Step Up Your Game with the Best Bar Essentials

Running a bar is no easy business. But having the right tools and ingredients at your disposal surely makes the job feel a thousand times easier. Getting familiar with the fascinating art of mixology is also key, as it will allow you to pour (pun intended!) all your creativity into deliciously colorful cocktails that will dazzle your customers and keep them coming back for more!

Must-have bar ingredients

Here at Valley View Produce, we carry all sorts of wholesale items that can power up your bar business and improve your bottom line: fresh fruits, juices, sodas, garnishes, consumables and more! So, we did some research and found out which are the recommended must-haves on hand as you’re setting up a new bar or stocking your current bar.

Before we get into more details, here’s a definite list of our best-selling bar items:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Fresh lychee
  • Watermelon
  • Berries
  • Kumquats
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Mint
  • Micro flowers
  • Agave syrup
  • Green olives
  • Frozen fruit purees
  • Cream of coconut
  • Acai Berry smoothie packets
  • All fruit juices (orange, cranberry, apple, pineapple, tomato)
  • Ginger beer
  • Tonic, club soda

Fresh fruits

Fruits can pretty much make or break a cocktail. They are the difference between a mediocre drink and a memorable one bursting with flavor and freshness. Here are some of the most popular fruits for cocktails:

  • Lemons and limes

Citrus fruits are excellent for balancing out the bitterness of spirits, making them taste crisp and fresh. Lemon juice is great for cocktails such as the Whiskey Sour, Sidecar, Tom Collins and many more. Lime juice shines in Mojitos, Margaritas, Cosmopolitans and other such classics.

  • Berries

Berries add an irreplaceable dash of color and flavor to any drink and they’re particularly popular in the summertime. Strawberries are an all-time favorite, as they go well with just about every spirit and make any drink stand out through their color and sweet, fresh flavor. The Strawberry Daiquiri is a classic strawberry cocktail. Other berries are also great in alcoholic mixes, such as the Raspberry Ginger Fizz or the Blueberry Martini.

  • Watermelon

You can never go with watermelon, no matter how you choose to serve it. In the summer, when watermelons are in peak shape and flavor, they make great additions to many refreshing cocktails. Their juicy sweetness blends wonderfully with many types of spirits and you can usually get away without adding any more sugar or syrups to the mix.

  • Kumquats

Kumquats are a surprisingly good choice when it comes to cocktail making, which explains why they’re one of our best-selling ingredients for bars. Their balanced citrusy flavor, sitting somewhere between limes and tangerines, blends well with many spirits. This Kumquat Squash cocktail recipe gives you an idea of just how versatile they are: they can be muddled and mixed with gin, lemon juice and liqueur, and they also serve as a fun garnish that completes this colorful, refreshing drink.

  • Lychee

The sweet floral notes in fresh lychee elevate any drink, so it’s a great tropical fruit to keep on hand at the bar. It goes well with just about any type of spirit, so don’t hesitate to experiment with it and reinvent some of the classics by adding some lychee to the mix. Here are some ideas to get you started: Lemon Lychee Martini, Coconut Lychee Colada and Lychee Rose Mimosa.

Fruit juices

If you’re running low on time, a great alternative to juicing your fruits on the spot is to buy fresh fruit juices from a reliable supplier. Here at Valley View, we carry all kinds of fruit juices – orange (Mimosas, anyone?), cranberry (for the classic Cosmo), apple, pineapple, tomato (think Bloody Mary) – and they’re always in high demand for bar owners because they taste great and come in handy when time is of the essence.

Cocktail garnishes

Cocktail garnishes are the proverbial “cherry on top” when it comes to your drinks, although sometimes they can be lime slices, watermelon wedges, mint leaves, micro-flowers, and many more. Garnishes always make everything better by adding a bit more character to your drinks. Just imagine a Martini without green olives, a Mint Julep without mint, or a Manhattan without maraschino cherries. They’re simply not the same without their signature garnishes.

Purees

Fruit purees are an excellent addition to your bar inventory, as they give you access to a whole range of fruits that may not be in season or are too expensive. Stocking up on frozen purees saves you time and money and gives you a chance to incorporate their great flavor and consistency into cocktails such Peach Bellinis or Pineapple Mojitos.

Syrups

As delicious as many bar drinks can be, sometimes they need some adjustment for bitterness, acidity or sweetness. To sweeten up your cocktails, be sure to stock up on simple syrup, agave syrup, maple syrup and honey. Agave syrup is an absolute game changer when it comes to cocktail sweeteners, and it’s a great substitute for regular sugar, simple syrup or even triple sec in some mixes.

Sodas & tonics

Whatever you do, don’t skip the basics. Sodas may be lacking flavor, but they make up for it with their sparkling personality. They’re key ingredients in many popular bar drinks such as the Tom Collins, Vodka Soda and Aperol Spritz. Tonic water is a well-known match for gin but also works wonders when mixed with whiskey or vodka.

Other essentials

Here are a few more bar staples to keep an eye on before you start mixing:

  • Cream of coconut – a key ingredient in the all-time favorite tropical sensation Pina Colada
  • Ginger beer – to be served on its own or mixed in cocktails such as the Moscow Mule
  • Smoothie packets – great to have on hand for healthy menu options at the bar
  • Angostura Bitters – to add an aromatic finish to whisky-based drinks and more

Crafting the best cocktails in town takes a lot of work and passion, but it means filling up your bar inventory with the best-quality ingredients money can buy. So don’t hesitate to check out our full range of wholesale organic produce, fresh juices, paper goods and more to make sure you’re always fully stocked on all the bar essentials you need to succeed!