You don’t need to spend a lot of money or be an expert mixologist to create your perfect home bar. With just a few tools, the right spirits, and a little know-how, you can build a home bar that’s just right for you.
Every bar starts with a few basic tools. These are the instruments by which you will create your favorite cocktails.
Jigger – often shaped like an hourglass, this is the standard tool for measuring spirits. Jiggers offer measurements from 1/4 to 2 ounces.
Muddler – used to smash fruits and herbs to extract flavor. A key tool to creating cocktails like the Mojito.
Handheld Citrus Press – When it comes to juice, fresh is always best. A handheld citrus press is both easy to use and convenient for juicing small citrus.
Shaker with built in Strainer – Cocktail shakers come in various shapes in sizes. A basic three-piece shaker with a built-in strainer is all you need to mix things up like a pro.
STOCK THE BASICS
When entertaining friends, you don’t need to know every cocktail under the sun, just a few basic recipes will do. Start by learning a few classic recipes, like the martini, and build your bar from there.
Keep in mind that there are five base spirits that every bar should always have on hand:
- Whiskey (Rye or Bourbon)
THE SUPPORTING CAST
Once you’ve got the base spirits covered you can branch out and stock your bar with liqueurs and vermouths. If you’re just starting out, stick with liqueurs you’re familiar with. The temptation may be there to purchase as many as possible, but if you aren’t using these items frequently they may begin to spoil and go to waste.
Liqueurs – made using a base spirit, liqueurs are typically low in alcohol content and are flavored with fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, or creams. Although they can be enjoyed on their own, liqueurs are often essential to adding accent flavors to cocktails.
Vermouths – wine based, infused with herbs, and “fortified” with a high-proof alcohol. While there are a wide variety of vermouths, sweet and dry are the most common.
STORING YOUR ALCOHOL
While most of your base spirits can be safely stored at room temperature, thanks to their high alcohol content, other products may need to be refrigerated. Vermouths, with its wine base, will eventually begin to oxidize and develop “off” flavors. Liqueurs that are less than 15% alcohol by volume should also be stored in the refrigerator as they may eventually begin to spoil.
A good assortment of mixers will provide your guests with a multitude of options and help keep the party going.
- Fruits / Juices – orange, lemon, lime, cranberry
- Sodas – club soda, seltzer, tonic, ginger, cola
- Syrups – simple, grenadine
- Premade Mix (optional) – margarita, bloody mary, daiquiri
Now you’re ready to mix things up and develop those budding bartender skills.