Organizing a home bar, although not difficult, requires prior research so as not to spend too much money and not to buy unnecessary accessories and drinks. Here is a guide on how to organize a home bar without too much effort and expense.
You should start with the most basic tools. As your bar grows, you will understand what you need and buy more. For starters, you need:
an oversized shaker that allows you to mix more than one cocktail at a time;
a sharp knife with a serrated blade for slicing citrus fruits;
a jigger, a double-sided measuring utensil of the shot glass type, used for measuring alcohol;
several easy-to-clean glass bottles or jars for storing simple syrups and fresh juices;
a basic corkscrew;
a bottle opener for crown corks;
a set of towels.
Subsequently, you can buy a blender and citrus press, with which it will be easier to prepare citrus juices.
If you can not invest in good equipment, use homemade utensils: instead of a shaker – a jar with a tightly closing lid, instead of jigger – a shot glass, and replace the bar spoon to ordinary. Nevertheless, do not forget that the quality of cocktails and the aesthetics of the preparation directly depend on the equipment. If you do decide to splurge, order high-quality, durable, metal accessories at professional bartending sites.
The right glasses are an essential part of a good home bar. Yes, they take up space, yes, they often break, and yes, you have to splurge on quality and beautiful glass. For starters, you can limit yourself to low and wide rox glasses for classic cocktails like Americano and Manhattan. They can also be used to serve sauerkraut and long drinks. If you plan to make Aperol Spritz at home, get versatile wine glasses. Fragile cocktail glasses in a home bar are optional, unless you plan to surprise guests with Bond and Gatsby-style parties.
Ice will be needed to make most cocktails. It’s best to buy special ice packs or silicone molds. Always freeze large quantities at once, or you may run out of ice at the most inopportune moment. Do not use tap water, it may give the ice, and hence the drink, an unpleasant aroma and taste.
The so-called mixers are an essential part of a proper home bar. Guided by your taste, but in all likelihood you will sooner or later need: carbonated (soda) water, tonic, Coca-Cola, cranberry morsel, tomato and orange juices. Ideally, the citrus juices should be freshly squeezed so that your cocktails will taste much better. Another important ingredient is sugar syrup. You can make it at home by mixing 1 kg of sugar with 1 liter of hot water. Boil the mixture in a saucepan, cool it down and pour it into a jar or bottle. This syrup can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks. Over time, you may need other syrups, such as grenadine. This is best purchased at a health food store.
You should always have oranges, lemons and limes in your home bar, as they are indispensable for many recipes. Chunky or loose cane sugar is equally mandatory. If you like Mojitos, don’t forget the mint. And for Bloody Mary fans, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcester sauce are essential ingredients.
Many bartenders say the minimum assortment of a home bar is 12 basic drinks. But beginners can start with as few as six. Focus first and foremost on your taste. In our list, the ingredients are arranged in decreasing order of importance.
The base of many classic cocktails such as gin and tonic, Tom Collins, White lady and of course Martini Cocktail, gin is the favorite drink of many bartenders. For a home bar, it’s best to choose the classic London Dry Gin, not overloaded with trendy herbal additives.
Another classic strong alcohol, without which no bar can be imagined. It is used for Manhattan, Old Fashioned and other strong cocktails.
Without rum, you can’t make everyone’s favorite Mojitos and Daiquiris. You can just mix it with lime juice and cola for a refreshing Cuba Libre.
Vermouth is rarely the basis of a cocktail, but most bartenders are crazy about it. They add depth and complexity to a drink. A good red vermouth is the key to the success of many classic mixes.
Cointreau or Triple Sec are orange liqueurs that are part of many basic cocktails. Strong and citrus, they add a refreshing fruity taste to the drink.
Bitters, or bitters, are a return to the roots of cocktail culture. Today they are coming back into fashion. No decent bar can operate without at least one bitter. For a home bar, get the classic and versatile Angostura Aromatic Bitters.
For cocktails, it’s best to choose a not too smoky, classic blended whiskey. Beware, however, of the cheap options, they’re only good for whiskey cola.
Tequila cocktails are always refreshing and bright. Don’t skimp on this drink. Get tequila made from 100% agave to fully experience the grassy, fresh taste of this Mexican alcohol.
A good aged rum can add color to any cocktail. Even the classic Cuba Libre opens up differently. Try rums from Latin America and the Caribbean and find the one that appeals to you.
Cognac is a multifaceted alcoholic beverage with a strong grape flavor, making it ideal for cocktails as well as for drinking pure.
Campari (or another similar bitter)
Campari is part of many classic cocktails, such as Negroni and Garibaldi. It can be substituted for Aperol in a “Spritz” or simply served with sparkling water as an apéritif.
Vodka rounds out the list of must-have drinks for the home bar. It doesn’t have its own distinct flavor, so it’s good for mixing with fruit juices.