Like with glassware, having just a few staples can go a long way when it comes to barware. Regardless of the types of drinks that rule your repertoire, every home bartender will make good use of a mixing glass, shaker, strainer, jigger, bar spoon, and hand juicer. For botanical and fruit lovers, a muddler will come in handy, and wine connoisseurs wouldn’t dare be caught without a high-quality corkscrew. Other items that you may want to stock up on include an ice bucket, ice bag and mallet, picks, a peeler, silicone ice trays, and an aerator or decanter. When purchasing these items, you’ll want to make sure you try to balance quality with pieces that are easy on the eyes. Start by looking at restaurant or bar supply stores because if products are good enough for commercial use, they’ll be good enough for your home bar!
There are countless types of alcohol out there, and new variations emerge each day. So which spirits do you focus on as a home bartender? The answer is all of them! While your home bar setup needs to reflect your personal taste and preferences, it is also about entertaining others, so you’ll need to be equipped to deliver on a variety of penchants. To start, about half a dozen spirits and a few trusted mixers will suffice. Build a good foundation by acquiring a high-quality gin, vodka, bourbon, tequila, and white rum. Once that has been established, up the ante by adding spirits such as rye whiskey or scotch. Most experts suggest buying the best you can afford when it comes to base spirits, and many home bartenders find success in homing in on one drink per month. After purchasing all of the spirits and modifiers for a dozen drinks over the course of a year, you’ll have an impressive liquor lineup before you know it.
Mixers & Liqueurs
In order to make a stunning cocktail creation – or any cocktail for that matter – you’ll also need to invest in mixers and liqueurs. A well-balanced drink will combine the right forms of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, but finding where to start can be daunting. For bitters, opt for the basic aromatic and orange varieties, and get more nuanced as your cocktail game evolves. Carbonated beverages such as cola, ginger beer, and tonic water are great to have on hand, and professionals will often tout glass over plastic or cans for its ability to better preserve bubbles. Other essential modifiers include vermouth, amaro, and orange liqueur. Once you add these three bottles to a foundation of base spirits, you’ll be able to create dozens of classics including the martini, old fashioned, negroni, Manhattan, boulevardier, and margarita.