Setting up the perfect home bar can take quite a while. It took me about 4 years of adding and subtracting items until I found the perfect set up. I think if you’re going to do something it should be done right. So when it came to building my home bar I asked a few of my local bartenders for help. Here’s what they recommended:
What You’ll need
- Boston Shaker – A shaker tin is one of the most important items to have in your home bar for shaken cocktails (AKA any drinks with citrus juice) and there aren’t really any household items you can use to replace it. A good shaker will run you about $5-15.
- Jigger – Used for measuring out ingredients for your mixed drinks. The key to creating a perfect cocktail every time is getting the correct ratio of ingredients every time. Try to find a jigger that has more than two measurements per side so you only need to buy one. You can find a good one for about $8
- Muddler – Used to smash fruits, sugar cubes, mint, pretty much anything that needs crushed. You can find a good one for about $15
- Hawthorne Strainer – A metal accessory used to remove ice from a mixed drink as it is poured into the serving glass. There is a spring-like sleeve around the strainer to catch bits of ice and anything that may have chipped off while being shaken.
- Fine Strainer – A fine strainer isn’t really necessary but adds a nice touch to the mouth feel of any cocktail. This extra step will remove anything missed by the hawthorne strainer.
- Juicer – Whenever you’re making cocktails you want to make sure to use fresh juices. Investing in a juicer will make your life a lot easier especially if you are making more than 3 or 4 cocktails.
- Mixing Glass – You can absolutely use a pint glass as a mixing glass but a proper mixing glass gives you a better base for stirring and will hold more liquid than your standard pint glass so you can make more cocktails at once. A good mixing glass will set you back about $40 or more but it is well worth the investment in our opinion.
- Bar Spoon – A good bar spoon goes a long way. You can find them for about $3 but we suggest spending a little more than that on a good one. This might be hard to believe but the better the spoon the easier it is to stir the cocktail and the more you will look like you know what you’re doing.
- Julep Strainer – You want to use a julep strainer for all of your stirred cocktails. A julep strainer doesn’t catch all the extras like a hawthorn strainer because it doesn’t have to. In most stirred cocktails the idea is to preserve the clarity of the spirit so there is no chipped ice or anything extra needed to be caught which is why the strainer is only meant to hold larger cubes of ice back.
- Large Ice Cubes – The larger the ice cube the slower the ice will melt. Using larger ice cubes will keep your drink tasting the way it should and colder longer.
- Proper Glassware – There are really only 3 types of glasses you really need: Old Fashioned glasses, Coupe Glasses, and Highball Glasses. Old Fashioned glasses are perfect for drinks served over ice. Coupes work for anything served up (shaken with ice and poured into a chilled glass with no ice). Highball glasses work for cocktails served with soda such as a tom collins.
- Bitters – Most classic cocktails call for bitters it’s always good to have a few varieties on hand. You can create so many different versions of the same cocktail using different bitters.
- Garnishes – When you are making a great cocktail, not only should it taste great but it should also look great. Have cut orange, lemon, and lime peels on hand to garnish your cocktails. If you want to add extra fair to your cocktails replace your maraschino cherries with luxardo cherries.
This is just the equipment you’ll need to set up your perfect home bar. Stay tuned to see the basic spirits and mixers you need to add to the perfect home bar.