Keeping the home bar stocked with the recommended staples takes a bit of planning, but even the best stocked cabinet is useless without the tools to make them right. Here’s our list of 10 essentials to outfit your bar with everything you need to make those drinks right.
1. Boston Shaker – The shaker is one of the most essential tools in the bar. It mixes, chills, and filters cocktails. This allows for cold drinks without over-watering down with ice. A simple metal shaker is a good pick, but can get frosty and loud so opt for an insulated version if you can find it. Side note: don’t mix carbonated drinks in a shaker, it gets messy when the pressure makes the top pop off, and you want the fizz in the drink, not the shaker.
2. Citrus Press – Many class drinks have citrus juice in them, and a quality press makes it easy to get the fresh juice fast. Keep it simple and make sure it’s big enough to handle medium sized citrus - oranges, lemon, limes, and grapefruit quarters.
3. Quality Ice Cube Tray – Making drinks with frosty ice cubes degrades the quality as the ice melts faster watering down the drink. Look for a flexible tray with large cubes as they melt slower, and are easier to remove from the form. Consider a set of whiskey stones to keep that bourbon cold without any compromise.
4. Cocktail Strainer – Although most shakers have a strainer built in, a dedicated strainer is more effective in removing muddled mint leaves for juleps or other loose ingredient drinks.
5. Cocktail Stirring Spoon – A long metal stirring spoon makes a lot less mess than the typical kitchen spoon.
6. The Right Glassware – It may seem like that drink will taste the same in just about any glass, but it’s just not a right to pour an old fashioned in a martini glass, and please for the sake of everyone avoid the red solo cup.
- Rocks Glass – The rocks glass is also known as an Old Fashioned or Lowball. The glass is characterized by a weighted bottom that makes a solid clink when dropping ice (rocks) into it. Use these for whiskey on ice, or drinks like the Old Fashioned which are mixed in the glass.
- Collins Glass – The Collins glass is taller than the rocks glass, but thinner than the highball. This glass is great for light summer carbonated drinks.
- Highball Glass – This glass is a bit wider but shorter than the Collins. It is made for plenty of ice on hot days and when drinks need a bit less kick with more juice or mix.
- Martini/Cocktail Glass – The martini glass is distinctive in it’s shape and design. It is used for mixed drinks like lemon drops or martinis. With a long stem it’s similar to the Margarita coupe, but has more of a flat flute.
7. Large glass pitcher – Sometimes it’s easier to mix up a large helping and set a pitcher on the table for everyone to enjoy. Go for a pitcher with thick walls to stay cold longer.
8. Zester and Peeler – Plenty of drinks get a nice kick from a hint of citrus, and they look great with a twist of peel. These tools may not be essential for a normal drink, but if you want something special pony up for a set.
9. Knife and Cutting Board – I know, you have knives and cutting boards in the kitchen, but grab a small board and knife that is dedicated to bar activities to be sure the drinks aren’t contaminated by common food prep.
1o. Digital Scale and Double Jigger– To get those pours just right, a digital scale takes out all of the guesswork. Another way to make sure your pours are done right is to get a proper jigger. The double cup pours a single or double shot of spirits for a quick pour that will have the drinks done fast.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Any tips on tools you would think is worth the extra coin? Let us know!