I’m gearing up to enter my TENTH week of quarantine since the Corona Virus pandemic has swept across the globe. Needless to say, I’ve been trying to pass the time with baking, cooking and well, drinking. I wasn’t always a cocktail drinker but last year I started venturing out more; trying out new restaurants and craft cocktail bars and my pallet expanded. I really enjoy making cocktails at home and since bars aren’t open now, it’s really the only way to enjoy a drink. I’ve compiled an easy guide to help you set up your home bar to ensure you have the essentials.
Glassware: For the most part, picking glassware is purely for aesthetics. You can enjoy a beverage in any container. But don’t we like to drink pretty? One thing to keep in mind is most recipes you will find are based on standard glassware sizes. Some I would recommend would be a highball glass, a rocks glass, a champagne flute, a coupe, and a pint glass. Martini glasses are fun and all, but they spill easily and are kind of a pain to drink out of, and quite frankly, are antiquated. Crate and Barrel is a great site for inexpensive glassware. Anthropologie, Target, and Urban Outfitters are great for unique pieces. I also love to browse antique store for one of a kind glassware.
Barware: In order to make drinks properly you need the proper tools. Just like with any other craft, there are certain bar tools that cannot be substituted. This is the set I have but is currently out of stock. I really love the matte black color and hopefully it will be restocked soon! Here are some similar sets: Black Cocktail Shaker Set // 4 Piece Black Cocktail Set // Essential Cocktail Kingdom Set. If you’re wanting to mix and match pieces make sure you get the following Boston Shaker, Cobbler Shaker, Jigger, Muddler, Hawthorne Strainer, Fine Mesh Strainer and Bar Spoon. Not all cocktails are shaken so having a heavy duty mixing glass is key to making liquor only drinks (and it also looks pretty). Here are a few options: One // Two // Three // Four. Cocktail Kingdom is a great source for bar tools, many restaurants and bartenders use this site. It can be a little pricey but like most things, you get what you pay for. Now to the fun stuff … the booze.
Spirits: When it comes to plastic surgery and liquor, you get what you pay for. Just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s gonna taste better per se, but the higher the price, the better the quality of the product so the hangovers won’t be as intense with higher-end alcohol. You can’t avoid being hungover if you drink a lot, but the cheaper the product, the worse you’re gonna feel. Base spirits are the foundation of any cocktail. However, this is an area that is really up to you. Trial and error will help you find what you like. Everyone has a different palate, so you might not always like what someone else suggests. Examples of base spirits would be; Vodka, Gin, Rye Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, Tequila, and Rum. My favorite brands are Tito’s or Cathead Vodka, El Jimador or Casamigos Tequila, Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Prairie Organic, and The Botanist Gin and Plantation 3 Star Rum. When in doubt, follow this golden rule: stock things that you like to drink.
Mixers & Garnishes: Tonic, Soda Water, Simple Syrup*. Soda: Coke, Diet Coke, and Gingerale (I buy the small cans of these so they don’t go to waste). Fruit juices: Pineapple and Cranberry. Citrus: lemon, lime, orange, and pineapple. When using citrus juice always opt for fresh-squeezed. *Simple syrup is something that can be bought but it is so easy to make at home. The most common simple syrup recipe is using the 1:1 ratio of any measurement. For example, 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of hot water. Place a pot on the stove and heat the water up, doesn’t even need to be brought to a boil, add the sugar, mix until sugar is diluted, transfer to a container and store in your fridge to extend the shelf life. Must have bitters on a home bar: Peychauds, Angostura, and orange bitters. They are the most commonly used bitters in cocktails. Bitters don’t make a drink bitter per se, but they do help round out the flavor of a cocktail. They’re also inexpensive and will last for a while since post drinks only call for a few dashes.
Bar Cart (mine is sold out but similar here, here, here, here and here) // Rosè Bottle Painting (framed at Michael’s) // Death & Co. Recipe Book // Meehans Bartenders Guide // The Drunken Botanist // Clean Cocktails