Having a well-stocked home bar is about more than just having a full compliment of basic liquors in your home (whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, bitters, gin, and vermouth), itâ€™s also about having the right tools to make drinks. Here are a handful of tools that every home bar should have.
Alright, Iâ€™ll admit that this one pains me to add given my preference for using speed pours, but there are two reasons why every home bar should have one – first, most people donâ€™t know how to accurately use speed pours, and second, not all bottles are best served by using speed pours.
You can find jiggers in a variety of sizes, but I recommend finding one that has at least 1 oz and Â½ oz marked out, since that will cover the wide majority of your drinks.
I cannot stress the importance of a quality shaker and strainer. Whether youâ€™re actually shaking your drink or just using it to chill down liquor via stirring (which is what most people forget to do), having at least one quality shaker is a must have item for your home bar.
While itâ€™s easy enough to find a shaker at your local Target or Wal-Mart, I actually prefer shopping at more specialized stores for these (or online), since you can find more professional quality shakers and higher end strainers with a finer mesh for straining your drinks through. And yes, there is a difference.
So many of the currently popular drinks call for twists of lemon, lime, or orange. If youâ€™re good with a knife, then by all means go ahead and use one, but for most people, getting a quality peeler is the easiest way to get the right amount of rind without slicing up your fingers.
While you can use the same peeler you use for carrots and potatoes, I actually prefer an off-set Y peeler, since it gives you a wider piece of rind thatâ€™s great for making twists or for using as garnish if youâ€™re going all out on your cocktails at home.
Any home bar that doesnâ€™t have a good corkscrew (or waiterâ€™s key as theyâ€™re also known) isnâ€™t really a home bar. Even if you donâ€™t really drink wine, having a corkscrew also means you have a small knife and a bottle opener.
Iâ€™m partial to the double-hinged model of corkscrew since itâ€™s easy to tuck into a drawer and the double-hinge action makes it easy to pull out even the toughest of corks without shredding them or breaking them.
Another result of the growth of popular craft cocktails is the increased need for a muddler. There are a variety of styles and materials, including those made from wood, stone, and metal, but the reality is that any of them will do. I personally have a metal muddler with rubber on the bottom thatâ€™s much easier to clean than a wooden muddler.
A solid muddler paired with your shaker opens up a world of drink options to you and your guests for when you feel like getting creative behind the bar.
Having the right glassware doesnâ€™t mean you have to go out and spend a lot on a bunch of specialized glasses. Sure your favorite bar might use croupe glasses to serve cocktails in, but the odds are pretty high that youâ€™ll never need one.
For most home bars I recommend having a set (thatâ€™s 6 in case you were wondering) or standard wine glasses that will work for both red and white wines, martini glasses, highball glasses, and double glasses.
Donâ€™t Jump In Too Fast
This list is by no means a comprehensive list of everything a home bar can have, nor does it mean that every home bar will have these things. It is, however, a list of what I would recommend to anybody that came to me and asked what they needed to make drinks at home without any knowledge of what they like to make.
The beauty of local stores and online shopping is that you can get most of this stuff within a day or two of realizing you need it – nothing on here is so specialized (and there are some really specialized bar tools you can get) that you wonâ€™t be able to find it either at your local home goods store or through a quick search on Amazon.