So you finally pulled the trigger and decided to build yourself a home bar? Congratulations! A home bar is a true game changer. It’s a place where you can relax, watch the game, hang out with friends, and never have to worry about getting a ride home, drunk idiots running their mouths, or slow bartenders that would rather serve hot girls than the thirsty masses.
Now that you’ve got your home bar (or will have it soon), it’s important to pay attention to the details that transform a basic space into the kind of top-notch drinking establishment you truly deserve. To help you out, we’re here to tell you all about the Home Bar Essentials that you absolutely, positively must have to consider yourself fully equipped.
Obviously, there are tons of bar tools and ingredients out there, so please note that we don’t intend this to be an exhaustive list of everything you CAN get. Instead, consider it a helpful guide to the things that you MUST get to feel like you’re ready to show any guest a good time.
For the sake of convenience, we’re going to break this list into three distinct parts that will be published as three separate blog posts: Bar Tools, Ingredients, and Skills/Techniques. Each blog post will focus on giving you the top essentials for each category. Pay attention to all these recommendations, and you’ll be well on your way to having a home bar that’s a home run.
The tools you keep behind the bar are pretty much as important as the tools you keep in that dusty old toolbox in your shed. Without them, you’ll be limited to popping cans of beer and looking pretty lame. Why bother building a home bar if you’re just going to sling canned suds? The following list of bar tools are the staples that every self-respecting home bar owner should have on hand. They’re a collection of straight-forward, super-utilitarian tools that allow you to expertly mix up a whole range of classic cocktails for the imbibing pleasure of you and your guests.
A dependable cocktail shaker is basically your best friend behind the bar. Add all your ingredients, shake things up, and boom! It’s magic. Shakers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, but they all pretty much get the job done the same way. The two main things to keep in mind:
A. The bigger the shaker, the more efficiently you can prepare multiple cocktails at once.
B. A shaking tin (which you pair with a mixing glass) is a classic choice, but many people opt for the convenience of a 3-piece shaker that typically includes a strainer cap.
Not every cocktail requires muddling, but if you’re really trying to elevate your game and be prepared for anything, it’s imperative that you have one at the ready. A good muddler helps you make the most of your ingredients by releasing their essential oils and essences. Plus, using a muddler makes you feel like an old-timey pharmacist…so that’s cool too.
3. Bar Spoons
From scooping garnishes out of the jar without getting your germs on everything to stirring cocktails that are too delicately balanced to stand up to a vigorous shaking, a good bar spoon is something you’ll turn to time and time again.
When you’re mixing up a quick and dirty rum and Coke, you can get away with eyeballing out the measurements, and trust us, we’re all good with that. But if you put in the effort to build your own home bar, you have to be willing to step things up from time to time and craft something with a bit more attention to detail. A handy jigger or measuring glass ensures that your tastes and potencies are balanced just the way they’re supposed to be, and that’s how a great cocktail is built.
Whether you mount it on your wall or opt for something handheld, you simply have to have a bottle opener. Unless of course you only drink beer from cans or twist-off tops, but if that’s your style, why bother building a home bar? Oh, also, a wine bottle opener! Don’t forget that for the fans of the fruit of the vine.
If you opt for a 3-piece shaker, a strainer isn’t quite as important, but it’s still handy to have around. In fact, if you’re going to follow tradition, you’ll want a Julep strainer to use with a mixing glass and a Hawthorne strainer to use with a shaking tin. But to be honest, you don’t NEED both, so if you prefer to pick one, have at it.
And that my friends is the list of bar tool home bar essentials. Could we have made it longer? Sure! I mean, there’s nothing here about the versatility of a good bar towel or the importance of ice cubes or how handy it is to have a trusty garnish knife. But, as promised, we wanted to really limit ourselves to the items that you’ll quickly realize are basically indispensable.
Stay tuned for the upcoming posts in our Home Bar Essentials series (Part 2: Five Mandatory Cocktail Ingredients for Mixology Magic), and as always, feel free to hit us up in the comments or on Facebook if you have any questions, concerns, or other reasons to say hello!