Building your very first home bar is a special time — filled with embarrassing choices, lavish purchases and daunting amounts of education on the matter that almost make the point of having a home bar no fun at all. But before you swear off cocktails at home and take an ax to that new bar you were planning on entertaining guests with, take a deep breath and let’s go through a quick and easy guide on successfully establishing your new home bar to come out shining.
What you need and what you don’t:
One day you’ll have a beautifully stocked bar that will be your pride and joy, brimming with fancy bottles of booze. But for now, sticking with the very basics is the way to go. What are these “basics”? A dry gin, a tasty bourbon whiskey, a delicious white rum, and — because this is your first bar, after all — the ever-utilitarian bottle of vodka.
The idea is to have a few quality bottles with which you can make many great cocktails.
Fresh citrus is crucial in any home bar. It’ll instantly and easily increase the variety of cocktails you can make. When life gives you lemons … make a Tom Collins, and when it gives you limes, shake up a tasty Daiquiri. (I think that’s how the saying goes.) Last, but not least, are sugar and ice, which most people have in abundance. Make sure you always have some on hand.
On the matter of glassware, shakers and all those random metal objects you see at the bar, don’t worry about them for now. I’ve never sent a good drink back because it wasn’t served in a Victorian-era champagne coupe. So as long as you have something to serve it in that you like, use that for now. Believe me, glassware becomes an obsession, so enjoy the cabinet space while you still have it.
As for the tools needed to do the actual cocktail shaking, get a 3-piece cobbler shaker (I recommend this type because it has a strainer built in and is incredibly easy to use) and a jigger. Because you’ll want to make consistently good cocktails, measuring the spirits, citrus and sugar syrup is the way to go. Plus, it is a fantastic way to keep track of how much liquor you use in every drink to be more cost-effective.
This should get you started on shaking up quick, tasty cocktails at home. Remember to keep it simple, stick with the basics and have fun!
photo credit: Raul Zelaya