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Lesson 5 – Bar Set-Up and Layout


Setting up and organising your bar correctly is extremely important to insure fast efficient service. The following points provide guidelines for good organisation however there are always many venue-specific improvements that you can make. Keep an eye out for “roadblocks” – things that are slowing down your service, and think of ways to fix them!

A good bar should be divided into four main sections. Each of these areas should be set-up according to a set structure and maintained throughout service.

1. Counter:
· The bar counter should be completely clean at all times
· Avoid storing glasses or bottles on the counter.
· Items for guests such as menus, straws, serviettes, coasters, water jugs and ash trays should be neatly arranged and always kept topped up.
· Place rubber prep mats on the counter at key points to catch spills.

2. Well:
· The Well is the focal point of a bar. Busy bars may have more than one Well.
· Well set-up will vary but usually consists of a Speed Rail, Ice Well and sink.
· All fast-moving spirits should be stored in the Speed Rail in a designated order.
· It is EXTREMELY important to keep to the speed rail order at all times.
· Commonly used glassware should be placed within easy reach of the Well.
· Garnishes and equipment such as cocktail shakers should be set up and organised around the well.

3. Fridges:
· Fridges are an extremely important part of any bar set-up. They are used for chilling beverages as well as fruits, juices, dairy and sometimes glassware.
· Fridges should be laid out in a logical way:
· Commonly used products closer to the well.
· Items grouped according to category eg. All beers together.
· Check that fridges are at the correct temperature.
· Ensure stock is ALWAYS packed in neat rows with the labels facing forwards.

4. Back of Bar:
· The Back of bar area is primarily for display of premium brands but can include things like glassware storage, POS systems etc.
· The back of bar is a key display area and focal point for guests so it should always be spotlessly clean and well organised.
· Premium brands should be grouped by category eg. All whisky together.
· Bottles should be neatly arranged with all labels facing forwards.
· Glassware should be neatly arranged and grouped according to type.
· Delicate glassware that is easily knocked over or broken should be placed away from high traffic areas like POS systems.

Formative Exercise

Certain procedures should always be followed when preparing for service. Your bar should have a checklist of duties that should be completed. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that these are complete before the first customer walks through the door.

The following are a list of standard preparations that should be done in most bars but always follow your own bar’s checklists carefully:

a) Fill ice wells
b) Re-stock and pack glassware
c) Prepare and check freshness of all required garnish, juices and dairy.
d) Check float and back-up change
e) Remove any rubbish from bar area and insure all bins are empty.
f) Clean and wipe down all surfaces (including menus and bar stools)
g) Re-stock the bar and make note of any items out of stock
h) Inform management and other staff about out of stock items

You can download+ our checklist of suggested duties for use in your own bar or as a template to create your own checklist.