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One of the first steps towards bartending success is knowing exactly what you need to have behind the bar. Having the important equipment ready will make sure you never slow down and can continue offering great experiences and service to your guests.




To help you make sure that the bar is stocked and always ready, we’ve made a list of 10 items that need to be on your bartender inventory checklist.


1. Spirits


You need to make sure you have enough spirits in stock at all times. There’s nothing worse than running out of a spirit which is important for popular drinks that customers love. Especially if it’s used in a number of cocktails.


Some you should keep on-hand include: 


  • Vodka for Cosmopolitans.
  • Gin for classic gin and tonics.
  • Rum for anything from rum and cokes to Pina Coladas.


2. Mixers


Along with spirits, make sure you have mixers on your inventory checklist. These non-alcoholic ingredients are important because they add a lot of flavour and sweetness to popular drinks.


Many classic cocktails and drinks rely on mixers. Here are some you should definitely stock behind the bar:


  • Club soda, cola and tonic water.
  • Freshly squeezed juices, such as cranberry, lemon and lime.
  • Bitters.


3. Syrups


The number of cocktails available seems to increase every year as new flavour combinations are discovered. The main providers of these flavours are syrups, such as:


  • Strawberry. 
  • Orange.
  • Simple syrup.
  • Grenadine.


Having a wide selection of syrup flavours means you can create customised drinks whenever customers order them.


4. Glassware


We don’t just mean stocking glasses in general. Instead, make sure you have several glass styles to create different drinks as it’s what guests expect.


Here are the basic essentials you should have:


  • Pint.
  • Pilsner.
  • Seidel.
  • Rocks.
  • Cocktail.
  • Martini.
  • Margarita.
  • Highball.
  • Shot.
  • Wine and flute.


bar glasses


Having the appropriate type of glass for each drink plays a major role in the presentation of the drinks you’re making and serving.


5. Garnishes


The most common garnishes you should keep in stock are mint leaves and lemon or lime wedges. They’re the basics, but there are also garnishes that can be easy to forget about.


Some examples include: 


  • Olives for martinis.
  • Cherries.
  • Cinnamon.
  • Strawberries.


Taste and presentation are the two biggest priorities when making drinks for guests. When they look and taste good, you can turn regular customers into repeat customers.


6. Stirrers


The clue is in the name. Stirrers are important to stir and combine flavours in drinks. The main feature of stirrers or bar spoons which makes them different is that they have a twist in the handle. 


You’ll be glad you kept stirrers or bar spoons on hand. It’ll make it much easier for you to mix ingredients together and fully blend drinks and cocktails to form one flavour.


7. Strainers


Make sure strainers are on your inventory checklist. Once all the flavours in the drink you’re creating have been shaken and combined, a strainer should be placed over the rim of your cocktail shaker. 


This will make sure only the liquid is passed through. It’ll prevent too much ice or too many garnishes being transferred into glasses as you pour drinks for your customers.


8. Straws


There are two main types of straws you should keep stocked behind the bar. The standard drinking straws used in long cocktails like a mojito and soft drinks and also the smaller ‘cocktail straws.’ They’re typically used in short cocktails like an Old Fashioned. 


drinks with straws


Paper straws can be recycled and metal straws can be washed and reused. Both are great options as they’re environmentally-friendly.  


9. Ice


An important part of making drinks is putting ice in a glass. Just imagine if you ran out of ice during a busy shift. Every drink benefits from fresh ice. Not only does it cool drinks and make them more refreshing for the customer but it also dilutes strong spirits to improve the taste. 


Ice also adds to the presentation of a drink. You can use crushed ice in a mojito or an ice ball in a glass of whisky, for example.


A top tip is to use ice balls in drinks served ‘neat’ - such as whiskey or brandy. They reduce the dilution of the drink and help them to retain the rich flavour that people order them to experience. 


10. Spirit Measure


Measures, or jiggers, are used to measure specific amounts of spirits. They allow you to quickly add the right amount of alcohol to the glass and be sure that it won’t be too weak or too strong. 


Some measures only have one measurement, but others have two different measurements on either end which creates an hourglass shape. 


Finalising your bar inventory checklist and having everything fully-stocked is a small yet important step. Once you have that finalised, you can finally focus on all of the other steps that will help you succeed as a bartender and advance your career.


Become an Even More Successful Bartender in Five Steps


As rewarding as a bartender career is, we know it’s not easy to work long shifts and make sure your inventory is always full. It’s fast-paced and enjoyable but can be tiring as you’re on your feet all night.


To help you develop your bartending career, we’ve created a free five-step guide. You’ll learn how to deal with customers, work effectively as a team and much more. Get your free copy below.


Download the 5 Steps to Bartending Success