle – When it comes to bottles, again local and imported beers can be sold separately for people who are nota fan of tapped beer. Also having a few bottled juices can aid you (especially for vodka juices).

Liquors – They offer an endless amount of variety, where the limit is your imagination. Literally anything, for anyone's flavour can be made with cocktails (even non-alcoholic).


This is highly affected by the space you will have in your bar. Each piece of equipment requires its own amount of surface, be it taps, freezers or sinks. So it is wise to roughly measure your space before picking your utilities.

Refrigerator – Probably one of the most important utilities in your bar, the size of the refrigerator you need will the determined by the amount of guests and alcohol consumption. It will be wise to start your business with a medium sized commercial bar refrigerator, and upgrade after you've estimated the rough amount of consumption. Commercial bar refrigerator is a special type of fridge that has clear glass doors, so that your guests can see the drinks you have to offer on display as they are being cooled down.

You have quite a big variety to choose from starting from small glass door fridges, to big 3 glass doored refrigerators (they also very in type of beverage wine, beer, cans).

Ice Machine – No bar can really go without ice, be it whiskey, vodka, or even tapped water in hot summer days, no drink should be server without ice (unless ordered so).

Cash Register – This is a most have accessory, mandatory to run your business. It is where you will store your money and give recites from. Modern registers are hooked up to a computer, to allow for easier use (although it is a big more costly).

Glass Washer – It is similar to a dishwasher but specifically made for glasses. If you don't have the budget to invest in these machines then you should at least buy a plastic glass washer. It will aid your personal and overall speed up the process of washing glasses.

Towels – Preferably cotton napkins/towels, you will need a bundle of these. One mandatory to each barista (to wipe and dry their hands), and one for polishing glassware.

In recapitulation, before you can open your own bar you will need:

1. The perfect location – determined by the locals

2. The right type of bar – determined by what the locals drink and listen to

  • Tap
  • Bottle
  • Liquor

3. Perfect Equipment

  • Refrigerator
  • Ice Machine
  • Cash Register
  • Glass Washer
  • Towels
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