Steps to Set up Your Back Bar

how to set up your back bar

Why is the “way in which” you set up your back bar so important?   We know how critical it is to have your dining room, entry or vestibule and all other aspects of your building looking pristine and exciting to your honored guests.  Same goes for your back bar as it defines in part what you are attempting to accomplish by displaying your alcohol beverages. 


Here are some key points to consider:  

Compliance is Critical: Once your design and display is set and you have a schematic or layout it’s best to “freeze that view” so to speak for maximum impact.  Be careful not to allow creative bartenders and bar managers re-set or tweak what you have set as the final product.  Mixology and bartender creativity today is trendy and fashionable however you should encourage compliance on this initiative versus bending to numerous changes and tweaks. 

Multiple Prototypes: Whether you have one prototype or numerous, you can follow some winning and best in class examples that will insure you have a consistent look in each of your back bar displays.    

Key Components for Success:

•  When possible, utilize bottles from the speed rail for executing recipes. Keep “back bar” bottles stationary for view/display only.   

•  The eye will view left to right, just like we read a book.  Start with highest moving spirits to lowest.  An example could look like:

A   I   B C A I
S   L   O H C A
    A   N S   L
    S   S     S

•  One deviation to this may be if you are selling 25 drinks with Absolut and only 4 with Grey Goose, you might lead off with the lesser expensive Absolut as appeal is stronger and this gap in performance is huge.   Drink analysis is an important factor in determine what goes first and so on.

•  No nonalcohol syrups and purees should not go on the back bar.  These are secondary products and will not drive trial.

•  If you have multiple rows, position or block bottles so you see all labels for maximum view.  The more you show the more exciting your presentation for guests.

•  Keep clutter off the back bar and concentrate on how you display alcohol products only.  Personal items, games, index cards, cash banks, team member beverages all pull away from the look.  

•  If you wish to display wine bottles, you should so that they create an appeal, simply not a row of wine bottles you offer.  

•  Beer is tricky; you already have tap handles with logos and beer is generally  called out well on your beverage menu.  Beer bottles  do not add to a vibrant and sexy looking back bar.

•  For promotions and special events you may want to reserve a small area on your back bar to market.  A row of Jack Daniels Whiskey with the old fashioned 6 oz. glass Coke bottle for example could make some real impact.


•  Glassware - You have to put it somewhere and you may have to utilize part of your back bar for storage. Glassware is not a huge factor on why drinks sell so keep this in mind during set up.

•  Deviation - As noted, challenge bartenders to keep the set-up in place once you have your display completed.  Your back bar display will act as a great point of sale billboard.

Remember, your back bar display expresses your brand and plays a key role in how you communicate and market alcohol products to your guests. 


For a complimentary assessment of your operations contact George Barton at [email protected], call 321-662-0641 or visit








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