Making the perfect cocktail is a true art form and we all have the ability to create our own masterpiece. With a little experimentation and knowledge of your own taste, we can make mixed drinks at home that are far better than those at your local cocktail lounge. But before you start mixing your own Mona Lisa you’ll need the necessary home bar supplies.
From ingredients to the tools with which to mix them, here are some of the most important bartending supplies I always keep within close reach.
The cornerstone of any cocktail is liquor, so you’ll need to stock basic home liquor cabinet. I think options like vodka
(light and dark), cognac
, and tequila
offer the most versatility for an in home bar. Some drink-specific liquors like sloe gin
, triple sec
, and others always come in handy too.
2. Cocktail Mixers
Unless you have a taste for straight spirits, you’ll need some cocktail mixers to broaden your cocktail repertoire. Fresh ingredients like cocktail juices will make any drink superior, but they have a short shelf life. So an assortment sodas, juices, tonic water
, etc. are all must-haves. You should also consider flavored syrups like grenadine
to give homemade drinks a sweet, but fruity twist
3. Bar Glassware
Cocktails can be served in almost any container, but having the correct bar glasses can make a standard cocktail extraordinary. I’m a fan of an authentic bar experience so I’ve assembled a cocktail glass
set that works pretty well and learned to associate different drinks with the proper glass.
If you need a quick tutorial, check out Cocktail Glasses: Basics for Beginners
4. Cocktail Recipe Book
Sometimes it’s impossible to remember drink ingredients, so a cocktail recipe book is a required fallback. I understand that most people may cite the internet, but every drink recipe varies and you need a solid go-to resource. As a newbie, Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide is a good place to start in the event a guest throws you a curveball.
5. Ice Bucket
Unless you like your cocktails warm, having an ice
bucket on hand is helpful. Yes a cooler
can keep your ice frozen during a party, but fishing bottle caps out of your cocktail ice when making drinks kinda sucks and looks a little sophomoric.
Take a tip from me: an insulated ice bucket and tongs are bar accessories that you’ll want to have on hand.
No matter what type of cocktail you prepare, everyone needs a few basic bar tools and that’s where barware comes into play. From measuring liquor to shaking
or stirring, here’s what I consider the mayor players:
- Bar Jigger – to measure out liquor
- Bar Shaker – to thoroughly mix ingredients
- Bar Strainer – to remove ice
7. Bottle Opener
“Woman does not live by cocktails alone,” so everyone needs a bottle opener for beer and wine. Sure some beers open with a simple twist, but you’ll look kinda silly when you injure yourself on that bottle of imported beer.
Instead, keep a bottle opener as part of your home bar supplies. You’ll also need a wine opener that can handle bottles of all shapes and sizes.
8. Fruit Garnishes
Fruit garnishes like zest
, twists and cherries are all regular drink staples, so you need to keep fresh fruit on hand. I use limes, lemons and oranges most often, but I find that they can spoil pretty quickly; cherries can be kept in the fridge for a couple months. Fresh herbs are also popular, but their shelf life is pretty short.
My rule of thumb is to keep a few basics on hand, but go shopping for fresh fruit and herbs before friends come over.
9. Beer & Table Wine
Believe it or not there are some people that don’t enjoy cocktails, so beer and table wine is my failsafe. A great match for food or light appetizers wine appeals to almost everyone. And if friends are over to watch a sporting event, beer is probably a better choice with nachos than a Manhattan. Regardless, I want my guests to enjoy themselves and having an alternative to cocktails is important.
Before any artist picks up her brush she assembles all the materials needed to create a treasure. Hopefully this list of 9 critical home bar supplies will help you create your next masterpiece cocktail on the way to becoming a home bartending Da Vinci.