Assembling your home bar is not an easy task to accomplish. It’s actually a relatively hefty expense and large undertaking.
Let us help you cut through the chaff and make a functional, serviceable bar that will enable you to make exactly what you like – no more or less.
Start with liquor you actually like.
Shopping for your home bar is a lot like shopping for your pantry. You should buy things only you enjoy consuming.
You definitely don’t need to buy one of everything. Identify the drinks you like to make the most, and buy the alcohol for those specific drinks, leaving out the rest.
Once you decide you want to expand your bar’s capacity, you can use adjoining recipes that share common liquors. For example, say you really created your bar because you love margaritas. Well, since margs use triple sec, you can just grab a bottle of vodka and your drink potential has suddenly been raised to two, with the addition of the cosmopolitan.
We think you should ideally be able to whip up three to four cocktails in your home bar using at least two different types of base alcohols, which will likely satisfy any guest you may make a cocktail for. To increase that likelihood, stick to basics like vodka-, whiskey-, or tequila-based cocktails.
The right glassware is important, but don’t worry about it too much.
- Hillary H./Yelp
According to Serious Eats, you need only three kinds of glasses for pretty much everything you’ll make at home: a stemmed glass (a V-shaped martini glass or round), a lowball glass, and a highball glass.
But if you’re less concerned about what is supposed to go in what glass, it matters more how well the drink is made. The exception to this is if the drink is served in that glass for a particular reason, as lowball glasses often incorporate the muddling of an herb or a spice into the bottom before pouring the rest of the ingredients.
But let’s be honest, who really does that stuff at home?
You’ll really need only one kind of bitters for a home bar.
When you’re reading the menu of a cocktail bar, you’ve probably come across the term “Angostura Aromatic Bitters.” No, they’re not some fancy bespoke substance made from scratch in the hills of Mexico. You can buy a bottle of them for $12 from Amazon.
Many cocktails call for them, and they’re really the only bitters a basic home bar could ever need.
Get a cocktail shaker to mix things up.
- Spencer Platt / Getty
A shaker is the workhorse for any home bar. It doesn’t matter if you use a Boston, French, or cobbler shaker, but you do need one.
This shaker from Amazon is a great value.
Jiggers are for bartenders — you don’t need one.
A shot glass will do fine if you’re measuring alcohol over the cup it is to go in.
If you want or need to be more specific, a small measuring cup that has notches for ounces will be your best bet.
For smooth cocktails, a strainer is necessary.
But don’t concern yourself too much with the different types.
A Hawthorne strainer – the one with the metal spring around it – will work for 99% of the drinks you’re planning on making in your home bar.
A juicer for any cocktail that takes fresh citrus juice.
If you prefer to use fresh citrus juice instead of the pre-squeezed kind, you’ll need a juicer.
This one will set you back a mere $20.
Depending on what you want to make, you may need other specialized tools.
Cocktail spoons, channel knives, swizzle sticks, mixing glasses, zesters, and muddlers are all optional unless you need them for your signature drinks.
For example, in order to make a proper mojito, you’re going to need a muddler.