Dialling in your Cocktail Cockpit

barware on cocktail station counter

Just like a kitchen, the menu, service style, and venue capacity governs your workstation requirements.

How big is the wine list, and how many by the glass? Draught beer too, no doubt?
Nice cocktails – an extensive list that makes a statement, or 3 of the classics, with basic mixers and a few specialty gins thrown in?

Venue balance is imperative, and a concise, well-planned bar affords more room for bums-on-seats at the times where it matters – peak hour when you’re taking turnover.
One needs to weigh up the upfront cost of custom benching & professional equipment – as opposed to taking the extra room needed for the more “basic” level of kit (yes, i’m referring to that esky on the floor with bags of ice you keep tripping over)…

Do I really need such a big bar?

When you’re pressed for space, you tend to start spending more dollars per square-meter, in having to use specialised setups to get everything to fit. The off-the-shelf products may not give you the tight space saving you need to fit everything.

A custom cocktail station designed for a compact fitment, with in built speed race, drip trays and drainage, rinser, dividers for juice pourers or opened wines, tools and condiments, all helps you work effectively. More barware at your fingertips in less space, maximising your stock holding and minimising your clean-down time.

How much stock you need, and the size of equipment required to replenish these stations and keep your customers served depends on a number of factors, but there a few basic rules of thumb to start with…

Opt for a traditional backbar cabinet designed for the heights of wine and beer bottle stock. A restaurant may require 500g ice per person, and a cocktail bar possibly up to 1.5kg per person. The style and size of ice cube affects the type and size of machine you’d buy. Size of glasses, number of different types, glass wash station efficiency and number of seats will all affect how much room for glassware racks you need on-hand.

After all this, you still need at least a little bit of clear bench space to work with.

We’re opening on a bit of a budget…

This upfront cost of going custom, with professional grade equipment, can be a tough bridge to cross…

When setting up your bar, consider costs vs benefit on individual items, and the space they might need, vs what you might require later. As with any capital purchase or investment, go for the best you can afford in a bid to reduce repeat expenditure or unnecessary replacement, and reduce operational costs wherever possible.

Weigh up the cost of having to restock that smaller fridge with warm beverages during service, running out of ice when the orders are stacked, or what that extra table you didn’t quite fit would have been worth by now in revenue.

Where should I start?

At the very least, consider getting some quality advice, and work up a design with the end game for your bar venue in mind. Factor in space and servicing requirements that could be costly to add later, then consider starting with the components you can afford. This will help save costs and downtime associated with upgrading down the track.

Thankfully, off the shelf products are available so you can set out your own cocktail station – albeit taking up a bit more space and less streamlined… Need something custom? Check out some of our bar projects and drop us a line for help planning out yours.
Otherwise, piece together your own with our top picks for designing your own beverage service point, using equipment and barware on a budget…

Shop some of our selected bar equipment