Building a Bar – How to Design and Build a Drink Rail

Cabaret Design Group

How do you design and build a drink rail for a bar?

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Learn the guidelines for designing and building drink rails for restaurantsbars, hotels and man caves.

In this post I’ll discuss the architectural standards for correct drink rail design for bars, restaurants, sports bars and man caves and later I’ll review two special sketches I’ve prepared for you.

BAR DESIGN TIPS – HOW TO DESIGN AND BUILD A DRINK RAIL FOR A BAR

Drink rails are popular in many settings. A drink rail is a mini-version of a bar top and is typically featured along walls, which is the type of drink rail I’m going to discuss today. From a previous video of ours, you may recall the restaurant bar which featured two seating ideas along a wall, shown here: the first approach showed three two-top tables along the wall, which could yield dining for six or as a drink rail for 11. While drink rails can facilitate greater occupancy, they aren’t conducive to dining. However, even where food is being featured, some owners prefer the profitability of selling more alcohol.

Photo of drink rail
PHOTO OF DRINK RAIL FABRICATED FROM HIGH PRESSURE LAMINATE

DESIGN TIP:


Drink rails work best when the distance from the edge of the bar top to the face of the opposing wall is between 82” – 96”.

WHAT IS THE BEST DRINK RAIL DESIGN?

As I’ve said before, architectural standards are the key to planning bar and restaurant seating and drink rails fall into this category. When space-planning, we need to ensure proper circulation and interface clearances in front of the bar and drink rail; use the following bar dimensions for ergonomic bar design, referenced in this downloadable sketch:

  1. The height of the drink rail should match the bar top height, which is 42” – 45”.
  2. The drink rail should be 10” – 12” deep and should have a 4” backsplash.
  3. Plan 18” for the customer activity zone (24” if using bar stools).
  4. Always include a 36” activity zone for ADA and wait staff.
Architectural drawing of wall-supported drink rail
ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING OF WALL-SUPPORTED DRINK RAIL

THE MOST POPULAR DRINK RAIL DESIGN

Our most popular DIY drink rail design is shown above (downloadable sketch).

  • Use the same material as your bar top.
  • The best alternative is high-pressure laminate with a ¾” particle board core, as shown in the above photo.
  • All drink rails should have a continuous plywood underlayment, set back not more than 2” from the outside edge of the drink rail.
  • The key to this drink rail design is that it doesn’t need support brackets, as it’s fully-constrained between two (2) layers of 2 x 4 plates, inside the wall.
  • Use 3½” coarse-thread deck screws to fasten.
  • Bond the drink rail to the underlayment with construction adhesive.
  • For commercial applications, all materials should be fire-treated.

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DOWNLOADS FOR THIS POST:

UNIVERSAL BAR CLEARANCES WITH ADA

CUSTOM_DRINK_RAIL_DESIGN.pdf

BAR_AND_RESTAURANT_SEATING_GUIDELINES.pdf

DISCLAIMER: The above video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support the channel and allows us to continue to make videos like this. Thank you for the support!