What are speed rails and why are they critical to bar profits?
This post discusses bartender efficiency and why speed rails are the single-most critical piece of bar equipment. Discover how to maximize bar profitability through properly-designed speed rails and ergonomic bar design.
What Are Speed Rails?
Most bars that serve alcohol and have underbar equipment will generally have speed rails. A speed rail is a bar equipment accessory that attaches to the side of underbar stainless equipment and is used to store a combination of inexpensive, “well” liquor, the best-selling non-“well” liquor and spirits and mixers. Speed rails are generally fabricated from stainless steel, as shown in this photo. They are often purchased as an accessory when ordering items such as ice bins, as shown here. The speed rail derives its name from the fast-moving liquor it generally stores and the ability of the bartender to quickly access it. The term “well” is a connotation synonymous to “bottom-of-the-barrel,” but don’t be misled: not all liquor in speed rails should be well liquor. The speed rails in a well-engineered bar equipment plan will have a strategic product lineup that would contain a combination of lower price point vodka, rum, gin, tequila, etc., as well as Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo, Dewars, Black Label, Grey Goose, Tito and mixers such as triple sec, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, Rose’s Lime Juice, schnapps, etc. However, the optimal product mixture will vary according to demographic favorites.
How to Implement Speed Rails in Ergonomic Bar Design
Each bar station should have its own speed rail. As shown in this plan, speed rails are attached to the side of drainboards, ice bins and 3-bin sinks. Speed rails should be set so their bottoms are about 12” – 14” above the floor, so the tops of the bottles within them are at 30” above the floor – which is level to the working surface of the underbar stainless, as shown in this photo. A well-planned speed rail will contain as many as 20 carefully selected products. With the average bottle being 4” in dia., this equates to over 80” of necessary speed rail for the typical bar station. Optimal bar design should have 70 – 80% of bartenders movements to be in front and side-to-side.
FOR MAXIMUM BAR PROFITS, AVOID the Use of Double Speed Rails
Although they’re commercially available, by all means, avoid using double speed rails! This layout depicts the harmful effects of double speed rails. As shown here, the double speed rail causes a 6’ tall bartender to stand 5” further back and lean forward an extra 10 degrees. Double speed rails do nothing but contribute to bartender back strain and compromised efficiency and this is counter-productive to maximum bar profits. Keep your underbar equipment within the 24” lateral envelope I show in the downloadable sketch. Remember that maximum bar profits are the end-result of maximum bartender efficiency, which requires bar design rooted in ergonomics.
If you don’t have the available space to incorporate an adequate speed rail, then include combine your speed rail with a tiered underbar bottle display, such as the Glastender model #LDA-24, shown in this photo. Stick with these design principles and you’ll enjoy maximum bar profits.