For someone who loves drinking as much as I do, sometimes going out to a bar is just too expensive for a little nightcap or after-work cocktail. So, I did what any responsible person would do and began working on my home bar. It can be a little overwhelming to start a home bar from scratch, but there are a few basic items that can be the base on which you build your alcoholic empire.
A home bar should be stocked with a few cocktail-making tools, some quality glasses, and a number of universal mixers. If you’re looking for fun liquor options, I suggest checking out my list of the best celebrity liquor brands here.
Choosing the right options for your home bar can make all the difference. The last thing you want to do is get up to make a cocktail and find that you’re missing a key ingredient. So, pour yourself a glass or two of your favorite adult beverage and scroll through below to check out all the non-negotiable home bar essentials you’ll need to improve your at-home sipping game.
There are a number of great cocktail shaker options available including a number of Boston-style shakers, however, sometimes choosing a simple option makes the most sense. The Etens Cocktail Shaker is a perfect shaker for nearly any situation. Made out of stainless steel, this is a no-frills, dishwasher-safe cocktail shaker that will comfortably fit in perfectly in any potential home bar. While it is tempting to choose some over-engineered shaker with 4 chambers and cocktail recipes carved on it like the Rosetta Stone, this is the only one you will ever truly need.
Another major bar essential you will need is a cocktail mixing spoon. Once again, there is really no need for any major pageantry for this. The Hiware Mixing Spoon is made with stainless steel, has the classic spiral pattern bar and is completely dishwasher safe. The cocktail spoon is perfect for mixing up ingredients already in the glass. The long spiral neck helps to easily get the spoon to the bottom of a highball glass and the perfectly balanced weight of the spoon is perfect for balancing it on your finger when you’re bored.
Briout Japanese-Style Jigger
While there isn’t much room to make a statement with a jigger, the Japanese-style version of the item is probably my personal favorite type. The longer, more slender design feels just the tiniest bit classier when I measure the exact amount of booze I put in my soda water. The Briout Japanese-Style Jigger is made of stainless steel and has internal marking lines for more exact pours of specific ingredients. Additionally, each side is marked with 1 ounce and 2 ounce labels which may not seem deeply important, but the more you use it, the more likely these labels will be important.
JoyJolt Carre Square Scotch Glasses
One of the best places to really show off your personal taste and style in a home bar is in your whiskey glasses. These glasses come in a number of different shapes and designs and is really your space to get creative. The glasses that I have at home are the JoyJolt Carre Square Scotch Glasses. These glasses are designed with a sharp, square design and an off-kilter bottom for a unique look. The whiskey glasses are built with sturdy glass and will stand up well to being accidentally dropped (trust me I know).
Godinger Highball Glasses
In addition to some wider, shorter glasses, its important to have highball glasses. These glasses are perfect for lighter drinks like wine and champage as well as mixed drinks including gin & tonics and of course, the classic highball cocktail. These glasses can also serve as regular drinking glasses as well for water, juice or really any kind of drinkable liquid. Godinger Highball Glasses check of all the boxes and are more than serviceable while still being durable enough to not shatter or crack very easily.
FAWLES Crystal Coupe Glasses
To complete your collection of glassware, having a set of coupe glasses is the perfect option. These serve as multifunction with champagne and many cocktails being commonly served in them. With a wide top and a thin stem, you can feel like you’re drinking bootleg champagne at a party in the roaring 20s (despite these 20s not quite roaring in the same way). FAWLES Crystal Coupe Glasses have been specially strengthened and are completely dishwasher safe for easy care.
Stirrings Pure Cane Simple Syrup
One of the most versatile mixers for any cocktail is without a doubt simple syrup. Simply syrup is in nearly all of the most basic cocktails that you may want to make and it can help take the edge out of the ones where you gave a little too generous of a pour. While there isn’t really a wrong answer when it comes to choosing which simple syrup to buy, Stirrings Pure Cane Simple Syrup has been the steady reliable option for me for years. The bottle comes with a few basic cocktail recipes on the label and Stirrings sells it for the right price.
Martini & Rossi Rosso Sweet Vermouth
Another classic standby for any cocktail is sweet vermouth. The fortified wine is built to blend seamlessly into several different cocktails and is an essential building block for any home bar. While there may be more expensive options, Martini & Rossi Rosso Sweet Vermouth is a classic option that leaves little to be desired. Negronis, Manhattans and Americanos all depend on a good vermouth and this one certainly gets the job done.
Much like simple syrup, tonic water plays a part in so many different cocktails and will certainly be used quite often at your home bar. Especially if you love a little gin, Q Mixers Tonic Water feels perfectly designed to create the most enjoyable gin & tonic you can mix. While there is nothing specifically notable about Q, I simply couldn’t point out a single thing wrong with it either.
Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters
For aromatic bitters, its ok to be a little bit more particular. There are a few notable brands of bitters, and their taste and fragrance can genuinely make a difference in the construction of your favorite cocktails depending on which one you choose. I’ve always been partial to Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters which have the sort of floral yet, well, bitter flavor palate that I’m looking for. I’m also rather fond of the old-timey label which makes you feel like an 1800s bartender at a saloon.
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