Would you like to learn the basics of making delicious cocktails at home? Whether you’re entertaining others or making a drink as you binge watch Netflix, you can outfit your bar cart with awesome vintage shakers, swizzle sticks, and decanters. With modern and personalized options too, it’s easier than ever before to set up a bar to your exact taste. Will you sip a classic Americano like
People have always collected the supplies to create libations at home. In the 19th century,
Here are the basic supplies you’ll need to make thousands of types of delicious cocktails at your new home bar.
A lot of cool vintage cocktail shakers have a built-in strainer, but you’ll find professional bartenders rarely use those types of models. The internal strainer requires too much time and effort to properly clean before cocktails. So if you are planning drinks for one, they are a cool piece of vintage flair. However, for a sleeker and faster experience, use a Boston shaker. The two parts—one shorter than the other—fit together to seal in your ingredients. With the
Even the best bartenders still use strainers. The
Muddler and Bar Spoon
A muddler is a pestle for mashing or lightly grinding fresh ingredients to release juices. For example, muddlers are used to release the minty freshness from mint leaves in a mojito and to muddle the fresh fruit used to make an Old Fashioned. To stir these libations, you’ll need a special long mixing bar spoon—these usually have swirly stems. Shaking a cocktail is the easiest method to chill the liquor, but it can dilute the drink with bits of ice or even “bruise” the flavors of liquors like gin. A classic martini is stirred, as are many drinks that are only distilled spirits. Place the curved back of the spoon against the shaker or pint glass and sweep it around the outside of the glass as so. Here are more instructions on
Cocktail recipes list ingredients in ounces or millimeters (in old recipes you will see simple proportions or “parts”). To make sure you are concocting your cocktail property, pour each ingredient into a jigger. These small measuring cups come in varying sizes, but will usually include a 1.5-ounce measure. This is the standard measure of one shot in the US.
Paring Knife, Peeler, and Juicer
Garnishes are the little fruits or vegetables that make your drink look pretty and complement the flavor. To carve up orange slices, lemon wedges, and other garnishes, you will need a sharp paring knife. A
A good wine key or corkscrew is necessary for all vino lovers. You want a strong build, sharp blade to cut foil, and easy leverage for removing the cork. There are lots of good options available online, but if you happen to be near a Trader Joe’s, its wine keys are quite good in a pinch.
Once removed, it never hurts to inspect the cork once you’ve removed it from the bottle. The cork can tell you something about the
Swizzle Sticks and Skewers
Top off your fun cocktails at your home bar with vintage swizzle sticks. You’ll find countless options on
The swizzle stick’s drink companion—
Choosing glassware is one of the most exciting parts of building your bar. Are you looking for sleek modern pieces, or do you prefer eclectic and colorful vintage? To start, you will want
The third essential glass is the
Keep building your glassware collection and you will find there’s infinite variety. Navigate the confusing world of wine glass shapes, for instance, with this
Decanters really tie your bar aesthetic together. Different shapes correspond to different liquors, but the two basic types you will find are for liquor or wine.
By contrast, decanters have long been used to store shelf-stable liquors such as whiskey. These are always capped bottles, often quite dramatic as if they are set dressing on Downton Abbey. Experts generally agree that
Vintage Cocktail Recipe Book
Although the internet is full of amazing cocktail recipes, having a book or two can be a fun way to explore the cocktails of yore. A vintage favorite is Mr. Boston: Official Bartender and Party Guide. You can usually find copies at used book stores or online, as it has been in print since 1935. Alongside vintage illustrations, you will find forgotten recipes to wow your guests. Another excellent vintage collection is
Now for the Edible Bar Accouterment
You will need drinks to serve with all your new bar tools. Depending on your taste, a basic bar can start with the basics: vodka, gin, tequila, bourbon or whiskey, and rum. A bottle of sweet vermouth and one of dry will also help you create certain classic cocktails—such as martinis and Manhattans. Other spirits and liquors such as triple sec or Cointreau (for margaritas), Kahlua (for coffee drinks), or brandy (for Sidecars) are useful. Simple syrup is often required and is easy to
Many drinks are made with mixers. Sour mix, soda, tonic, or ginger beer can all stock your fridge for use at your new bar. There are virtually endless cocktail combinations; you will enjoy exploring as you learn. Top each creation off with a garnish, if required. That olive, onion, or maraschino cherry is the “cherry” on top of creating the perfect home bar.