10 things you need for your home bar
Upgrade your home bar with these essentials
Words— Kate Dingwall
While you may have your designated cocktail dens that you frequent on a Friday or Saturday (or a really long Monday) night, why does the quality of your cocktail drop as soon as you enter your front door? Just because you aren’t quitting your day job to pursue mixology anytime soon, doesn’t mean you need to stick to beer or wine when you are at home. You can mix up a decent drink for you or your friends with just a few easy home bar additions.
Having a home bar doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour either. While you should definitely have a ball-out bottle of Scotch or Cognac to impress guests, good equipment is just as essential as your spirits for stirring up a decent drink. From a recipe bible for all your recipe needs to essentials like a good shaker and a good juicer, your home bar needs more than just the juice. To help you set up your home bar, here's what you need to turn your home into a bonafide drinking den.
by Robert Simonson
While revered cocktail writer Robert Simonson has probably sipped more than his fair share of complex cocktails throughout his tenure at the New York Times, his recipe book is bringing good cocktails to the less-skilled of us home bartenders. Like the name may suggest, each drink includes three ingredients - max, and he sticks to simple preparations and spirits that aren’t insanely expensive or hard to find. Thank you, Robert.
Meehan's Bartender Manual
by Jim Meehan
Consider this the bartender’s holy bible. Jim Meehan, of famed New York City cocktail mecca PDT, imparts years of behind-the-bar wisdom to the at-home and industry bartenders alike. Yes, the book is full of great recipes, but it’s also full of cocktail history, liquor production knowledge, and tips of the trade - like order your martini in a smaller glass with a carafe on the side to keep it cooler longer. Plus, a durable but beautiful green leather hardcover makes it well worthy of your coffee table (or Instagram feed).
For the budding bartender, a good cocktail set is a must. Thankfully, this set has the lot. A good shaker for shaken drinks, a stirrer for ice-cold stirred drinks, speed pourers for easy pours, a muddler for mojitos, a jigger so you get your cocktail right, and a strainer for basically everything. Best yet, this set from Vinobravo is a suave chrome colour for a design worthy of sitting on your home bar.
Part of the secret to a great cocktail? Ice that won’t melt two minutes after your first sip. Sub out your standard ice mould for this 4.5’’ set, complete with a silicone mould that will pop out cubes with ease, sans banging the mould against your counter. The XL cubes are perfect for chilling down a Scotch or other clean-sipping drink without diluting the quality.
Think of Shaker & Spoon as the training wheels for the home bartender. Do you know how Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients and recipes so you can play the part of a talented home chef? That’s what Shaker & Spoon does, but with cocktails. With recipes designed by some of the top bartenders on the continent, Shaker & Spoon packs syrups, mixers, garnishes, and bitters into a neat package and sends it to your door. With enough goodies for twelve drinks, it’s the best-kept secret of your next dinner party.
Having a good mixing glass on your home bar will finally give you the opportunity to ask someone, “shaken or stirred?”. Cocktail Kingdom, a.k.a the mecca for all your barware shopping, makes a mean mixing glass out of dishwasher-safe glass. Fill it with ice, give it a good stir and you’ve got an ice-cold Sazerac, Martini or whatever you please on your hands.
Think of bitters like the salt and pepper of the cocktail world: most drinks can benefit from a little seasoning. Orange bitters, like Woodford Reserve’s take, will butter up your cocktails with slight hints of citrus with just a dash or two of the bottle. To spice these up a bit, Woodford ages this bottle in whiskey barrels for an added depth to the flavor.
Many of the standard cocktail recipes you’ll encounter will call for lemon or lime juice. Yes, we know, reaching for those cute little plastic squeeze bottles is probably the first reaction you have, but veer away until you try your hand at fresh citrus. It makes a world of difference, we promise. To make the process a little easier, a good juicer, like this one, is a must.
Keep your drinks cool in style with an ice bucket worthy of staying on the table. Pulling from design tendencies from the Mad Men era, this bucket is perfect for chilling a bottle of bubbly, or just keeping ice cool when you’re too lazy to walk all the way inside for another beverage, and with galvanized double-lined metal, it will actually do keep it ice-cold all day.
While an extra-thin wine glass or a cut-glass rocks glass will woo a guest or two, you might as well have some fun with your cocktails. Cheeky, chunky mugs will hold your libations, yes, but are also as great a conversation piece as they are a vessel. Each of these sets comes with four different mugs in different iterations and colors.