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Back Bar Layout & Equipment Guide


Unlike the under bar area, the back bar is visible to your customers. It needs to be clean and attractive, while at the same time being efficient for your bartenders.


Back Bar Refrigeration

Be sure to read the label or product specifications for your dinnerware. Incorrect care can result in warping, cracking and possibly fire.

Refrigeration is the most important part of your back bar. People like their drinks to be cold when served. Sometimes serving them in a cold glass can make all the difference, especially for outdoor bars.

Back Bar Coolers

Back bar refrigerators should appear sleek and clean as they are visible to all of your customers sitting at the bar.

Back bar coolers come in both solid and glass doors. If your bar serves a lot of imported microbrews in individual bottles, you may want to consider a glass door cooler so your customers can see exactly what you have without needing to look at a drink menu. For units that are used to hold drink mixes or bottles, use a solid door cooler.

back bar refrigeration

Horizontal Bottle Coolers

When you need to chill a large quantity of bottles or cans, use horizontal bottle coolers. These units have sliding doors on top for easy access to beverages. The beverages inside are concealed from the customer, and these deep units can hold large capacities of both cans and bottles. When these units are stocked, the bartender won't have to reach over very far to pull out a cold bottle or can.

Whether you are serving beer from a bottle, can or straight from the tap, there is nothing like serving it in a chilled glass. Glass and plate chillers will allow you to serve cold beer in chilled glasses. Also, you can chill plates in these units, if your bar area serves cold food.

horizontal bottle cooler

Direct Draw Beer Dispensers

A lot of times, beer dispensers are put in the under bar or back bar area so that customers can easily see what is on tap. Decide where you want your taps to be. That will denote where you put your direct draw beer dispensers.

Choose Your Finish

After you have decided which type of refrigeration you need, then you have to decide which type of finish you want, but whatever you do, be consistent. Stainless steel is the most durable substance, but must be maintained properly. Black vinyl is less durable, but in a dark bar is easily hidden. In a busy bar, your refrigerator could be easily dented. In a dark bar, the black vinyl will conceal dents and dings more than the stainless will.

stainless steel horizontal bottle cooler


Displaying Your Liquor Selection

When a customer comes up to your bar, they most likely have a drink in mind. Displaying your liquor lets the customer scan your bar area and see what you have available for them to order. A liquor shelf can be functional or solely for display.

Display Only

Some bars have custom built shelves that are designed only for displaying bottles. A lot of times the bottles are not even filled with liquor, but have already been emptied to show what the bar offers. Usually liquors are arranged from least expensive on the bottom shelf to highest quality on the top shelf. This is much more practical in a display only situation, as you will not be reaching over bottles to get to what you need.

If this is the route you choose, be sure to stock up on speed rails and liquor displays for under the bar so that your bartenders can easily reach the bottles for service.

back bar liquor display

Functional Display

To save under bar space, you can use the bottles in your display for liquor service. This allows your customers to see what you serve and allows you to serve it without taking up extra space. The main difference is that bottles on a functional back bar display will have pourers, where a display only will not. Put the bottles you use most on the front shelf so they are the easiest to access.

functional back bar display


Displaying Bar Glasses

Bar Glassware

In order to serve a beer or proper cocktail, the correct glassware is needed. Decide what types of glasses to buy and how many of each to keep on hand.

» Learn more about essential bar glassware

bar glassware

Glass Racks

A busy bar not only goes through a large number of glasses, but through various types of glasses. Position hanging glass racks above both the bar and back bar area to hold your stemmed glasses. These racks help your bartender access the glasses when needed. The clean hanging glasses are also decorative for your back bar area.

glass rack